A poll released Tuesday shows Democratic Assemb. Todd Kaminsky and Republican Christopher McGrath “neck and neck” in the race to replace convicted former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.
The Siena College poll of 529 likely voters in the 9th Senate District shows Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) leading McGrath, an attorney, 47 percent to 45 percent, with 8 percent of voters undecided. The poll has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points. The special election is April 19.
Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said the race will “be a barnburner between now and April 19.”
The poll shows Kaminsky has an 18-point advantage in his heavily Democratic 20th Assembly District. The Long Beach district comprises 40 percent of the Senate district.
But in the adjacent 21st District, represented by Assemb. Brian Curran (R-Lynbrook), McGrath leads by 15 points. The 21st District, which has a higher number of registered Republican voters, represents 40 percent of the district.
The remaining 20 percent of the Senate district is divided among several Assembly districts and leans toward Kaminsky 47 percent to 43 percent, with 9 percent of voters undecided, the poll showed.
“Todd Kaminsky leads this race because South Shore residents want to see change in Albany and locally, where dishonest leadership has led to dysfunction and corruption that is costing taxpayers,” said Kaminsky spokesman Evan Thies.
Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif said McGrath was “a virtual unknown five weeks ago” but is now in a “dead heat” for the seat. “Chris McGrath has all the momentum, all the energy and he’s going to win,” Reif said.
Green Party candidate Laurence Hirsh, an accountant from Valley Stream, is also running for the seat, but was not included in the poll.
District voters are nearly split on the top issues in the race, the poll shows.
A small majority believe Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor, would do a better job fighting corruption, ensuring convicted legislators lose their pensions and determining the appropriate level of outside income for state lawmakers.
Voters in the Senate district also trust Kaminsky more in dealing with the state’s minimum wage and demanding Long Island gets its fair share of superstorm Sandy relief.
But voters believe McGrath would do a better job of addressing Common Core eduction standards and representing the district in Albany.
The special election could help determine the balance of power in the Senate, now controlled by the GOP and a coalition of independent Democrats.