On Election Day 2012, all of New York’s State legislators, Congressional members, and one U.S. Senator were up for election. Making the election particularly interesting was that 2012 was a redistricting year and that the Republicans held a slim majority in the State Senate, despite that statewide voter enrollment favored Democrats two to one. Additionally, several State legislators opted to retire after the 2012 session, at least in part due to the redistricting process, resulting in multiple open races. Furthermore, there were several Primary Election upsets in both the Senate and the Assembly. Making the outcome of the election even more difficult to predict was that just eight days prior to the elections, New York City, Long Island, and Westchester were hit by one of the worst storms in history. A week after super-storm Sandy, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers remained without power and many were displaced from their homes. Fearing that New Yorkers would be disenfranchised, on the eve of the Election, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order to temporarily waive certain provisions of the Election Law and allow any affected resident to vote via an affidavit ballot.
In short, as of November 7, the control of the State Senate remains very much in question. It appears that there will be at least 32 elected Democrats in the State Senate. The Senate Republicans lost two seats, and the race for the newly created Senate district remains too close to call (before counting absentee ballots, Democrat Cecelia Tkaczyk is leading by a thin margin of 138 votes). The control of the Assembly, however, remains constant, as the Democrats in that house continue to grow their majority.
The Executive Branch
No members of the Executive Branch — the Governor, the Attorney General or the Comptroller — were up for election this cycle. All will be up for re-election in 2014.
The Legislative Branch
State Senate (Results as of November 7, 2012: 30 R, 32 D, 1 Undetermined)
By the end of the 2011-2012 legislative session, the Senate Republicans held a slim, but very disciplined 33-29 majority. Of the 29 Democrats, four caucused separately in an Independent Democratic Conference. At least in part due to the redistricting process used, the Republicans were generally expected to protect their majority on Election Day. Polls conducted during the final weeks of the election, however, showed that the Democrats could have the opportunity to retake the majority. In the hours following the polls closing the control of the Senate majority remained in the balance, and at least one election remains too close to call.
It appears that the Republicans have lost two seats -- long time Senator Steve Saland is down by approximately 1,600 votes before the absentee ballots are counted, and former-Senator Jim Alesi, who opted not to run for re-election, will be succeeded by Monroe County Legislator Democrat Ted O’Brien. What complicates things further is that Simcha Felder, the new Senator from Brooklyn, reportedly will caucus with whichever party can do the most for his district, despite being elected on the Democratic line. Furthermore, the plans for the Independent Democratic Conference of 4 senators remain unknown, although Senator Klein has reportedly said that he would not affirmatively vote for a Republican as majority leader.
The complete outcomes are listed below, but heading into Election Day, the focus was on 5 - 8 major State Senate races:
- SD 4 - This district was an open seat where Republican Assemblyman Philip Boyle faced Democratic Suffolk County Legislator Ricardo Montano. The seat had been held by the same Republican for almost four decades — Senator Owen Johnson. Senator Johnson announced in late summer that despite previous intentions, he would not be running for re-election. It was expected that the Republicans would retain this seat. Boyle ultimately won this race, keeping this seat for the Republicans.
- SD 15 - This district is in a relatively moderate to conservative leaning area of Queens, and happened to be one of the areas hardest hit by the Storm. The three-term incumbent, Democrat Joseph Addabbo, Jr., was challenged by a young City Councilman, Republican Eric Ulrich. A poll released in early October showed these two candidates were in a statistical dead heat, with 45% of likely voters indicating they would vote for Addabbo, and 43% supporting Ulrich. The extremely popular Governor Andrew Cuomo — who was generally staying out of controversial races — endorsed Senator Addabbo, at least in part due to the Senator’s support of the same-sex marriage legislation that passed in 2011. Senator Addabbo appears to have won approximately 60% of the vote.
- SD 37 - This Westchester district was another open seat. Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (D) retired after nearly thirty years of representing this area. New Rochelle businessman, Bob Cohen (R), who Oppenheimer narrowly defeated by a mere 730 votes in 2012, ran against Democratic Assemblyman George Latimer. In the weeks prior to the election, Cohen and Latimer were also in a statistical dead heat, with 44% supporting Assemblyman Latimer and 41% supporting Cohen. Latimer ultimately kept this seat for the Democratic Conference.
- SD 46 – One of the biggest potentials for an upset was in the newly added district located in the Hudson Valley. This sixty-third seat was often characterized in the media as being drawn to heavily benefit the Republican candidate, State Assemblyman George Amedore of Schenectady. A poll released four days before Election Day, however, had Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk down by only 3 points, with 9% undecided. With all Election Districts reporting, Ms. Tkacyzk is leading by approximately 140 votes. The outcome of this race will end up being decided by counting paper ballots.
- SD 55 - This was another open race, after the 16 year incumbent Republican Senator James Alesi — one of the four Republican Senators who supported the same-sex marriage legislation — announced that he would not seek reelection. Republican Assemblyman Sean Hanna faced the Democratic Minority Leader of the Monroe County Legislature, Ted O’Brien. Late polls surprised pundits, showing that O’Brien, who initially was down approximately 8 points, was leading the Republican candidate by more than 10 points. O’Brien ultimately won this race with 52% of the vote.
- SD 60 - One of the other Republican Senators to support the marriage equality legislation, current Chair of the Environmental Committee, Senator Mark Gristani, was challenged by local attorney, Mark Amodeo. Grisanti defeated the then-Democratic incumbent Senator Antoine Thompson by just 527 votes in 2010. Originally thought to be one of the weaker incumbents, Grisanti was polling a solid 24% points ahead of his main challenger, in a crowded ballot with his opposition split among three candidates. Gristanti successfully defended his seat, winning 50% of the vote, despite this being a multi-way race.
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State Assembly (Results as of November 7, 2012: 43 R, 106 D, 1 Undetermined)
The 150 member New York State Assembly is heavily controlled by the Democratic conference. At the end of the 2012 session, 100 of those seats were held by Democrats, 49 were Republicans, and there was one Independent. Although there were several open seats and a scandal in the late summer that resulted in a senior Assemblymember being stripped of his committee chairmanship, the Democrats will continue to hold a significant majority of the Assembly. In fact, the Democrats have gained at least five additional seats. The results are as follows:
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