New York Voters to Decide Which Party Controls the State Senate

What to Know

  • All 63 seats in the Senate and 150 seats in the Assembly are up for election this year.
  • Republicans currently control the Senate, and Democrats control the Assembly and hold the governor's office
  • Competitive races on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley will be a major factor in the final outcome on Tuesday

New York voters heading to the polls Tuesday will choose which party controls the New York state Senate - a decision that could give Democrats complete control of state government.

The outcome is likely to come down to a handful of competitive races on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley.

Democrats are hoping the presidential race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump will boost their party's turnout and translate into down-ballot victories. Recent polls give Clinton a big lead over Trump in New York state.

Republicans currently have a one-seat majority in the 63-member Senate. Democrats control the Assembly and hold the offices of governor, comptroller and attorney general.

"People are realizing the Democratic candidates have better solutions than the Republicans who have been in charge," said state Sen. Mike Gianaris, D-Queens, who is leading the Democrats' Senate election effort.

Democrats say a victory in the state Senate Tuesday would make it easier to pass government ethics reforms and tighter campaign finance limits that Republicans have historically blocked.

Republicans warn one-party rule by Democrats would lead to higher taxes and give too much power to New York City at the expense of upstate. GOP candidates say Trump, who has promised to build a wall between the United States and Mexico and has appeared on tape talking about groping women, isn't a factor. Voters want the Senate to stay in GOP hands to be a counter balance to the Democrats, according to Sen. Kemp Hannon, R-Long Island.

"They're very cognizant of it because of what we have been successful in doing (as the GOP majority)," he said.

Hannon faces Democratic challenger Ryan Cronin in one closely watched matchup. In another hot race on Long Island, Republican candidate Elaine Phillips faces Democrat Adam Haber for an empty seat formerly held by a Republican.

The Hudson Valley has at least two competitive races: longtime Republican Sen. Bill Larkin faces Democrat Chris Eachus and Republican Sen. Sue Serino is defending her seat against Democrat Terry Gipson.

All 63 seats in the Senate and 150 seats in the Assembly are up for election this year. Democrats hold a commanding majority in the Assembly, and Republicans maintain a tenuous hold on the Senate thanks to an unusual agreement with a handful of breakaway Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Conference.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo took an active role in this year's races, endorsing Democratic candidates and headlining fundraisers. He said Senate Republicans are standing in the way of broad ethics reforms, criminal justice changes, tighter campaign finance restrictions and the Dream Act, which would extend financial aid to students in the country illegally.

The Democrats are led by state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, of Yonkers. If her party prevails, it's expected that it would reach out to Independent Democratic Conference Leader Sen. Jeff Klein, of the Bronx, to discuss a new coalition.

Polls close at 9 p.m.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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