Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Republicans Poised to Take Control of NY State Senate

We started the week off with mixed news on those still contested races for New York's Senate. For those who have not been following this story, a quick recap:

More than a month after election day, there were three districts in which the vote count was still too close to call. The results of those three races will determine which party, Republicans or Democrats, will be the majority party and control the Senate. Besides the major issues at stake for the state's LGBT populace, which include marriage equality and public rent subsidies for HIV patients, this year the notoriously dysfunctional state Senate will be asked to pass major campaign reforms. Also of critical importance will be redistricting questions which will affect the state's elections for years to come.

Last week, Sen. Antoine Thompson (D) conceded to Mark J. Grisanti, giving the 60th District to the GOP. "I thank the residents of the 60th Senatorial District for allowing me to serve them for four years - a duty that I took very seriously and an experience for which I am extremely grateful. I thank the many community partners who I've had the pleasure of working with side-by-side for a better 60th District. Together, we accomplished monumental successes in the areas of economic development, education and the environment," Thompson said in a prepared statement.

Bob Cohen                      Photo credit: BobCohen2010.com
Yesterday, Rob Cohen (R) conceded defeat to incumbent Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer in the 37th District. "Although other people have suggested that I push for a hand re-count, I do not believe that is in the best interest of the taxpayers of Westchester County," Cohen said from his campaign headquarters in White Plains. "I think the cost of that would be prohibitive and I don't think the outcome would be any different... It was literally within less than half of one percent of the 90,000 voters in this district that determined this race. Whenever they say your vote doesn't count it's not true, your vote does count. Every vote counts and in this election every vote was counted and I appreciate that."

Suzi Oppenheimer                Photo credit: NY State Senate
"After a long and hard fought campaign and a deliberate counting of the votes, it is my honor to once again have the privilege of representing the people of Westchester in the state Senate," Oppenheimer said in a statement. "It is particularly gratifying in a year where I faced a very well-financed opponent. I want to thank my many supporters, volunteers and constituents for their hard work and faith in me, without whom this victory would not be possible."

Which leaves it all up to one race to determine which party will control the Senate. On Saturday, Judge Ira B. Warshawsky in Nassau County rejected a hand recount in the state's 7th District, declaring Jack Martins (R) the winner over the incumbent, Sen. Craig M. Johnson (D), by a margin of 451 votes. Justice Warshawsky ruled that there was insufficient evidence to show that Johnson could win in a hand recount of all 85,000 ballots.

"The judge's decision to deny a recount is wrong on the letter and the spirit of the law, said Austin Shafran, spokesman for the Senate's democratic conference. "In a race where the margin is less than half of 1%, the failure to count every vote is a disservice to every voter... The judge set a dangerous precedent that could lead to the disenfranchisement of New York voters."

Yesterday, Johnson's attorney filed an appeal of the decision. "Frankly, this is bigger than me, bigger than Jack Martins, and bigger than who controls the state Senate," Johnson said in a prepared statement. "This is about preserving the principal of one man, one vote that our government was founded upon."

"We are optimistic that justice will be served on appeal," attorney Steven Schlesinger said.

Sen. Johnson was one of the supporters of the marriage equality bill last year: 

The appeal was heard today. As of this posting, no ruling has been made in the case. I will post the results as soon as they are available.

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