Even though results showed Democrats leading in 33 of 63 state Senate races, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos predicted Wednesday the Republicans will control the chamber on Jan. 1, perhaps indicating that backroom maneuvering was in full swing.
Election Day results showed that the Democrats might have won back a majority, though at least one race will be decided by absentee votes.
To maintain control, Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) would have to pick off at least two seats.
For one, Skelos thinks the GOP will eventually pull out a victory in a newly created Catskills/Capital Region district. Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk (pronounced KAT-chick) currently leads Republican George Amedore by 139 votes but there is an estimated 8,000 absentee and provisional ballots yet to be counted, and Skelos thinks the GOP can reverse the Election-Day outcome.
As for the second, there’s speculation that Simcha Felder, a Democrat who toppled Sen. David Storobin (D-Brooklyn) would conference with the Republicans, not his fellow Democrats. A Brooklyn newspaper reported during the campaign that Felder said he'd sit with Republicans if elected.
Skelos wouldn’t address the question directly but did say: “Simcha Felder has indicated he wants to do what’s best for his community.” And, Skelos added several times: “I'm saying, we are going to have an operating majority on Jan. 1.”
There’s also the possibility that the four-member “Independent Democratic Caucus,” led by Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) could also throw his support behind Skelos. The caucus last year broke off from the other Democrats in the chamber and occasionally voted with Republicans on key issues.
Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) wouldn’t directly address what Klein and Felder might do but said they should stick with the party.
Gianaris, head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, said that voters “sent a strong and definitive” message that they want Democrats to control the Senate, backing an agenda that includes raising the minimum wage and tightening gun control.
“I would urge anyone elected last night as a Democrat to heed the message,” Gianaris said.
Republicans went into the election holding a 33-29 advantage in the Senate, ending a two-year run of Democratic control in 2010. The Senate is the one area of state government the GOP controls. One new seat was created this year through the redistricting process.
Democrats posted upset wins in the Rochester and Poughkeepsie areas, and beat Storobin as expected in Brooklyn. A Tkaczyk win in the new district would also be considered a surprise, as polls showed Amedore with a slight lead through most of the race.