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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Democrats try to sell Senate majority as good for LI

The New York Senate Chamber at the Capitol

The New York Senate Chamber at the Capitol on June 20, 2014, in Albany. Credit: AP / Mike Groll

Showing a united front and buttressed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's recent vow of support, State Senate Democrats are trying to turn around the usual Republican pitch to voters -- which goes that keeping all nine Long Island seats in GOP hands maximizes the clout of Nassau and Suffolk in Albany.

"If there's going to be a Democratic majority, we would want to have as many senators as possible," Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer said Friday. "In a majority, you can deliver more for your district and for your region."

Schaffer said it's the same rationale that's cited for getting local Democrats elected to the Assembly, where the party controls a big majority.

Suffolk hosts one of the more widely watched statewide contests in the 3rd Senate District, where Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) is running for Congress. Adrienne Esposito and Joseph Fritz are vying for the Democratic nomination against Islip GOP Supervisor Tom Croci.

But the Senate GOP conference under Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) pounds away at the message that a loss of Republican clout in the Senate would put Long Island under the thumb of an all-Democratic state government, dominated by New York City.

They've contended that the last, brief reign by Democrats meant a detrimental shift in school aid, an unpopular Metropolitan Transportation Authority payroll tax and other negatives.

GETTING ON BOARD: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tapped well-known attorney Richard Emery last week as part-time chairman of the NYPD Civilian Complaint Review Board. In March, Emery and his firm announced a lawsuit against a different city entity, the Campaign Finance Board, on behalf of former mayoral candidate John Liu. City conflict-of-interest rules do not bar part-time board members from interacting for pay with other boards. Emery, meanwhile, is no stranger to Police Commissioner William Bratton who, while considering running for mayor 14 years ago, included Emery in his "kitchen cabinet."

LIRR AFTERMATH: Last week's contract agreement averting a Long Island Rail Road strike left questions in its wake -- including just how much pension and health care concessions would offset wage costs, and how city bus and subway workers will respond in their next contract round, having settled under different negotiating conditions for lesser wage hikes in April. On the revenue side, that billion-dollar-plus a year MTA payroll tax enacted in 2009 looks pretty important after all.

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