The state Senate had long been a final outpost of Republican power in New York, only holding on recently thanks to Democrats crossing the aisle to keep them in control.
This election, Democrats only had to pick up one seat to take the chamber – and they accomplished that feat handily on Tuesday, winning control of the state Senate for the first time since 2010.
"It means that New York is finally going to get the Democratic leadership in the Senate that they continue to vote for," said state Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who's set to become the majority leader in January. "So we're going to continue to be … a reflection of what New York wants.”
Democrats appeared to flip at least five seats, with candidates Monica Martinez, James Gaughran, Anna Kaplan, James Skoufis and Jen Metzger all winning their contests. Since no Democratic incumbents lost, that would expand the conference to 36 members, excluding state Sen. Simcha Felder, a Brooklyn Democrat who caucuses with the GOP.
Additionally, Republican state Sens. Kemp Hannon, Marty Golden and Terrence Murphy were trailing by a couple percentage points, which could mean three more Democratic pickups - and a conference swelling to 39 members in the 63-seat chamber. Another Democrat, Karen Smythe, was trailing GOP state Sen. Sue Serino and refused to concede.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo had flexed his muscles on behalf of his fellow Democrats this cycle, recruiting state Senate candidates and launching a $2 million ad buy. The activist groups that propelled IDC challengers like Alessandra Biaggi and Jessica Ramos to primary victories also joined forces with the governor, with at least one progressive group backing a slate of candidates challenging Republican incumbents.
Flipping the chamber puts Democrats in control of the entire state government for the first time since 2010. The state Senate had been the GOP’s only hold on state power in recent years, but they began the election cycle in a tough position, with five Republican seats that had been considered safe coming open thanks to a slew of retirements. A "blue wave" on Tuesday then put the Democrats over the finish line.
Here are detailed results of the most competitive state Senate races that determined control of the chamber, with the winners marked in bold.
▉ Dean Murray: 47.48%
▉ Monica Martinez: 50.22%
With 206 out of 206 election districts reporting.
Suffolk County Legislator Monica Martinez picked up a Republican state Senate seat, winning by more than 2,000 votes in the Long Island district that was vacated by GOP state Sen. Tom Croci. Republican Assemblyman Dean Murray had some advantages in the race, including that the district went for Donald Trump in 2016, but he fell short against Martinez, who was one of several candidates recruited by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to run.
▉ Phil Boyle: 50.39%
▉ Louis D’Amaro: 46.70%
With 225 out of 225 election districts reporting.
Republican state Sen. Phil Boyle held on for a narrow victory against former Suffolk County Legislator Louis D’Amaro, whom the governor also recruited this year. While Boyle's district went strongly for Trump in 2016, D'Amaro was also likely hurt by a late-breaking scandal involving a disputed allegation that he had once threatened an ex-girlfriend "with bodily harm."
▉ Carl Marcellino: 44.73%
▉ James Gaughran: 53.23%
With 295 out of 295 election districts reporting.
State Sen. Carl Marcellino was one of the most vulnerable Republicans this cycle despite his seniority, and the Long Island lawmaker lost badly in his rematch against James Gaughran, the Democratic Suffolk County Water Authority chairman who nearly beat Marcellino two years ago. Marcellino was likely hurt by the failure of his conference to advance a bill on teacher evaluations this past session, which spurred the state teachers union to strongly back Gaughran.
▉ Kemp Hannon: 47.99%
▉ Kevin Thomas: 49.24%
With 267 out of 267 election districts reporting.
State Sen. Kemp Hannon appeared to be on the verge of losing his Long Island seat as well, as Democratic attorney Kevin Thomas capitalized on support from progressives to come out ahead. With all of the votes reported, Thomas was leading Hannon by only 1,308 votes out of the 104,859 cast. Nonetheless, Thomas felt comfortable enough to declare victory, according to at least one report.
▉ Elaine Phillips: 44.53%
▉ Anna Kaplan: 53.68%
With 292 out of 292 election districts reporting.
State Sen. Elaine Phillips, a freshman Republican, lost by nearly double digits to Anna Kaplan, a North Hempstead councilwoman who had the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and was one of the first two New York candidates to be endorsed by former President Barack Obama. Phillips had the advantage of incumbency, but the enthusiasm of Democrats knocked her out in a Long Island district where Democrats outnumber Republicans.
▉ John Brooks: 53.01%
▉ Jeff Pravato: 44.15%
With 256 out of 256 election districts reporting.
A scandal involving the then-incumbent's father helped John Brooks squeeze out a victory two years ago and take office as a state senator, but this year he was considered the most vulnerable Democrat in the chamber. Yet he had little trouble beating Republican challenger Jeff Pravato, the mayor of Massapequa Park. Both parties spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of their candidates in this contest.
▉ Todd Kaminsky: 60.35%
▉ Francis Becker, Jr.: 37.51%
With 283 out of 283 election districts reporting.
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky easily won reelection, just two and a half years after he picked up the Long Island seat for Democrats in a tough special election battle. Kaminsky held off former Nassau County Legislator Francis Becker Jr., who belongs to a well-known political family in the town of Lynbrook but had little financial support from Senate Republicans.
▉ Martin Golden: 47.99%
▉ Andrew Gounardes: 49.79%
With 202 out of 202 election districts reporting.
Democratic nominee Andrew Gounardes lost to state Sen. Marty Golden by a wide margin in 2012, but this year turned out differently. Gounardes declared victory while narrowly leading Golden, one of only two Republican state senators who represent New York City. Assuming the final tally holds, this year will mark the end for the longtime incumbent, who was well-connected in the community - although some controversial behavior certainly didn't help. Yet Golden did not concede, with his campaign saying it would wait until absentee ballots are counted.
▉ Tom Basile: 44.91%
▉ James Skoufis: 52.11%
With 249 out of 249 election districts reporting.
When Republican state Sen. William Larkin retired after nearly three decades in the chamber, Tom Basile, a fellow Republican and a Stony Point councilman, was already been campaigning and fundraising. But the early start wasn't enough to stop Democratic Assemblyman James Skoufis, who enjoyed a degree of name recognition and Cuomo’s support.
▉ Terrence Murphy: 48.01%
▉ Peter Harckham: 49.86%
With 276 out of 277 election districts reporting.
Democrat Peter Harckham declared victory in this race, despite having a lead of fewer than 2 percentage points. If the numbers hold it would be one of the more surprising pickups for the party. Harckham had the support of Cuomo, his former boss, who also fundraised for Harckham. State Sen. Terrence Murphy’s seat was long held by a Republican despite a large Democratic voter enrollment advantage - and the Democrats appear to have broken through this year.
▉ Sue Serino: 49.91%
▉ Karen Smythe: 48.02%
With 238 out of 238 election districts reporting.
State Sen. Sue Serino’s district has been targeted by Democrats in the past, and she appears to have just enough votes to keep it Republican. The incumbent was ahead of Democrat Karen Smythe, who has the support of the Working Families Party and Cuomo, by fewer than 2 percentage points with all the votes in. While Serino declared victory, Smythe said it was too soon to call it.
▉ Ann Rabbitt: 47.45%
▉ Jen Metzger: 50.08%
With 263 out of 263 election districts reporting.
With the retirement of GOP state Sen. John Bonacic, Democrat Jen Metzger were able to flip what had long been a Republican seat. Metzger, a Rosendale councilwoman and former Rosendale deputy mayor, beat Republican Ann Rabbit, who serves as Orange County clerk and is a former assemblywoman. The district overlaps with the 19th Congressional District, and Democrat Antonio Delgado's strong candidacy may have helped put Metzger over the top.
▉ Daphne Jordan: 52.14 %
▉ Aaron Gladd: 44.23%
With 248 out of 248 election districts reporting.
The seat being vacated by state Sen. Kathleen Marchione has been in Republican hands for decades - and it'll be staying that way. Republican Daphne Jordan capitalized on the GOP voter enrollment advantage and an endorsement from Marchione. Cuomo endorsed Gladd, a former staffer, early in the race, but that support wasn't enough.
▉ Robert Antonacci: 50.42%
▉ John Mannion: 47.99%
With 258 out of 258 election districts reporting.
The retirement of state Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Republican, made this seat competitive, but Onondaga County Comptroller Robert Antonacci kept it in the Republican column. Although Hillary Clinton carried the district in 2016, the district is one of the few in the state with a Republican voter enrollment advantage. Democrats spent heavily in support of John Mannion, a high school biology teacher, but he fell short.
Other Democrats who won
Joseph Addabbo Jr., Robert Jackson, John Liu, Jamaal Bailey, Brian Benjamin, Neil Breslin, David Carlucci, Leroy Comrie, Julia Salazar, Michael Gianaris, Zellnor Myrie, Brad Hoylman, Brian Kavanagh, Timothy Kennedy, Alessandra Biaggi, Liz Krueger, Shelley Mayer, Velmanette Montgomery, Kevin Parker, Jessica Ramos, Roxanne Persaud, Gustavo Rivera, James Sanders Jr., Diane Savino, Luis Sepulveda, Jose M. Serrano, Toby Ann Stavisky, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Rachel May
Other Republicans who won
Kenneth LaValle, John Flanagan, Andrew Lanza, Chris Jacobs, Betty Little, George Amedore Jr., Joseph Griffo, Patty Ritchie, James Tedisco, James Seward, Fred Akshar, Pamela Helming, Rich Funke, Joseph Robach, Cathy Young, Thomas O’Mara, Patrick Gallivan, Michael Ranzenhofer, Robert Ortt
The Democrat who caucuses with Republicans who won
With reporting by Jordan Laird.