By CYRIL JOSH BARKER and STEPHON JOHNSON: Amsterdam News Staff
While most political pundits have been focusing on the federal elections and whether or not the Democrats can retain both the House and the Senate, New York State politics are also heating up.
Statewide, there are battles for the governor’s mansion, attorney general and state comptroller. And the Democrats would like to increase their slim, two-seat majority in the State Senate, and the Republicans want to take back the body they controlled for more than 40 years.
The stakes are high.
Election Day 2010 may shape the next decade-plus of city and state politics for better or worse. The AmNews highlighted some of the more important races and what they mean to our communities in New York City and throughout the state.
KEY SENATE RACES
Because of the fear of less diversity in Albany, it’s important that the Democrats maintain power in the State Senate. All 62 State Senate seats are up for grabs, with the Republicans hoping to regain the majority. If a Republican is elected governor, the party needs to gain only one seat in the Senate. If a Democrat is elected governor, the Republicans would need two seats for a majority—assuming that the lieutenant governor would break the tie during votes.
Some key races in the Senate include Kemp Hannon, a Republican, battling Democrat Dave Mejias for the District 6 seat, which spreads from Garden City to Farmingdale. Hannon has held this seat since 1989 but dodged a bullet in 2008 when he edged out newcomer Kristen M. McElroy by 4 percentage points (52 percent to 48 percent on Election Day 2008).
Charlie Ramos, a former liaison to former City Comptroller Bill Thompson, is challenging Ruben Diaz Sr. for the 32nd District State Senate seat in the Bronx. Diaz has been a difficult partner for his Democratic colleagues. At times, he has sided with sometimes renegade State Sen. Pedro Espada, and he has come out publicly against gay marriage, catching the ire of gay rights’ groups. Ramos was recently endorsed by the Empire State Pride Agenda, a local Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) organization.
Juan Gustavo Rivera, a political aide who worked for senatorial and presidential campaigns for Kirsten Gillibrand and Barack Obama respectively, will challenge the controversial Espada for his Senate seat in the 33rd District. The state Democratic Party started to move on potentially ousting Espada from the ranks earlier this month. Espada is under investigation for allegedly using public money for personal-political business when he channeled finances to the Soundview Healthcare Network, a non-profit organization in Espada’s district that he owns. Espada believes that the Democratic Party’s actions are being steered by Cuomo as he asserts his power early.
Malcolm Smith mentioned a State Senate race in Long Island between Democrat Brian
Foley and Republican Lee Zeldin. It’s one of the seats the Republicans need to regain if
they are going to have any realistic hope of regaining a majority in the State Senate.