Republicans on Saturday regained control of New York’s Senate beginning in January after a judge certified that a Long Island Republican won a key seat in a recount of the Nov. 2 election.
The action would give Republicans dominated by suburban and upstate members their only power base in a state where Democrats, dominated by New York City members, control every statewide position and the Assembly.
Immediately afterward, Democratic Sen. Craig Johnson announced he would appeal the decision, although the judge on Saturday refused to grant a stay to delay the effect of his decision because of any appeal.
The final vote tally gave Republican Jack Martins a narrow win over Johnson in the 7th Senate District in Nassau County.
Democrats went into the November elections with a 32-30 majority in the chamber. Now it appears Republicans will have at least a two-seat majority in January for the upcoming two-year session, pending any further legal action by Democrats.
Democrats have controlled the Senate for two tumultuous years that included a Republican-backed coup and gridlocking partisanship.
Justice Ira Warshawsky certified that Martins won by 451 votes of the tens of thousands of votes cast. An application by Democrats for a stay to delay enactment of the decision pending an appeal to the state Appellate Division was denied, said Dan Bagnuola, spokesman for the Nassau County court system.
The judge had other options, including another review of paper ballots.
The just also set a Tuesday hearing to determine whether an audit of the count could still be required, according to the Democratic conference, which will continue to review other options in court.
“There’s important work to be done in Albany, and now that the elections are over we’re eager to get right to it,” said Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos of Nassau County.
Skelos added that the GOP is prepared to work with Democratic Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo to address the state’s economic challenges, “including the need to reduce spending to balance the budget, provide relief to struggling taxpayers and help the private sector create jobs.”
The decision means that the expected Republican majority will hold even if Democrats win the sole remaining recount in Westchester County. The Assembly will retain its Democratic majority.
“The judge’s decision to deny a recount is wrong on the letter and 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 percent, the failure to count every vote is a disservice to every voter.”
Democrats have noted new voting machines used in November have shown problems in several areas of the state.
“The judge set a dangerous precedent that could lead to the disenfranchisement of New Yorkers,” Shafran said.
Last week, Democratic Sen. Antoine Thompson of Buffalo conceded his race that was in the midst of a recount, putting Republicans within one race of reclaiming the majority. Republican Mark J. Grisanti will represent the 60th district in January, replacing Thompson in that Buffalo district.
A recount continues in the Westchester district now represented by Democratic Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer. She is up about 300 votes over Republican Bob Cohen. Democrats would have needed Oppenheimer’s seat and one other seat to create a 31-31 tie, which potentially could have given Democrats majority control because the lieutenant governor, Democrat Bob Duffy, will be able to break at least some deadlocked votes.
Democrats hold a nearly 2:1 enrollment advantage in New York, but Republicans focused resources on key races, including Johnson’s, to try to portray Democrats as responsible for high taxes, corruption and dysfunction in the chamber over the last two years.
There was no immediate comment from Cuomo, who mostly stayed out of the Senate fight.
ByMICHAEL GORMLEY,Associated Press
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.