New York State

Previewing the 2022 state Senate elections in New York

After a chaotic redistricting process, here are the races to watch.

Redistricting will change the 63-member chamber.

Redistricting will change the 63-member chamber. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The 2020 elections left Democrats with a historic supermajority in the state Senate and a strong progressive contingent. Forty-four new members joined the state Legislature, and they made the chamber the most diverse in state history. The GOP-dominated chamber of just six years ago now feels even more distant. The continued momentum for state Senate Democrats is visible in their fundraising: The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has over $3 million on hand, while Republicans have a little under $1 million as of October.

This summer, multiple Democratic incumbents survived fierce primary challenges from the right and the left. Democratic state Sen. Kevin Parker bested Democratic Socialists of America-backed David Alexis in Brooklyn, and progressive state Sen. Gustavo Rivera defended his seat against Bronx machine-backed attorney Miguelina Camilo. He wasn’t the only state Senate progressive to defeat centrist challenges, some of whom were endorsed by New York City Mayor Eric Adams. Adams already had a less-than-friendly relationship with progressive state lawmakers because of different perspectives on issues such as bail reform.

In this election, Republicans are losing their favorable maps drawn in 2010. During the chaotic redistricting process, the state Court of Appeals invalidated the state Senate and congressional maps proposed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature because they were gerrymandered to benefit Democrats. Lawmakers are now running in newly drawn districts made by the court-appointed special master. The outcome was better for Republicans than the Democrats’ maps, but they’re still losing a gerrymandered advantage in many cases from the 2010 redistricting process, turning many of their safe seats competitive.

State Sen. Pamela Helming, chair of the state Senate Republican Campaign Committee, told City & State her party is seeking to even the playing field. “If there's anything that I hear from people all across the state, regardless of which political party they belong to, it's really to restore some balance to the state,” Helming said.

National issues of the economy, crime and abortion have played a key role in the campaign efforts of candidates from each party. Republicans have focused on inflation, and a recent Siena College poll showed economic issues were the top concern of 30% of voters polled. When it comes to local issues, several Republican candidates have focused their campaigns on public safety and repealing bail reform. Crime has remained a top concern of many voters on Long Island, where there are several competitive state Senate races, in recent elections.

Democrats have focused on abortion rights following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade. Democratic state Senate Campaign Committee Chair Michael Gianaris said voters are realizing state government is more important than ever before. “The craziness coming out of Washington – with the Supreme Court – has lit a fire under Democrats to turn out and vote. We're hoping that it is able to offset some of the historical turnout problems that would occur in a midterm,” Gianaris told City & State.

There are multiple competitive state Senate races to keep an eye out for. The elections this year include incumbent versus incumbent match-ups, several open seats and efforts by former elected officials to make a political comeback.

A lot of our information is coming from the extremely useful Redistricting & You maps, a collaboration between The Graduate Center at CUNY and the Center for Urban Research. Here is our rundown of the state Senate races to watch in 2022.

Editor’s note: This post was last updated on Oct. 17 with campaign committee fundraising numbers. We also adjusted Districts 7 and 9 from likely Democrat to lean Democrat and pulled District 43 from safe Republican to lean Republican and District 44 from lean Democrat to lean Republican.

Safe Democratic seats:

Kevin Thomas (6), James Sanders Jr. (10), Toby Ann Stavisky (11), Michael Gianaris (12), Jessica Ramos (13), Leroy Comrie (14), Joseph Addabbo (15), John Liu (16), Iwen Chu* (17), Julia Salazar (18), Roxanne Persaud (19), Zellnor Myrie (20), Kevin Parker (21), Simcha Felder (22), Jessica Scarcella-Spanton* (23), Jabari Brisport (25), Andrew Gounardes (26), Brian Kavanagh (27), Liz Krueger (28), José M. Serrano (29), Cordell Cleare (30), Robert Jackson (31), Luis Sepúlveda (32), Gustavo Rivera (33), Nathalia Fernandez* (34), Andrea Stewart-Cousins (35), Jamaal Bailey (36), Shelley Mayer (37), Pete Harckham (40), Neil Breslin (46), Brad Hoylman (47), Rachel May (48), John Mannion (50), Samra Brouk (55), Jeremy Cooney (56), Kristen Gonzalez (59), Sean Ryan (61), Timothy Kennedy (63)

Safe Republican seats:

Dean Murray* (3), Alexis Weik (8), Andrew Lanza (24), Daniel Stec (45), Mark Walczyk (49), Peter Oberacker (51), Joseph Griffo (53), Pamela Helming (54), George Borrello (57), Thomas O’Mara (58), Patrick Gallivan (60), Robert Ortt (62)

* not an incumbent


Anthony Palumbo (R, incumbent) vs. Skyler Johnson (D) 

2020 election: Anthony Palumbo (R) 51.37%, Laura Ahearn (D) 48.63%

2020 presidential election (new district lines): Biden +5 

2020 presidential election (old district lines): Biden +1

Voter registration: 76,850 active Democrats, 68,507 active Republicans

The Long Island state Senate district that served as a Republican stronghold for over 40 years now has Republicans outnumbered by 8,000 Democratic voters thanks to redistricting. First-term state Sen. Anthony Palumbo will face a Democratic challenge from nonprofit employee and former Southampton mayoral aide Skyler Johnson. Palumbo was supposed to have a smooth road to reelection, but those plans were upended because of redistricting. Johnson previously ran in the Democratic primary for the seat in 2020, the then-19-year-old using TikTok to get his campaign message out, but ultimately lost to Laura Ahearn, who went on to lose to Palumbo by about 3.5 points. Now that he has secured the Democratic nomination this time around after avoiding a primary, Johnson likely won’t go down without a fight. With $25,000 in cash on hand as of October, he’ll have to fight tooth and nail to compete against Palumbo’s incumbency and close to $40,000 in campaign funds. As a member of the Investigations and Government Operations Committee, Palumbo has called for a legislative investigation into Gov. Kathy Hochul’s contracting practices following the Times Union’s reporting on the state's $637 million contract to buy COVID-19 home tests from a major Hochul donor. Palumbo has been vocal about his opposition to bail reform, and his GOP state Senate colleagues sounded the alarm when two bills aimed at sealing certain criminal records advanced in the state Senate. Johnson has prioritized reproductive rights, climate change infrastructure, education and health care throughout his campaign. He has secured endorsements from several influential New York politicians, including U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and state Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris.

Our take: Lean Republican


Mario Mattera (R, incumbent) vs. Susan Berland (D)

2020 election: Mario Mattera (R) 56.82%, Michael Siderakis (D) 43.18%

2020 presidential election (new district lines): Trump +1 

2020 presidential election (old district lines): Trump +6

Voter registration: 77,446 active Democrats, 79,158 active Republicans

When former state Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan decided not to run for reelection in 2020, the GOP selected Mario Mattera to run on the Republican Party line. Mattera won a decisive victory in 2020 over Democratic opponent Michael Siderakis in the open race for the district. Now Mattera will face former Suffolk County Legislature Majority Leader Susan Berland, who has spent 20 years in local elected office. District 2 has been pretty dramatically redrawn, and in the process has become a lot more purple. While incumbency and the voting patterns of the district may be on his side, Mattera has his work cut out for him. Berland has staked her campaign on reproductive rights, the economy and public safety. Mattera has positioned himself as a longtime leader in the Plumbers Local Union No. 200 and as someone who prioritizes benefit funds for workers. He also has a major fundraising advantage. As of early October, Mattera had about $256,000 on hand while Berland had about $51,000.

Our take: Likely Republican


Monica Martinez (D) vs. Wendy Rodriguez (R)

2020 election: Phil Boyle (R) 55.40%, Christine Pellegrino (D) 44.60%

2020 presidential election (new district lines): Biden +23.2 

2020 presidential election (old district lines): Trump +3

Voter registration: 84,734 active Democrats, 36,944 active Republicans

Republican state Sen. Phil Boyle isn’t seeking reelection, leaving his seat up for grabs. The demographics of District 4 have shifted dramatically with redistricting, transforming it from a district that slightly favored Trump in 2020 to one that is decidedly Democratic. Hispanic voters now make up about 40% of the district – double the percentage of Hispanic voters in the previous district. After losing her reelection for District 3 in 2020 to GOP challenger Alexis Weik, Democrat and former state Sen. Monica Martinez is attempting to make her comeback against Republican businessperson Wendy Rodriguez. During her single term in the state Senate, Martinez prioritized women’s health issues, animal rights, health care and climate action. She bested Assembly Member Phil Ramos in the August primary election – securing 65% of the vote. Many political experts who spoke to City & State agree that Martinez is the odds-on favorite in this election. With over $80,000 on hand in campaign funds as of early October, Martinez also has an edge over Rodriguez's war chest of $29,000. The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has spent $32,000 to support Martinez, while the Senate Republican Campaign Committee has spent nothing on Rodriguez.

Our take: Likely Democrat 


John Brooks (D, Incumbent) vs. Steven Rhoads (R)

2020 election: James Gaughran (D) 50.41%, Edmund Smyth (R) 48.49%, Barbara Wagner (G) 1.09%

2020 presidential election (new district lines): Trump +3

2020 presidential election (old district lines): District changed significantly

Voter registration: 82,547 active Democrats, 85,241 active Republicans

After the redistricting process made the 8th District favorable for Republicans, state Sen. John Brooks announced his retirement. Then just a few weeks later, Brooks announced he would in fact run for reelection – but in the drastically newly drawn 5th District. This district undoubtedly gave Brooks a better shot at winning reelection compared to the new District 8, but the incumbent will still face a fierce challenge. The redrawn district now has a slight majority of voters who supported Trump in 2020 compared to the old district, which favored Biden. To win the district, Brooks will need to beat Republican challenger and Nassau County Legislator Steven Rhoads – who has focused much of his campaign on cutting taxes and repealing bail reform. Meanwhile, Brooks has centered his campaign on the issue of gun violence. While Brooks faces a fight in this district, his robust campaign war chest should help him. Heading into the final weeks of the election, Brooks has $286,000 cash on hand while Rhoads has just under $30,000. However, Republicans seem more invested in the race, with the Senate Republican Campaign Committee having spent nearly $75,000 on Rhoads, while the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has spent only $29,500 on Brooks, far less than many other potentially vulnerable incumbents.

Our take: Toss-up


Anna Kaplan (D, incumbent) vs. Jack Martins (R)

2020 election: Anna Kaplan (D) 57.44%, David Franklin (R) 42.56%

2020 presidential election (new district lines): Biden +12

2020 presidential election (old district lines): Biden +15

Voter registration: 86,571 active Democrats, 65,105 active Republicans

Voters in the 7th state Senate District will be choosing between their incumbent senator and a former senator. After successfully beating former Port Washington Police Commissioner David Franklin in 2020, state Sen. Anna Kaplan focused her time in the state Senate on legislation aimed at gun violence prevention, Holocaust education and abortion rights. Kaplan must now face an even tougher Republican challenger: Jack Martins, who represented the district from 2011 through 2016 and also served as Mineola mayor. Kaplan has the advantages of incumbency and voter enrollment, as well as fundraising, but political experts said this may be the race to keep an eye out for. Martins has a formidable amount of name recognition. Recently, he has touted the endorsement of the Police Conference of New York and has vowed to repeal bail reform, a key issue that led to a red wave on Long Island in 2021. Both candidates have a healthy amount of campaign funds on hand before the election, $264,000 for Kaplan and $173,000 for Martins. The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee is spending big to help keep Kaplan in her seat, investing over $160,000 on her campaign, while the Senate Republican Campaign Committee is using a significant chunk of its more limited cash by infusing about $70,000 into the race for Martins

Our take: Lean Democrat


Kenneth Moore (D) vs. Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick (R)

2020 election: Todd Kaminsky (D) 57.69%, Victoria Johnson (R) 42.31%

2020 presidential election (new district lines): Biden +11

2020 presidential election (old district lines): Biden +10

Voter registration: 96,890 active Democrats, 65,156 active Republicans

This is an open race for the seat held by Democratic former state Sen. Todd Kaminsky, who represented the district for eight years and resigned to work at a lobbying firm. Kaminsky flipped the seat blue in 2016 after Republican former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos was convicted on federal corruption charges. Democratic candidate Kenneth Moore, mayor of Bellerose Village on Long Island and a volunteer firefighter, has focused much of his campaign on taxes, public safety and climate action. The Republican candidate Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick has been critical of Kaminsky’s support of bail reform and has made crime the cornerstone of her campaign. Heading into the election, Moore has $76,000 on hand, and Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick has just over $38,000. In terms of voter registration, Democrats have kept a hold on this district before and after redistricting. The district voted for Biden during the 2020 election and the new district has Democrats with a great voter advantage over Republicans. Democrats have not spent any money to support Moore in the race, while Republicans have spent just over $96,000, the most of any candidate, in order to help Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick flip the seat.

Our take: Lean Democrat


Elijah Reichlin-Melnick (D, incumbent) vs. William Weber (R)

2020 election: Elijah Reichlin-Melnick (D) 53.66%, William Weber (R) 46.20%

2020 presidential election (new district lines): Biden +3 

2020 presidential election (old district lines): Biden +6

Voter registration: 88,641 active Democrats, 43,292 active Republicans

Coming out of a narrow victory in 2020, first-term state Sen. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick will face a rematch against William Weber in the Lower Hudson Valley district. The Republican challenger held a narrow lead on Election Day in 2020, but the counting of absentee ballots ultimately led to a victory for Reichlin-Melnick. Since then, the senator has prioritized education funding, gun violence and health care while in the state Senate. Weber, who has focused much of his campaign on public safety and repealing bail reform, may have a better chance of winning the district this time around because of redistricting. In the new district lines, the share of voters who supported Biden in 2020 shrank. Nonetheless, Weber will need to compete against Reichlin-Melnick's incumbency and pockets. Heading into the election, Reichlin-Melnick has about double the amount of cash on hand that Weber has – $191,000 for Reichlin-Melnick and $89,000 for Weber. The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has infused over $100,000 into the race to help Reichlin-Melnick hold on to his seat, while the Senate Republican Campaign Committee hasn’t spent anything on Weber.

Our take: Toss-up


Julie Shiroishi (D) vs. Robert Rolison (R)

2020 election: James Skoufis (D) 57.06%, Steve Brescia (R) 42.94%

2020 presidential election (new district lines): Biden +10 

2020 presidential election (old district lines): Even split

Voter registration: 78,282 active Democrats, 54,713 active Republicans

After state Sen. James Skoufis found himself redistricted into the newly drawn District 42, his seat opened up in Hudson Valley’s District 39. Skoufis has endorsed Democratic nominee Julie Shiroishi in this race against Republican opponent Robert Rolison. Shiroishi, who is the chair of the Dutchess County Democratic Committee, joined the political world after a career in publishing and then raising kids, working as chief of staff in 2019 for Assembly Member Jonathan Jacobson. Her campaign has centered around the economy, climate change, abortion rights and education. The voting patterns of the district, mainly due to redistricting, have made for a likely favorable outcome for Shiroishi. Rolison, who’s serving his second term as mayor of Poughkeepsie, has centered his campaign around his work fixing the city’s economic issues. Rolison has name recognition, but he has come under fire for the city’s significant financial stress in 2021 following a report by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. Both candidates have about the same amount in campaign funds on hand as of October, Shiroishi with $81,000 and Rolison with $84,000.

Our take: Likely Democrat


Sue Serino (R, incumbent) vs. Michelle Hinchey (D, incumbent)

2020 election: Sue Serino (R) 52.52%, Karen S. Smythe (D) 47.48%

2020 presidential election (new district lines): Biden +14 

2020 presidential election (old district lines): Biden +10

Voter registration: 85,954 active Democrats, 58,950 active Republicans

These two state senators find themselves in the unique position of running against a fellow sitting senator after the new state Senate map placed them both in the same district. Republican state Sen. Sue Serino will face first-term Democratic state Sen. Michelle Hinchey, who currently represents the 46th District. The pair of mid-Hudson Valley legislators have even worked together during their overlapping time in the state Senate, co-sponsoring a bill that directed New York’s commissioner of agriculture and markets to create a public awareness campaign about Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses that Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law last year. Abortion rights are a hot-button issue in this race. In the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Hinchey sponsored legislation to protect health care workers and abortion rights in the state; Serino later voted against the bill once it was brought to the state Senate floor. In the most recent campaign disclosure from October, Hinchey had a $370,000 war chest and Serino had a little over $247,000. Democrats seem intent on Hinchey holding her seat, with the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee having transferred nearly $300,000 directly into her campaign account, the most the committee has spent on a single candidate so far this year. The Senate Republican Campaign Committee has spent about $47,000 for Serino.

Our take: Likely Democrat


James Skoufis (D, incumbent) vs. Dorey Houle (R)

2020 election: Mike Martucci (R) 50.51%, Jen Metzger (D) 49.49%

2020 presidential election (new district lines): Trump +3.2 

2020 presidential election (old district lines): Biden +1 

Voter registration: 69,858 active Democrats, 57,414 active Republicans 

After deciding against a congressional bid to clear the field for Rep. Pat Ryan, state Sen. James Skoufis decided he’d launch his reelection in the newly drawn 42nd District. He avoided a matchup with state Sen. Mike Martucci, who currently represents the district, after the Republican decided not to run for reelection. A GOP vacancy committee chose Republican Monroe Town Council Member Dorey Houle to run against Skoufis. Houle conceded that this race is an “uphill battle,” but remains optimistic heading into the election. Skoufis has an eye-popping $1 million in campaign funds, while Houle has just a little over $28,000 heading into the election. Political experts who spoke with City & State agree this will be a tight race and will be indicative of how each party is doing as a whole in New York state.

Our take: Lean Democrat


Jake Ashby (R) vs. Andrea Smyth (D)

2020 election: Daphne Jordan (R) 52.67%, Patrick Nelson (D) 47.33%

2020 presidential election (new district lines): Biden +9

2020 presidential election (old district lines): Biden +5

Voter registration: 72,095 active Democrats, 51,709 active Republicans

This is an open race for the seat currently held by state Sen. Daphne Jordan, who decided to run for reelection in District 44 because of redistricting – then later dropped out of the race ahead of the Republican primary. Assembly Member Jake Ashby will face Democrat Andrea Smyth for the district where there are now 20,000 more enrolled Democrats than Republicans, and where nearly 60,000 independent voters live as well. Smyth, who’s president and CEO of the New York State Coalition for Children’s Behavioral Health, has largely self-funded her campaign, lending herself $100,000 with her husband, Ron Massaroni. She ran for Rensselaer County executive in 2017, losing to Republican Steve McLaughlin. Ashby, a veteran, has the advantage of representing Assembly District 107, which overlaps with District 43. Heading into the election, Ashby has about $55,000 cash on hand while Smyth has $80,000. Although Democrats have not spent on the race, the Senate Republican Campaign Committee has invested a little under $36,000 to support Ashby.

Our take: Lean Republican


Michelle Ostrelich (D) vs. James Tedisco (R, Incumbent)

2020 election: Neil Breslin (D) 73.08%, David Yule (R) 26.92%

2020 presidential election (new district lines): Biden +12

2020 presidential election (old district lines): District changed significantly

Voter registration: 74,224 active Democrats, 69,865 active Republicans

This open race for a district just north of Albany is also a rematch. In 2018, incumbent Republican state Sen. James Tedisco was faced by Democratic challenger Michelle Ostrelich but ultimately defended his seat by 19 points in a district that went on to favor Biden in 2020. In 2018, which was a good year for Democrats, Ostrelich narrowly carried the parts of the district that were in Schenectady County, but Tedisco cleaned up in the parts of the district in suburban and rural Saratoga County. Both areas partially overlap with the new District 44. This time around, Ostrelich, a Schenectady County legislator, has positioned herself as a Democrat who’s campaigning on reproductive rights issues as well as voting rights and climate change. Ostrelich may have a better chance this time around since Democrats have an edge over Republicans in this newly drawn district, but nearly 60,000 independent voters have a way of making things less predictable. Ostrelich will likely have a hard time going up against the name recognition of Tedisco, who has served in the state Legislature for almost three decades. Tedisco currently represents District 49 and decided to run in this district after redistricting, even amid protests from fellow state Senate Republicans. As of October, Tedisco has about $118,406 in cash on hand while Ostrelich has $61,000.

Our Take: Lean Republican


Lea Webb (D) vs. Richard David (R)

2020 election: Fred Akshar (R) 87.44%, Thomas Quiter (L) 12.56%

2020 presidential election (new district lines): Biden +21

2020 presidential election (old district lines): District changed significantly

Voter registration: 77,186 active Democrats, 51,658 active Republicans

District 52 changed dramatically during redistricting, shifting north from the Southern Tier into Cortland and Tompkins counties and becoming much, much bluer. Democratic former Binghamton City Council Member Lea Webb has focused much of her political career on climate change, fair housing and health care. Webb had an easy primary win against Leslie Danks Burke, securing 60% of the vote and all three counties of the district: Broome, Cortland and Tompkins. Webb will now face Republican Binghamton Mayor Richard David, who has focused his campaign on crime, bail reform and inflation. Although the new district still spans a lot of those Republican areas from the old district, Democrats now outnumber Republicans by over 25,000 registered voters. Webb has the enrollment advantage, but David has the fundraising advantage. David has about $79,000 in cash on hand heading into the election, while Webb has $68,000. Democrats have spent just under $40,000 to support Webb, while Republicans haven’t spent on the race.

Our take: Lean Democrat

Rebecca C. Lewis and Holly Pretsky contributed reporting.

Corrections and clarifications: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story erroneously said there were 44 new state senators in 2020. There were 44 new lawmakers in the state Legislature. An earlier version of the story gave the wrong reason for the court rejection of the Legislature's state Senate maps and erroneously called Steven Rhoads a former Nassau County legislator when he is still serving in that role.

NEXT STORY: For NY politics nerds: Here are the debates to watch before the election November 8