ALBANY — Blue wave vs. one-party control.
The battle for the New York State Senate might not have the cache of races for governor or Congress, but it could be the hottest in the state in November.
And it rides on two overarching arguments, or slogans, put forth by either side.
The pitch from Republicans, who hold a 32-31 Senate advantage: State government shouldn’t be controlled by one party and shouldn’t be dominated by New York City lawmakers.
The Democrats counter: New York is an overwhelmingly progressive state that’s been held back by a gerrymandered Senate for too long and it’s time to send a message about opposing the Trump agenda.
Versions of the exchange are playing out in a series of key Senate races on Long Island and elsewhere.
For years, Republicans have been able to hold on to the one branch of state government they control, the Senate, by maximizing the “balanced government” argument, analysts said.
Democrats hold the Executive Mansion, the comptroller and attorney general offices and the state’s two U.S. Senate seats. None of those seats are projected, at this point, to flip to Republican. And the state Assembly is overwhelmingly Democratic.
The question is, one analyst said: Does the argument still resonate or is Trump a much bigger element in this year’s election?
“It’s been a reliable issue [for Republicans] but will its currency be so valuable if the issue is Trump?” said Eric Lane, a Hofstra University Law School professor and former state Senate staff attorney.
Democrats, from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to all the way down the ticket, have sought to make Trump a central issue.
“The fear of Trump is real,” Cuomo said in a theme that unites many Democrats.
Presidents can loom over many elections, especially those for Congress. But this time, the occupant of the White House matters “more so than usual,” said Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens), who leads the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.
A Republican campaign consultant, who asked to remain anonymous, said Trump’s unpopularity in New York is a factor.
“Is there a concern because of what’s going on in Washington? Yes,” said the consultant, who is encouraging candidates to address the subject by saying: “But this isn’t about that. This is about balance in government.”
If Trump is the Democrats’ bogeyman, the Republican version is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“Long Island can’t afford the de Blasio agenda,” Republican Jeff Pravato, who is running against. Sen. John Brooks (D-Seaford), says in his first campaign ad, which equates de Blasio with higher taxes.