Those who follow state politics have lots to focus on heading into next week’s general election. Democrats are hoping to pick up several seats in New York State to wittle down the 30 seat national advantage of Republicans in the House. There are many hotly contested races for Congress in the state with the one between Democrat Zephyr Teachout and Republican John Faso drawing the most money and attention. A new poll today shows Teachout leading by 3% to fill the seat of retiring Republican Chris Gibson. The seat had been previously held by Democrats Scott Murphy and Kirsten Gillibrand, though it was slightly altered in 2010 re-districting. It stretches from the eastern part of the state along the Hudson River out toward Cooperstown. Another big race is to succeed the retiring Republican Richard Hanna in central New York. Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney is the Republican candidate and leads in the polls against Democrat Kim Myers and a third party candidate. Former Army officer Mike Derrick, a Democrat, is facing Republican incumbent Elise Stefanik and Green candidate Matt Funicello in the North Country. There are a few big races on Long Island with Republican State Senator Jack Martins taking on former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi who has led in the polls.
Control of the New York State Senate is again up for grabs and the results of who will be in control will again depend on which way the Independent Democrat Caucus goes. Senator Jeff Klein, the leader of that caucus, has often worked with Republicans to run the chamber. The independent caucus might actually grow in numbers after the election with some candidates saying they will join it if they win. Governor Andrew Cuomo has finally begun to aggressively campaign for Democratic control. His past efforts were often criticized for not being enthusiastic enough about winning the chamber back for his party.
Albany lobbyists in the health field are watching the race between longtime Republican Senator Kemp Hannon, chair of the Health Committee, and Democrat Ryan Cronin who lost to Hannon four years ago by a small margin. Hannon has the support of many hospital leaders and workers. Democrats are hoping to win not only Hannon’s seat on Long Island but are aggressively challenging others including first term incumbent Michael Venditto who won the seat vacated by Charles Fuschillo when he became head of the Alzheimers Foundation of America. A scandal on Long Island that led to the arrest of Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano in October is putting Republicans are on the defensive, coming less than a year after the conviction of former Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos of Long Island.
Upstate, Democrat Terry Gipson is trying to win back his seat in the Hudson Valley that he lost to Senator Sue Serrino two years ago. Assemblyman James Tedisco is trying to win the seat of retiring Senator Hugh Farley. Sara Niccoli is trying to unseat Republican George Amedore in a district to the west and south of Albany. These are among several other races upstate that are being hotly contested.
If the mainline and independent Democrats win an outright majority, and they only need one new seat to do that, they will be under great pressure to unite and take control of the chamber.