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Long IslandPolitics

LI a battleground for state Senate control, records show

ALBANY — Republicans are pouring money into the state Senate campaigns of six incumbents in the closing weeks of the legislative races while Democrats are countering with big spending on two of the races on Long Island as control of the Senate is up for grabs.

The big fight for control of the Senate, the last bastion of power for the GOP in state government, is on Long Island.

The late spending, all in October, is an indicator of which races the Senate campaign committees fear they may lose and which they believe they may score upsets in to determine control of the chamber, where Republicans have a razor-thin majority.

The Senate’s Republican majority spent $969,600 in October and still had $1.3 million on hand as of the financial filings required 11 days before the Nov. 8 election. The records were posted Monday.

The Democratic Senate committee spent $696,266 in October and had $509,890 left on hand in the latest filings.

The Republican Senate Campaign Committee has given Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset), who has held the seat since 1995, $105,000 in October. The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has given his challenger, Jim Gaughran of Northport, chairman of the Suffolk County Water Authority, $386,00 during the same period.

Republicans have outspent Democrats in October to keep the State Senate seat vacated by Jack Martins, who is running for Congress. The Senate Republican committee has spent $336,808 in October for Elaine Phillips, the Flower Hill mayor. Democrats boosted the campaign of her opponent, businessman and Roslyn school board member Adam Haber, with $45,557 on Oct. 24.

The Republican committee has given more than $91,000 to the campaign of Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City), the longtime chairman of the Senate Health Committee. The Democratic Senate committee gave his opponent, Ryan Cronin of Garden City, $136,696 on Oct. 4. Cronin, a lawyer, lost narrowly to Hannon four years ago.

Democrats also have renewed efforts in trying to topple Sen. Michael Venditto (R-Oyster Bay) with challenger John Brooks after the recent arrest of Venditto’s father, Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, on federal corruption charges.

“We’ve always known that Nassau County was the going to be crucial,” said Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens), who runs the Senate Democrats’ campaign committee. “The people are upset with the direction Albany is taking over the last 40 years and the know who to blame: the Senate Republicans who have been in charge almost all of that time.”

Republicans are again running against what they say is the influence of New York City’s mayor Bill de Blasio. “The New York City Democrats have made a play for several Long Island seats,” said Scott Reif, spokesman for the Senate’s Republican majority. “I think it’s important to make sure the voters recognize what that means. Voting to support the New York City Democrats will put Bill de Blasio at the head of the table; he’ll be setting the state’s agenda.”

But Republicans also must protect incumbents in other tight races around the state: Sen. George Amedore (R-Kingston) received $335,000 from the Senate GOP in October; Sen. William Larkin (R-Cornwall-on-Hudson) received $270,000 in October, and first-term Sen. Sue Serino (R-Poughkeepsie) received $223,000.

Senate rules require 32 votes to pass legislation. There are 31 Republicans and a conservative Democrat who sits with the GOP to form the majority. There are 26 mainline Democrats and five Democrats in the separate Independent Democratic Conference.


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