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Elections

Dean Skelos predicts GOP control in NY state Senate race

ALBANY -- 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 totals 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.

Skelos believes the GOP will eventually pull out a victory in a newly created Catskills/Capital Region district. Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk currently leads Republican George Amedore by 139 votes, but there is an estimated 8,000 absentee and provisional ballots yet to be counted.

As for the second, there's speculation that Simcha Felder, a Democrat who toppled state Sen. David Storobin (R-Brooklyn), would conference with the Republicans, not his fellow Democrats.

Skelos wouldn't address the question directly but said: "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. The caucus issued a post-election statement that didn't address governance of the Senate.

Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens), 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 also posted upset wins in the Rochester and Poughkeepsie areas.

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