The New York Senate Part 2: 43? Democrats

As promised a few days ago, I’d post the second part of my proposed New York Senate map. So without further ado, here it is.

I also tried to have the numbers make more sense. The goal was to make the city entirely Democratic (except Staten Island), then to get as many districts out of upstate Democratic centers as possible.

I may have been a tad too aggressive upstate, with three Buffalo Dems, two Rochester Dems, two Syracuse Dems, two Albany Dems, and one Ithaca-Binghamton Dem (in addition to Aubertine).

I also tried to stick to one man-one vote and keep the deviations down, but I couldn’t resist underpacking some Democratic districts and overpacking Republican districts..

Why Presidential Toplines Don’t Mean Everything: The New York Senate

As long as I’ve been interested in politics, I’ve never understood how the NYS Senate was controlled by Republicans for so long, especially in a state as Democratic as New York.

So the purpose of my diary was two-fold: to understand the situation as it is now (our tenuous 2-seat majority), and to look at what a potential redistricting would look like that would cement Democratic control (for the next time…I don’t feel like formatting too much html.)

I started by analyzing Obama’s performance in each Senate district – after Pres-by-CD and the NY political data in Dave’s app, this wasn’t too difficult. Just follow me over the flip…

Here’s the massive table with results from Pres-by-SD.

Senator Residence Pop Black% Hisp% Asian% Obama McCain Total Obama% McCain%
1 Kenneth LaValle Port Jefferson 305,989 5.65% 7.71% 1.45% 85,057 74,138 159,269 53.40% 46.55%
2 John J. Flanagan East Northport 305,990 1.79% 4.68% 4.21% 73,525 77,560 151,625 48.49% 51.15%
3 Brian X. Foley Blue Point 305,989 7.95% 16.96% 1.99% 69,082 56,640 126,318 54.69% 44.84%
4 Owen H. Johnson West Babylon 305,991 9.78% 12.99% 1.88% 67,460 59,076 127,606 52.87% 46.30%
5 Carl Marcellino Syosset 305,990 3.42% 7.75% 4.92% 80,451 72,539 153,670 52.35% 47.20%
6 Kemp Hannon Garden City 305,993 16.66% 11.91% 3.24% 76,903 60,223 138,096 55.69% 43.61%
7 Craig Johnson Port Washington 305,991 8.80% 9.91% 8.47% 78,686 61,958 141,659 55.55% 43.74%
8 Charles Fuschillo Merrick 305,990 15.92% 11.20% 1.96% 80,004 63,438 144,437 55.39% 43.92%
9 Dean Skelos Rockville Centre 305,990 6.25% 9.29% 3.60% 77,566 70,225 148,869 52.10% 47.17%
10 Shirley Huntley Jamaica 318,481 54.20% 15.06% 8.00% 94,634 10,726 105,714 89.52% 10.15%
11 Frank Padavan Bellerose 318,482 6.27% 14.14% 25.93% 63,743 37,329 101,850 62.59% 36.65%
12 George Onorato Astoria 318,484 6.01% 33.07% 16.75% 69,037 17,247 87,177 79.19% 19.78%
13 Hiram Monserrate Jackson Heights 318,484 10.63% 55.89% 19.37% 51,451 10,827 62,586 82.21% 17.30%
14 Malcolm Smith St. Albans 318,481 54.54% 15.40% 7.07% 91,373 16,100 107,878 84.70% 14.92%
15 Joseph Addabbo, Jr. Ozone Park 318,484 3.28% 26.14% 11.77% 51,596 32,016 84,227 61.26% 38.01%
16 Toby Ann Stavisky Flushing 318,483 5.17% 15.07% 33.35% 58,858 30,976 90,539 65.01% 34.21%
17 Martin Malave Dilan Bushwick 311,260 22.03% 56.36% 4.36% 79,343 8,342 88,205 89.95% 9.46%
18 Velmanette Montgomery Boerum Hill 311,260 59.93% 24.45% 2.53% 116,578 3,794 120,895 96.43% 3.14%
19 John Sampson Canarsie 311,258 72.29% 15.14% 2.05% 96,181 6,859 103,181 93.22% 6.65%
20 Eric Adams Crown Heights 311,259 60.67% 14.96% 4.36% 100,485 8,865 109,880 91.45% 8.07%
21 Kevin Parker Flatbush 311,259 59.29% 10.53% 5.11% 77,979 14,333 92,623 84.19% 15.47%
22 Martin Golden Bay Ridge 311,260 0.75% 8.52% 16.34% 40,627 41,851 83,124 48.88% 50.35%
23 Diane Savino North Shore 311,259 17.56% 24.10% 14.04% 53,004 25,977 79,520 66.65% 32.67%
24 Andrew Lanza Great Kills 311,258 1.88% 7.26% 5.69% 47,334 74,699 122,819 38.54% 60.82%
25 Dan Squadron Brooklyn Heights 311,258 7.58% 19.53% 23.43% 100,660 20,183 121,874 82.59% 16.56%
26 Liz Krueger Upper East Side 311,260 2.11% 5.19% 8.32% 113,824 35,817 150,786 75.49% 23.75%
27 Carl Kruger Sheepshead Bay 311,259 5.62% 8.10% 11.49% 36,870 45,244 82,638 44.62% 54.75%
28 Jose M. Serrano Spanish Harlem 311,261 33.60% 56.68% 2.49% 85,514 6,496 92,391 92.56% 7.03%
29 Thomas Duane Upper West Side 311,260 5.96% 11.49% 8.10% 138,600 22,000 162,132 85.49% 13.57%
30 Bill Perkins Harlem 311,263 52.91% 29.44% 2.85% 124,514 5,631 130,838 95.17% 4.30%
31 Eric Schneiderman Washington Heights 311,257 10.44% 57.43% 3.09% 102,547 13,211 116,688 87.88% 11.32%
32 Rubén Díaz Soundview 311,260 34.51% 59.44% 2.72% 85,434 6,587 92,269 92.59% 7.14%
33 Pedro Espada “Bedford Park” 311,258 27.05% 59.68% 4.47% 68,950 6,677 75,885 90.86% 8.80%
34 Jeffrey Klein Throgs Neck 311,260 14.26% 22.93% 4.62% 62,555 37,231 100,472 62.26% 37.06%
35 Andrea Stewart-Cousins Yonkers 311,259 14.57% 20.29% 5.67% 82,773 45,243 128,999 64.17% 35.07%
36 Ruth Hassell-Thompson Williamsbridge 311,259 66.51% 28.03% 1.12% 102,049 4,246 106,465 95.85% 3.99%
37 Suzi Oppenheimer Mamaroneck 311,260 9.94% 17.33% 4.53% 91,559 48,668 141,325 64.79% 34.44%
38 Thomas Morahan Clarkstown 320,851 10.25% 9.76% 5.01% 78,407 71,146 150,561 52.08% 47.25%
39 Bill Larkin New Windsor 305,749 8.15% 10.70% 1.49% 72,792 62,702 137,003 53.13% 45.77%
40 Vincent Leibell Patterson 303,372 4.92% 7.65% 1.94% 78,210 69,735 149,355 52.37% 46.69%
41 Stephen Saland Poughkeepsie 301,528 8.84% 5.71% 2.33% 79,672 63,768 145,287 54.84% 43.89%
42 John Bonacic Mount Hope 301,290 5.90% 7.85% 1.12% 77,302 57,670 137,089 56.39% 42.07%
43 Roy McDonald Stillwater 302,261 3.15% 1.81% 1.47% 82,892 71,019 156,507 52.96% 45.38%
44 Hugh Farley Schenectady 302,248 3.92% 3.15% 1.20% 70,892 66,854 140,427 50.48% 47.61%
45 Betty Little Queensbury 299,603 3.19% 2.28% 0.46% 71,424 57,271 130,725 54.64% 43.81%
46 Neil Breslin Albany 294,565 11.08% 3.08% 2.72% 93,937 50,586 147,110 63.85% 34.39%
47 Joseph Griffo Rome 291,303 4.18% 2.40% 1.09% 57,564 58,571 117,986 48.79% 49.64%
48 Darrel Aubertine Cape Vincent 290,925 3.28% 2.66% 0.60% 54,020 52,929 108,583 49.75% 48.75%
49 David Valesky Oneida 291,303 11.65% 2.55% 1.77% 74,545 50,788 127,516 58.46% 39.83%
50 John DeFrancisco Syracuse 291,303 4.12% 2.03% 1.73% 79,553 59,549 141,861 56.08% 41.98%
51 James Seward Milford 291,482 1.88% 1.90% 0.51% 63,396 63,827 129,509 48.95% 49.28%
52 Thomas W. Libous Binghamton 291,961 2.44% 1.67% 2.04% 65,428 60,553 128,108 51.07% 47.27%
53 George H. Winner, Jr. Elmira 294,378 3.31% 1.77% 2.52% 63,163 58,440 123,246 51.25% 47.42%
54 Michael Nozzolio Fayette 291,303 3.33% 2.40% 1.03% 67,947 66,843 136,824 49.66% 48.85%
55 James Alesi East Rochester 301,947 6.20% 3.39% 2.61% 88,764 69,674 160,354 55.36% 43.45%
56 Joseph Robach Greece 301,947 24.50% 7.97% 2.44% 86,216 43,226 130,931 65.85% 33.01%
57 Catharine Young Olean 295,288 1.93% 2.74% 0.45% 53,902 62,151 118,065 45.65% 52.64%
58 William Stachowski Lake View 298,637 3.94% 4.80% 0.80% 74,167 55,222 131,724 56.30% 41.92%
59 Dale Volker Depew 294,256 2.21% 1.60% 0.49% 65,450 78,887 146,642 44.63% 53.80%
60 Antoine Thompson Buffalo 298,636 37.84% 4.14% 1.24% 87,908 25,277 114,604 76.71% 22.06%
61 Michael Ranzenhofer Clarence 298,635 2.40% 1.28% 2.57% 77,641 74,020 153,935 50.44% 48.09%
62 George D. Maziarz Newfane 301,947 4.68% 2.55% 0.92% 62,703 69,048 133,837 46.85% 51.59%

In case you’re wondering, McCain won a scant 9 districts of 62. Since one, the 27th, is represented by Carl Kruger, there are a whopping 22 “Obama Republicans” in the NY Senate. There are 8 black-majority districts: 2 in Queens, 4 in Brooklyn, 1 in Manhattan, and 1 in Bronx/Westchester. There are 6 Hispanic-majority districts, 1 in Queens, 1 in Brooklyn, 2 in the Bronx, and 2 Bronx-Manhattan hybrids.

Is this surprising? Not really – Presidential toplines aren’t necessarily indicative, and this is certainly true here. But looking at the results a little differently, a pretty clear line is drawn in the Obama 58-60% range.

So I’d like to propose Obama at 59% as the ‘safe’ line for a Democrat in the NY Senate – only two Republicans live above this line, and six Democrats below: Brian Foley (54.69%) and Craig Johnson of Long Island (55.55%); David Valesky (58.46%), whose district which runs between Rome, Syracuse, and Auburn; Darrel Aubertine of the North Country (49.75%); and Bill Stachowski (56.30%) of Buffalo, and Carl Kruger of Sheepshead Bay, who I don’t think counts for many reasons maybe better saved for a diary on voting patterns in Brooklyn.

Only two Republicans live above this line – both of whom faced stiff challenges in 2008 and nearly fell victim to the Obama tide, Frank Padavan of Bellerose (Obama+26) and James Robach of Greece (Obama+33) (!!…Robach is a former Democrat).

There aren’t too many other surprises on this list, except for maybe that the most Republican district in all of New York is Andrew Lanza’s Staten Island district…

So now you’re asking…what does this mean for redistricting?

Well, a few things moving forward:

  • the goal, unlike Congressional redistricting, is no longer solely to squeeze every Democratic district out possible, it’s to get to the magic number for control first.

  • at a certain point, the weakening effect (on the margin) from creating another Democratic district becomes greater than the effect of that marginal Democrat. (For example, is there really that much of a difference between 43 and 44 Democrats out of 62?) [Sidenote: Yes, in some cases, like marriage equality, it does…but if we had 11 more Dems in the Senate, I’m pretty sure the bill would have passed…]

  • the NYS GOP pushed the 5% up-or-down rule to the limit. Given the ideal district size of 306,072, districts in the city, on Long Island, and in Westchester have an average population of 311,344; the average population upstate is 298,269!

  • the GOP gerrymandered well upstate: they conceded two districts in Buffalo and one in Albany, but split Syracuse and Rochester two-ways, and Ithaca three to dilute Democratic votes. This happens on Long Island as well, where the Democratic center of Nassau County in Uniondale and Hempstead are split between Kemp Hannon (who did almost lose), Carl Marcellino, and Dean Skelos.

  • in a revised upstate (and Long Island) map, we simply need to uncrack these Democrats. This isn’t like congressional redistricting where Republicans need to be cracked so we can preserve our overwhelming advantage; we can concede a few districts without too much trouble. The same holds for Long Island and in the Hudson Valley.

  • the opposite holds true in the city, where we have a large surplus of Democratic votes that we can dilute the influence of Republican voters.

My plan made 43 districts above the safe line. Assuming we can’t knock off Robach and we keep both Stachowski and Kruger, we’d be talking 44 or 45 Democrats. Funny how much tweaking boundaries can change things. Stay tuned for the map itself.\

Update:As Andrew says, maps would be helpful. Here’s the senate as it currently is. I’m working on final maps for my proposed districts.

NY-Lt. Gov.: Paterson Will Attempt to Name a Lt. Gov.

David Paterson is going to attempt to do something many folks thought was unpossible:

Gov. David A. Paterson will name a lieutenant governor in a televised speech he has scheduled for late Wednesday afternoon, according to a person close to the governor.

It remains unclear, however, whom he will pick. …

Speculation in the capital ran rampant on Wednesday about a possible pick for the post, including the former Chief Judge Judith Kaye and Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi. Ms. Kaye did not return a call for comment. Mr. Suozzi indicated at an appearance on Wednesday that he would not be appointed, nor had sought the job.

Swing State Project sources also indicate that SSP Publisher DavidNYC is in the hunt. Apparently, Paterson, who represented the West Side for many years in the state Senate, wants to balance his ticket with someone from the East Side. Anyhow, how might Paterson accomplish this trick, given that the state constitution doesn’t specify anything about any line of succession for the Lt. Gov. spot?

But whether Mr. Paterson can legally appoint a lieutenant governor has been a matter of some debate. One school of thought, which has been advanced in recent days by Democrats and government watchdog groups, is that a provision of state law allows the governor to fill elected offices for which there is no provision explicitly spelling out how the vacancy should be handled.

But Republicans are sure to sue to block any such move, and even AG Andy Cuomo claimed that this would be an unconstitutional “political ploy.” Still, with such an embarrassing circus in Albany, anything that might put pressure on the Senate to bust its insane logjam could be helpful at this point – it’s pretty hard to see things getting worse. Stay tuned this afternoon.

(Hat-tip: Taegan Goddard)

UPDATE: I’m watching New York 1, and they just announced that Paterson will (attempt to) tap former MTA head Richard Ravitch. The Daily News confirms.

NY-St. Senate: Control Falls Back to GOP

Democrats took over control of the New York Senate with the 2008 election after decades of trying, but that flipped back to the GOP today with two defections.

A raucous leadership fight erupted on the floor of the Senate around 3 p.m., with two Democrats, Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx and Hiram Monserrate of Queens, joining the 30 Senate Republicans in a motion that would displace Democrats as the party in control.

This makes Dean Skelos the new majority leader by a 32-30 margin, although Espada and Monserrate don’t seem to have officially changed parties. This would seem to be a last-ditch effort to stop gay marriage from clearing the New York Senate, but oddly, the main Democratic obstruction on that front, Sen. Ruben Diaz Jr. Sr., didn’t join the other two dissidents in today’s vote. (H/t Zeitgeist9000.)

As much as this screws up not only the gay marriage push but also the state’s budget, this may have one silver lining: unless there’s going to be some sort of counter-push, Darrell Aubertine isn’t as desperately needed to stay in place, and he can jump into NY-23 with impunity.

UPDATE (David): It looks like gay marriage may have had nothing to do with this:

One person backing the revolt to put Republicans back in charge was Tom Golisano, the Rochester businessman and founder of Responsible New York, a political action committee that gave thousands of dollars to Senate Democrats last year to help them take control of the Senate, but who has become increasingly critical of the party. Mr. Golisano recently announced that he was moving his legal residence to Florida out of anger about the budget deal crafted in April by Democratic leaders in Albany, which included an increase in taxes on high earners.

Mr. Golisano played a role in negotiating original deal under which Mr. Espada and Mr. Monserrate – along with Mr. Díaz and Senator Carl Kruger of Brooklyn – gave their support to Mr. Smith. Steve Pigeon, his aide de camp, has been a frequent presence in Albany in recent weeks, and said Tuesday that Mr. Golisano felt betrayed by Mr. Smith because the Democratic leader had not delivered the overhaul of Senate rules he had promised upon taking power.

“He feels very strongly that he backed Malcolm Smith, and Smith didn’t keep his word, and didn’t make the changes he said he would,” Mr. Pigeon. “What you will see now is power-sharing, real reform.”

LATER UPDATE (David): Senate Dems seem to be saying this is all just a bad dream:


“This was an illegal and unlawful attempt to gain control of the Senate and reverse the will of the people who voted for a Democratic Majority.

Nothing has changed, Senator Malcolm A. Smith remains the duly elected Temporary President and Majority Leader.  The real Senate Majority is anxious to get back to governing, and will take immediate steps to get us back to work.”

ONE MORE UPDATE (David): In a new article, the NYT says that gay marriage had nothing to do with it:

Concern over a failure to adopt new Senate rules, coupled with anger over a tax increase included in the recently passed state budget deal, was said to have led to the switch.

New York Senate…Our Majority in Name Only

On Election Night, I stood by while State Senator-elect Joe Addabbo gave his acceptance speech. I turned to a girl I met that night who worked on his campaign and was close to Malcolm Smith, the incoming majority leader.

“Looks like we control the State Senate” I said

“No, not really.” she explained, “Only Joe and Brian Foley won.”

“But that’s 32 seats, that’s a majority.” I said

She only rolled her eyes at me and walked away.

We didn’t really win the New York State Senate. We won it in name only. In votes, we may be able to get through progressive economic policies, but thanks to socially conservative Democrats. Unfortunately, and I said this as someone who supported, worked for and donated to LGBT causes in New York, the LGBT community is going to find itself under a bus…again…and there’s nothing we can do about until 2010.

I knew Diaz would threaten to bolt in February when I was working for PBS. Malcolm Smith told one of our producers in June that he needed four or more wins in the State Senate for marriage equality. On Monday, I spoke with a friend of mine in Albany who tells me Smith only has 28 votes for marriage equality; No Republicans are on our side. Four Democrats also opposed. I dind’t get their names (though three names are obvious) but I was told they’re all from the city. Ironic, huh?

If we go into these districts in the Bronx and argue that we need Democrats who will vote with us on gay rights, we WILL lose. Trust me on this, I’ve been there. In 2007, I canvassed the neighborhood as part of a local LGBT activist community. The response I got in these heavily Democratic neighborhood was disgusting and scary (more than one young Democrat used the “f” word and there were threats of violence)

Don’t think this is an ethnicity thing either. When marriage equality came up for a vote in 2007, we lost Democrats in Italian-American communities in Brooklyn, Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and African-American communities in Brooklyn and Queens. Here too, constituencies do not tow the progressive line on gay rights.

Diaz and Esparada will probably vote with us on economic issues. They won’t survive in their districts if they don’t. That’s really more important right now.

They can be anti-gay and survive there.  

Malcolm Smith is a good man. I spoke with him thoroughly about marriage equality and he is a full-fledged supporter. I am willing to bet my bank account on it. If he knew he could get it through despite Diaz and Esparada, he would do it. Let’s face it, what would’ve been the response if Smith told Diaz and Esparada, “Nope, I’m bringing marriage equality to the floor” and they bolted for the GOP? Would we be hailing Smith as a hero? Or a moron for giving up our majority in the middle of an economic crisis for a bill that was never going to pass this session anyway?

How do we get around this? Well, for starters, we reach out to these Bronx communities and try to beat these thugs in primaries in 2010…but also, head upstate and out to Long Island and fight for progressives. We nearly picked up seats in Nassau County (Kristen McElroy) and another in Queens (Jim Gennaro) that would have made Diaz/Esparada’s bigotry moot. If we can elect a black man President of the United States, then by God we can elect a progressive Democrat to represent Rochester in the State Senate.

NY State Senate: Siena College Releases Final Round of Polls

The Siena College Research Institute has released a final batch of ten New York State Senate polls in the last few days. Here they are:

SD-03 (10/29-11/1, likely voters, 9/11-17 in parens):

Brian Foley (D): 56 (40)

Caesar Trunzo (R-inc): 34 (46)

(MoE: ±4.9)

SD-06 (10/29-11/1, likely voters, no trendlines):

Kristen McElroy (D): 30

Kemp Hannon (R-inc): 56

(MoE: ±4.8)

SD-07 (10/27-29, likely voters, 9/11-17 in parens):

Craig Johnson (D-inc): 50 (49)

Barbara Donno (R): 35 (25)

(MoE: ±4.8)

SD-15 (10/29-11/1, likely voters, 9/11-17 in parens):

Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D): 45 (42)

Serphin Maltese (R-inc): 43 (42)

(MoE: ±4.9)

SD-37: (10/27-29, likely voters, 9/30-10/05 in parens):

Suzi Oppenheimer (D-inc): 64 (61)

Liz Feld (R): 29 (24)

(MoE: ±4.8)

SD-48 (10/29-11/1, likely voters, 9/11-17 in parens):

Darrel Aubertine (D-inc): 49 (51)

David Renzi (R): 38 (31)

(MoE: ±4.6)

SD-56 (10/27-29, likely voters, 9/11-17 in parens):

Richard Dollinger (D): 39 (38)

Joe Robach (R-inc): 52 (49)

(MoE: ±4.6)

SD-58 (10/29-11/1, likely voters, 9/30-10/05 in parens):

William Stachowski (D-inc): 47 (36)

Dennis Delano (R): 43 (49)

(MoE: ±4.9)

SD-59 (10/27-29, likely voters, 9/30-10/5 in parens):

Kathy Konst (D): 39 (33)

Dale Volker (R-inc): 50 (50)

(MoE: ±4.9)

SD-61 (10/29-11/1, likely voters, 9/11-17 in parens):

Joseph Mesi (D): 42 (40)

Michael Ranzenhofer (R): 47 (38)

(MoE: ±4.9)

UPDATE by Crisitunity: If these predictions hold, this would see the Democrats picking up the New York State Senate by the barest majority, by gaining two seats (right now it’s 31-29 for the Republicans, with 2 vacancies which are split between the two parties and likely to remain that way). They would pick up the GOP seats of Caesar Trunzo in SD-03 in Long Island’s Suffolk County (who led Brian Foley by a decent margin in the last poll) and Serphin Maltese in SD-15 in Queens (who was tied with Joe Addabbo in the previous poll).

Much of rest of the action is in the Buffalo area: there’s at least one other possible pickup, SD-61, a Republican-held open seat where Joe Mesi led Michael Ranzenhofer previously but now trails by 5. Kathy Konst has made up a lot of ground in SD-59, but is still down by 11. The one seat where the Dems are engaged in a difficult defense is SD-58, where Dem incumbent William Stachowski was down by 13 against suspended Buffalo PD detective Dennis Delano, but now leads by 4. As you can see, there’s a lot of volatility, not just because we’re dealing with small sample sizes, but also the difficulty in general in polling state legislature races. But it looks like, after decades of futility, the Dems are in position to take over the New York state senate.

More New York State Senate Polls

Siena College (9/30-10/5, likely voters):


Suzi Oppenheimer (D-inc): 61

Liz Feld (R): 24

(MoE: ±4.9%)


David Nachbar (D): 21

James Alesi (R-inc): 62

(MoE: ±4.8%)


William Stachowski (D-inc): 36

Dennis Delano (R): 49

(MoE: ±4.6%)


Kathy Konst (D): 33

Dale Volker (R-inc): 50

(MoE: ±4.9%)

Siena has released a second batch of polls of contested New York Senate races. The first batch was a few weeks ago, and pointed to a likely Democratic pickup and another tied race, enough to flip control of the Senate to the Democrats (who are currently down 31-29 with 2 vacancies).

Unfortunately, this round of polling shows a fly in the ointment that wasn’t apparent before: incumbent Democrat William Stachowski from 55th District in Buffalo’s blue-collar suburbs (another long-term presence, in office since 1981) is trailing Dennis Delano, and by a substantial margin. (Delano, a Buffalo police detective, is apparently a local law enforcement celebrity.) If this seat goes down, the possibility of a tied Senate looms large.

Other polls in this race include two GOP-held upstate seats where the Democratic candidates (the highly-touted David Nachbar, and Kathy Konst, who bailed out of the NY-26 primary to run for state senate instead) have uphill climbs, and a seat in Westchester County where the Democratic incumbent looks to hang on easily. Several other closely contested races that are promising for the Dems (Padavan/Gennaro in SD-11 and Barber/Seward in SD-51) remain unpolled, so the quest to flip the New York state senate remains in limbo.

Dems Poised to Flip New York State Senate

Siena College (9/11-17, likely voters):


Brian Foley (D): 40

Caesar Trunzo (R-inc): 46

(MoE: ±4.9%)


Craig Johnson (D-inc): 49

Barbara Donno (R): 25

(MoE: ±4.9%)


Joseph Addabbo, Jr. (D): 42

Serphin Maltese (R-inc): 42

(MoE: ±4.9%)


Darrel Aubertine (D-inc): 51

David Renzi (R): 31

(MoE: ±4.7%)


Richard Dollinger (D): 38

Joseph Robach (R-inc): 49

(MoE: ±4.7%)


Joseph Mesi (D): 40

Michael Ranzenhofer (R): 38

(MoE: ±4.6%)

The New York Senate is the last bulwark for the Republicans in New York, and Democrats have steadily chipped away at it. Republicans currently have a 31-29 edge, with 2 vacancies (one of which was the seat held by Joe Bruno, GOP senate leader since time immemorial).

New polling by Siena of six of the most hotly contested Senate seats suggests that the Dems are poised to take over the chamber in 2008. First, assume that the two vacancies are retained by the Dems and GOP respectively (SD-13 is a safe Dem district in Queens; SD-43, Bruno’s old seat, is in GOP-leaning Albany suburbs, and not a sure bet to stay red, although it wasn’t polled). That would push the vote count to 32-30 in favor of the GOP.

However, these polls see Dem Joseph Mesi picking up SD-61 in the Buffalo suburbs, held by the retiring Republican Mary Lou Rath. Net result? 31-31. Ordinarily, the tie would be broken by the Lieutenant Governor… but New York doesn’t have one right now, as the post was left vacant when David Paterson succeeded Eliot Spitzer. So then who takes over? Short answer: no one knows.

But… Joseph Addabbo is tied with incumbent Republican Serphin Maltese in SD-15, a heavily Democratic area in Queens (the same poll also asked presidential preferences in each district, and Obama leads McCain 49-31 in the 15th). Maltese also might suffer from the recent arrest of Democratic Assemblyman (but key Maltese ally, whose Assembly district covers part of the 15th) Anthony Seminerio on federal corruption charges. This could be the tiebreaker.

The remaining polls show the two Democratic freshmen elected in mid-term, Craig Johnson and Darrel Aubertine, cruising to re-election, while threatened GOP incumbents Caesar Trunzo and Joe Robach are holding onto decent-size leads.

NY St. Sen.: Majority Leader Bruno (R) To Retire

Sudden bombshell out of Albany, New York: Joe Bruno, the longtime leader of the Republican delegation in the state senate, won’t stand for re-election. According to the New York Daily News:

It’s confirmed. A high-ranking Senate staffer said: “He will not run for re-election. It’s still open as to whether he will serve out the term until Dec. 31 or leave. early.”

For those not following state legislature races, control of the New York State Senate is the big enchilada this year. Each year we’ve chipped at it, edging closer to control (we’re currently down 32-30), and prognosticators have increasingly felt like this was the year it would flip, removing the main obstacle to implementing progressive policy in New York and placing 2010 redistricting control entirely in Democratic hands.

Apparently Bruno saw the handwriting on the wall (i.e. the remainder of his career spent in the minority) and decided this was a fine time to leave (although there’s also the small matter of his outside business interests being under FBI investigation). This may be the hole in the dam that bursts wide open; a number of other aging Republicans in Democratic-leaning areas (who are in their 70s or 80s, have been serving in the state senate since the 1970s, and have provided the margin for control) have stuck around largely because Bruno has corralled them, trying to maintain the majority. With him gone, look for a stampede for exits from other dinosaurs facing extinction like Frank Padavan and Caesar Trunzo.

Our candidate in SD-43 (in the Albany suburbs) is Brian Premo, although stronger challengers may emerge with Bruno out of the picture.

H/t RandySF.

NY Senate: Bruno Retiring?

When it comes to downballot races, it has been the New York State Senate that has held much of my attention this election year. And from the Albany Project’s Phillp Anderson  comes a report that Republican Majority Leader Joseph Bruno is making moves that may indicate an intent to retire this year rather than lead a likely minority in a state where the Republican Party will be mostly shut out at the federal and state levels.

Because today, the last day in the last regular legislative session that Bruno’s Republicans will control for a long, long time, brings us another odd clue that it may be Uncle Joe’s last hurrah as well. A few weeks ago we learned that the long neglected Senate Minority conference room received a rather extensive renovation, a move that some interpreted as a sign that the Republican majority in the Senate could see the writing on the wall and wanted to spruce up the joint while they still controlled the spending to do so. I’m also hearing quite a bit about some rather vicious infighting in Uncle Joe’s caucus and much of it appears to be generational in nature. The Republican majority in the New York State Senate is on the way out and they all know it. This seems to have some members, particularly the younger ones, fairly upset. Today we learn that one of Joe Bruno’s closest aides is being set up with a long term gig at a significant pay cut.

An experienced Dem hand in Albany spoke to me about the possibility of Bruno “taking a dive”, as he put it, last week. I’ll believe that when Bruno actually holds a press conference where he throws in the towel, not before, but the signs that he may be at least considering spending more time with his horses continue to mount.

I have been reading TAP since I discovered it in 2007 and there is probably no one in the New York blogosphere better connected to his state’s politics than he. Like Phillip, I will wait and see what the official word is, but retirement makes every bit of sense to me. Obama will win there big. We will likely pick up 3-4 of the remaining Congressional seat now held by Republicans. The Governor, both senate seats and the State Assembly are firmly in Democratic hands and the Senate is likely to flip. Furthermore, the once mighty New York Republican Party is now a mere shadow of the era Nelson Rockefeller, Jacob Javitz and Al D’Amato. The handwriting is on the wall. Maybe Joe will do the sensible thing and walk away.