State Senate Control Still Hangs in the Balance
The New York State Senate majority currently hangs in the balance, as Republicans currently hold 30 seats and Democrats 29, with three races left to be decided. Democrats are hoping that a closer examination of votes in Westchester, Nassau, and Buffalo will lead to victories, but if Republicans take two of the seats, they will win the majority.
“On Election Day there were widespread problems throughout the state with the new voting machines, underscoring the need for recounts in some contests,” said Austin Shafran, spokesman for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, in a press release. “Once all votes are counted, it will be clear Democrats have maintained their majority.”
According to Scott Reif, Senate Republican spokesman, the GOP is ahead in two of the races, while closely trailing in Westchester’s 37th district with still approximately 10,000 votes left to be counted.
The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has announced the hiring of Ken Gross, an election law expert, to their “voter protection team.” Gross is the head of the political law practice at the firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. He also served as the head of enforcement for the Federal Election Commission from 1979 to 1986.
“This is just postponing the inevitable,” Reif said. “And the inevitable is that the Republicans are going to be the Senate majority in January.”
Although Republican Assemblyman Greg Ball appeared to have taken the 40th district state senate race as of election night, opponent Mike Kaplowitz, a Westchester legislator, has not yet conceded.
Reif said that the race won’t be affected by the hiring of Gross: “Ball has won that race. Nobody who is impartial believes that race is yet to be decided. Greg Ball is the next senator for that district.”
The 40th district includes parts of Dutchess and Westchester and all of Putnam. The seat had long been held by Republican Vincent Leibell, who was recently elected as Putnam County Executive.
Josh Luger, a spokesman for Kaplowitz, said that he is waiting to see if there are more votes out there, considering reports of malfunctioning machines in Westchester. Within the next few days, Luger said, Kaplowitz should have a better picture of what his course of action will be.
A Republican senate would offer a balance in Albany, with the executive mansion and the state assembly controlled by Democrats. In 2008, Democrats took the majority in the traditionally Republican state senate for the first time in 40 years.