NY Senate control in flux

ALBANY -- Republicans and Democrats were in a pitched and expensive battle for control of the state Senate, and Republicans were winning key races Tuesday night in the Hudson Valley and upstate.
 
Swing races in the Hudson Valley and western New York were breaking for Republicans, who went into Election Day with a one-seat majority only because a Democrat, Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, sits with them.
 
But late Tuesday, key races on Long Island were still undecided, putting control of the chamber in flux.
Sen. Sue Serino, R-Hyde Park, Dutchess County, declared victory in a rematch against Democrat Terry Gipson, and
 
Sen. Terrence Murphy, R-Yorktown, Westchester County was also winning against Democrat Alison Boak.
 
"In an election year defined by divisive negativity, local voters stood up for local control of our community and got behind a positive campaign," Serino said in a statement.
 
Sen. George Latimer, D-Rye, was winning against Republican Julie Killian in a competitive Westchester race.
 
Sen. George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, Schenectady County, also won a battleground seat that stretches across the Albany area and into Ulster County.
 
"I remain committed to being a strong voice for upstate New York and fighting to ensure communities throughout the 46th district get their fair share," he said in a statement.
 
In Buffalo, Republican Chris Jacobs won, picking up a GOP seat that had been held by Democrat Marc Panepinto, who did not seek re-election.
 
In the Southern Tier, Sen. Thomas O'Mara, R-Big Flats, Chemung County, was leading Democrat challenger Leslie Danks Burke late Tuesday night.
 
Still, four Senate races on Long Island were too close to call as of late Tuesday. So neither side could immediately declare victory.
 
Millions of dollars were spent by special-interest groups to try to influence the races.
The state's fiscal policies, social issues and immigration positions are at stake depending on who runs the Senate next year.
 
There's another twist: There's an Independent Democratic Conference that has previously aided Republicans in the majority.
 
And the conference is growing: It had five members earlier this year, but now it's up to seven members in the 63-seat conference.
 
On Monday, the IDC added its seventh member, Sen. Jesse Hamilton, a Democrat from Brooklyn.
 
"Six years ago, our conference grew out of a mission to make positive change in this state, and today its continued growth is a validation of its success," the conference, headed by Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, who represents parts of lower Westchester County, said in a statement Monday night.
 
Republicans have held the Senate majority for most of the last half century, but Democrats went into this year's elections hopeful they could regain a majority they lost in 2010 after two years marred by scandal.
 
The presidential race was expected to help Democrats because of high turnout and the state's two-to-one Democratic enrollment edge.
 
Republicans sought to tout their record, which in working with Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Democratic-led Assembly included income-tax cuts, a property-tax cap and record aid for schools.
 
They've also warned a Democratic-controlled Senate would mean both the legislative and executive branches would be controlled by one party, often citing the pending influence of liberal New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in attack ads.
 
Cuomo, meanwhile, had gotten more involved in Senate races than he had during his six years in office.
 
He actively campaigned for Democrats and transferred some campaign cash to key races, saying it was time for the party to control the Senate after touting his working relationship with Republicans since he took office in 2011.
 
Democrats said they would support additional ethics and campaign-finance reforms, tuition assistance for immigrants in the country illegally and stronger abortion rights.
 
"That’s my agenda this year," Cuomo said Sunday in Elmsford, Westchester County, "to have a government that people really trust, together with the competence that we’ve already established.
 
"So, a Democratic House, a Democratic Senate, new Democrats in the New York State Senate and you’re going to see an entirely different New York and an entirely different America."
 


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