Senate Democrats Make Strides In Special Elections

On Tuesday, April 24, 11 special elections were held across New York to fill vacant seats in our State Legislature. The results of those elections will not affect the balance of power in the New York State Assembly, which currently includes 105 Members of the Democratic Conference and 41 Members of the Republican Conference. However, two special election victories gave Democrats a numerical majority of 32 to 31 in the State Senate.

Last week’s highest-profile election was held in Westchester County’s Senate District 37. This seat became vacant when Democratic Sen. George Latimer resigned his seat to take office as Westchester County Executive. Asm. Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers) faced off against former City of Rye Councilwoman Julie Killian, a Republican who had previously run for the seat in 2016. Asm. Mayer defeated Killian by a margin of 57% to 43%. In addition, Asm. Luis Sepulveda won 88% of the vote in Senate District 32 (a Bronx district that was vacated by Sen. Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr., D-Bronx, following his election to the New York City Council). Incoming Sens. Mayer and Sepulveda were sworn in as Members of the New York State Senate on Monday, April 30.

While many Democrats hoped that these election results would yield control of the State Senate to their party, those hopes have not come to fruition; Sen. Simcha Felder—a socially conservative Democrat from Brooklyn who has caucused with Senate Republicans throughout his entire Senate career—has announced that he intends to remain with the Republicans during the remainder of the 2018 session. (For his part, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is placing public pressure on Sen. Felder to shift his affiliation to the Senate Democratic Conference.)

Here are the results of the nine Assembly contests that took place on April 24:

Assembly District 5 (Suffolk County, Long Island) (previously represented by Republican Asm. Al Graf): Republican Doug Smith, a former staffer to Asm. Al Graf, defeated Democrat Deb Slinkosky, 63%-37%.

Assembly District 10 (Suffolk County, Long Island) (previously represented by Republican Asm. Chad Lupinacci): Democratic attorney and former Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern defeated Republican Janet Smitelli, 59%-41%.

Assembly District 17 (Nassau County, Long Island) (previously represented by Republican Asm. Tom McKevitt): Republican John Mikulin, who previously served as Deputy Hempstead Town Attorney, defeated Democrat Matthew Malin, 63%-36%.

Assembly District 39 (Queens) (previously represented by Democratic Asm. Francisco Moya): Democrat Ari Espinal won this seat without opposition.

Assembly District 74 (Manhattan) (previously represented by Democratic Asm. Brian Kavanagh): Democrat Harvey Epstein won this seat with 90% of the vote.

Assembly District 80 (Bronx) (previously represented by Democratic Asm. Mark Gjonaj): Democrat Nathalia Fernandez won this race with 81% of the vote.

Assembly District 102 (Catskills) (previously represented by Republican Asm. Pete Lopez): This race pitted Republican Schoharie Town Supervisor Christopher Tague against Democratic Greene County Legislator Aidan O’Connor Jr. At this writing, the race remains too close to call; unofficial results indicate that Tague has received 8,547 votes to O’Connor’s 8,259.

Assembly District 107 (Capital District) (previously represented by Republican Asm. Steve McLaughlin): Republican Rensselaer County Legislator Jake Ashby narrowly defeated Democratic Rensselaer County Legislator Cynthia Doran, 51%-49%.

Assembly District 142 (Western New York) (previously represented by Democratic Asm. Mickey Kearns): In an unusual race, two enrolled Democrats—special education teacher Erik Bohen and Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke—faced off against each other. While Legislator Burke—an outspoken supporter of Counselor Coercion legislation—received the endorsement of his own party, Bohen was endorsed by the Republican and Conservative Parties. Bohen defeated Burke, 52%-48%.