What’s at stake in next Tuesday’s election is huge for New York: a new governor, for sure, and possibly a radical shift in the balance of power in Albany.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, won’t lose his prestigious title but his clout in the capital could be severely curbed if his current veto-proof majority falls by the wayside, as some predict it will.
For Democrats in the State Senate it’s even bleaker. Right now they hold control by a two-vote margin. Republican Minority Leader Dean Skelos, Long Island’s own, had two brief runs as majority leader himself before the Democrats took over in 2008 and again in June 2009 when he pulled off a coup by temporarily getting Democrats Hiram Monserrate of Queens and Pedro Espada, Jr., of the Bronx to support him. Skelos’ stunning move made Espada the Senate president, putting him in line to be acting governor whenever Gov. David Paterson left the state. (Paterson wisely stayed put.) Both turncoats are gone for good: Espada, under federal investigation for corruption, lost a primary in September; and Monserrate, who was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend, was expelled from the Senate in February. He is now facing federal corruption charges, too.
But Skelos won’t need guys like them to take over the State Senate, if things go his way next week. Some political insiders predict the Rockville Centre Republican could end up with 35 senators on his side. One Democrat reportedly fighting for his political life is Sen. Brian Foley of Suffolk; in Nassau, Sen. Craig Johnson, who became the first Democrat in a century to take that seat, is battling tooth and nail with Mineola Mayor Jack Martins. The big knock against both Foley and Johnson is their votes to pass the much-loathed Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Mobility Tax, which did not go over well with suburbanites far from the subways. Whether voters will derail them for trying to get the MTA back on track remains to be seen. But it’s an issue that promises not to go away, no matter who’s governor and which party controls Albany.
Don’t forget our other elections 2010 coverage: The Attorney General race between Eric Schneiderman and Dan Donovan, seven-way New York State Governor race, and battle between Thomas DiNapoli and Harry Wilson for New York State Comptroller, as well as an overview of what congressional races are worth watching.