ALBANY -- Control of the State Senate will now be fought out in an upstate courthouse, after a recount Tuesday failed to produce a clear winner of the final disputed race.
In the newly created 46th Senate District, a Catskills-Capital Region seat covering parts of five counties, Republican George Amedore held a slim 111-vote lead over Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk after attorneys finished counting absentee and emergency ballots.
But because the two sides have asked for nearly 900 individual ballots to be temporarily set aside for judicial review, victory is still up for grabs. A court hearing has already been scheduled for Thursday in Montgomery County for a judge and Republican and Democrat lawyers to begin poring over ballot after disputed ballot.
At stake is whether Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and Republicans hold on to the one bastion of state government they control. At the moment, Republicans and Democrats each count 31 senators in their corner pending the outcome of the Amedore-Tkaczyk race.
On Election Day in the 46th, Tkaczyk, a farmer and school board member, emerged with a surprising 139-vote lead over Amedore, an assemblyman from Schenectady, who led in the polls most of the fall.
After absentee and emergency ballots were counted in four of the five counties, Amedore seized a 920-vote lead. But when officials got to the final county, Ulster, a Tkaczyk stronghold, Amedore's lead began to shrink.
Importantly, party lawyers had asked for around 870 ballots to be set aside for review to determine if the ballots should be disqualified. Though the exact count varies slightly, about 660 of those objections came from Republicans; typically, Republicans object to likely Democrat voters and vice versa. If that holds true and if a judge rules that all the disputed votes must be counted, then Amedore's lead could disappear.
If Tkaczyk wins, Democratic control of the chamber still might not be assured.
That's because the spotlight will immediately shift to state Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) and his four-member "Independent Democratic Conference" that has refused say whether it will back a Democrat to lead the chamber or go with Skelos.
Klein and Skelos met recently and several days later, Klein penned a newspaper op-ed pitching the idea of "coalition" government.