With New York City tabloid front pages screaming "Bums Away" and "Throw the Bums Out" voters on Tuesday through some scares at members of New York's maligned state Legislature.
Voters rejected Democratic Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx, veteran Democratic Sen. Bill Stachowski of Buffalo, and former Sen. Hiram Monserrate of Queens in an Assembly race, while Sen. Antoine Thompson and Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, both Buffalo Democrats, narrowly led opponents.
It comes after two years of several scandals in the Democratic majority won in 2008, record high taxes in a fiscal crisis, increased state spending and a budget this year that was four months late.
Perhaps the most closely watched race was in the Bronx. There, Espada was badly trailing Gustavo Rivera as Espada is accused of illegally directing millions of dollars in government grants to his health clinic. Espada also led a coup with Republicans in the summer of 2009 that gridlocked the Senate.
With 29 percent of the vote in, Rivera had 67 percent of the vote.
The first incumbent to fall was state Stachowski, the senator from Buffalo, who conceded by 10 p.m. to Timothy Kennedy, the product of powerful South Buffalo politics.
Stachowski was part of the two-year-old Democratic majority in the Senate marked by turmoil and partisan gridlock.
Stachowski had served in the Senate since 1980 and briefly held up the state budget as he tried, and ultimately failed, to secure a measure that would have given the State University of New York and its University at Buffalo more autonomy to grow to the top academic ranks of the nation.
Although the majority in the state Senate won't be in doubt in the intraparty primary contests, several Democrats from William Stachowski of Erie County to Neil Breslin of Albany County find their years of experience working against them as voters show in campaign events and in polls that they continue be angry at high taxes and politics as usual.
Polls showed for the first time that New Yorkers who have for decades hated the Legislature but liked their own Assembly member or senator, now by a narrow majority think their representative needs to go.
Two years ago, Democrats gained control of the state Senate for the first time in more than 40 years, with all the power and perks of Albany's majority-driven system. But since then, the Republican minority has voted as a bloc against most major issues and mounted a coup in the summer of 2008 with two Democrats, including Espada. Soon after, Espada and Monserrate, the former senator from Queens, jumped back to the Democrats for lucrative leadership positions.
Monserrate was expelled from the Senate in February after he was convicted in a domestic violence incident. He was trailing in his effort to win an Assembly seat in western Queens against Francisco Moya, who works for Cablevision in the government affairs department. The seat is open following the election of Jose R. Peralta to Monserrate's Senate seat.