By Sabina Mollot
New York voters kept power in the hands of the State Senate’s Republicans on Tuesday with the Republicans winning a a 32-31 majority. Additionally, a Democrat who has caucused with Republicans, Simcha Felder, may continue to do so, City & State reported, which would solidify Republicans’ position to 33 in the 63-seat chamber.
As a result, State Senator Brad Hoylman said he suspects that any hope of strengthening the rent laws as well as passing other Democrat legislation will now be up to the Assembly and the governor.
“You’re not going to have Senate Democrats being able to exact much leverage,” he said. But, he added, of course he is still going to try to get the rent laws strengthened when they’re up for renewal in 2015. “We have to keep trying,” Hoylman said. “There is no alternative.”
Hoylman, who was reelected with over 85 percent of the vote in an inactive campaign, said that he thought the more closely contested state races were affected by nation-wide trends as well as a lot of real estate and hedge fund money being poured into the coffers of candidates in those races. One million dollars was spent on TV ads this weekend alone, he noted, from supporters of charter schools. This “seemed to have made the difference in the Wagner and Gipson races,” he said. Justin Wagner and Terry Gipson were upstate Democratic candidates who lost to Republicans Terrence Murphy and Sue Serino, respectively. Another upstate Democrat, CeCe Tkaczyk, who’d won with a mere 18 votes last time, lost her seat on Tuesday.
“The amount of money that’s been spent was unexpected and unprecedented,” Hoylman added. “This is a terrific example of why we need campaign finance reform.” Previously, it appeared as though Democrats control of the State Senate following the election would be likely, with a plan by a breakaway group of Democrats who’d been caucusing with Republicans, to once again ally with more mainline Democrats. The plan, announced in June, had been cheered by Governor Cuomo.
On the turn of events, Hoylman said he wasn’t going to blame anyone.
“It’s up to Senate Democrats to win their own races,” he said. “You can’t rely on the governor or the mayor to win our local districts. I’m not pointing fingers the day after on who’s responsible.” He added, “I’m sure there’ll be a lot of finger pointing in the weeks and months to come.”