Partisan anomalies common in State Senate

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos at the State

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos at the State Capitol in Albany. (Credit: Steve Jacobs, 2010)

Dan Janison

Melville. N.Y. Tuesday January 26, 2010. Daniel Janison, Dan Janison

Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday for 10

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Of the 32 Republicans who make up the State Senate majority, 16 serve in districts where more Democrats than GOP voters are enrolled, according to the state's most recent registration figures. That number stands to reach 17 -- a majority of the house's majority -- if recounts confirm Republican David Storobin as winner of last month's special election in Brooklyn's 27th District.

These partisan anomalies, which are especially dramatic in Nassau and Suffolk, are expected to survive even after court challenges to a new state legislative map are completed and new lines take effect in November.

On Long Island, Republicans hold all nine seats, yet six districts have more Democrats than Republicans, including the 9th, represented by Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre).

Reasons vary. Turnout doesn't always match enrollment. Many voters cross partisan lines. Longtime incumbents enjoy an edge. And, at least as importantly, voters without party affiliation -- known as "blanks" -- form a sizable share of the electorate.

Meanwhile, Democrats represent none of the 16 districts where Republicans outnumber them. Die-hard Democrats say this means they have nowhere to go but up in the upper house and will win it back; Republicans note differences between how people may enroll and how they vote.

FURTHER DELAYS: In January, Patrick Foye quit as the MTA's Nassau board member when he began as Port Authority executive director. A replacement has yet to be identified. County Executive Edward Mangano has been sending his public-safety deputy, Vic Politi, to MTA meetings, said spokesman Brian Nevin, but on a board nominee, "We have no further comment at this time."

BACK IN THE MIX: Former Nassau Comptroller Howard Weitzman has made what friends call an inspiring recovery from a rare blood disease. He's produced op-ed pieces and attended Democratic fundraisers and other events. Might he return to public life? Says Weitzman: "I could tell you this: My doctors said I can do anything I want now."

HOT TOPIC: In the aftermath of last week's brush fires, Mangano and Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone are due to join members of the state Firemen's Association and local fire chiefs Monday for a news conference in Garden City to help kick off efforts to recruit volunteer firefighters. Saturday begins New York's second annual "Recruit NY" weekend, when local fire departments host open houses.