Watching the New York Senate

The divided government argument that some Republicans are employing in federal elections is also being put to good use in New York State. Democrats only ...
by | October 31, 2008

M Smith and Paterson The divided government argument that some Republicans are employing in federal elections is also being put to good use in New York State. Democrats only need to gain two seats Tuesday to take over the state Senate for the first time in more than 40 years.

Republicans are warning not only of unified Democratic control for the first time since 1935, but pointing out that all three of the state's top leaders -- Gov. David Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Democratic leader Malcolm Smith -- all hail from New York City.

"The reality is that if Democrats take over, you're going to get more 'city' representation," Henry L. Taylor Jr., director of the University at Buffalo's Center for Urban Studies, told the Buffalo News.

New York Democrats hope that general enthusiasm for their party will put them over the top. The Journal News of Westchester County reports on voter registration figures, noting that enrollment does not mean straight-party voting:

Republicans in 2006 held a roughly 8,600 edge in enrollment over Democrats in Sen. James Alesi's 55th District, which covers the eastern Monroe County suburbs. But with more than 8,200 voters enrolling as Democrats since the last Senate election, the Republican lead is down to just about 500 voters as Alesi faces Democrat David Nachbar.

The 61st District, which is an open seat in western New York and a critical race for both parties, now has 5,800 fewer Republicans than it did in 2006. So instead of a 9,794 enrollment edge the GOP enjoyed, the lead is now about 4,100.

The other day, Newsday speculated about the possibility of the chamber ending up in a tie, getting Paterson to say he could easily see that happening, or either party ending up with a one-seat majority. The Long Island paper also provided a handy tip sheet on races to watch:

Too close to call

Suffolk (Islip and Brookhaven Towns): Thirty-six-year incumbent Caesar Trunzo (R) vs. Brookhaven Supervisor Brian Foley (D). Most competitive of the nine races on Long Island.

Queens: Incumbent Serphin Maltese (R) vs. City Councilman Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D). Poll last month showed candidates tied.

North Country: Dairy farmer Darrel Aubertine (D) vs. lawyer David Renzi (R). Republicans hope to win back seat they held for more than a century but lost in February to Aubertine.

Rochester: Incumbent

Joseph Robach (R) vs. former State Sen. Richard Dollinger (D). Robach, a former Democrat and son of popular former assemblyman, leads in a combative race.

Buffalo: Incumbent William Stachowski (D) vs. Dennis Delano (R), a cold-case investigator who has gained national attention. Party insiders were stunned by a poll showing Delano with a substantial lead.

Buffalo suburbs: Former boxing champion Joe Mesi (D) vs. Erie County Legis. Michael Ranzenhofer (R). A poll last month showed candidates tied in race to succeed retiring Sen. Mary Lou (R).

Potential upsets

Nassau (Hempstead and Oyster towns): Twenty-year incumbentKemp Hannon (R) vs. lawyer Kristen McElroy (D). Re-election of Hannon, a health care expert, could be impacted by voter turnout in minority communities for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Queens: Incumbent Frank Padavan (R) vs. Councilman James Gennaro (D). Padavan could fall in an Obama landslide because of the district's large Democratic enrollment.


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