Despite Democratic wins in Senate special elections, Republicans retain majority control

Shelley Mayer, the senator-elect for District 37, is joined by her predecessor George Latimer, left, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, right, at a recent campaign stop. Photo courtesy of the Mayer for Senate facebook page.

Control of the state’s upper house will remain with Republicans until at least November, according to Sen. Simcha Felder, D-Brooklyn.

Though Democrats won Tuesday’s special elections in Senate Districts 32 and 37, giving them the electoral majority — 32 Democrats to 31 Republicans — Felder’s support of the Democratic party was required to establish a majority, something he said he would not do earlier in the day.

“Upheaval and court battles among partisans is not the preferred method of governing, nor is it in the best interest of my constituents or the people,” Felder said in a statement made before polls closed Tuesday night. “Therefore, regardless of which candidates prevail in today’s elections, I will continue to caucus with the majority coalition.”

District 37, which saw widespread attention and lots of speculation leading up to the election, went to the Democrats. Senator-Elect Shelley Mayer won by a margin of approximately 22 percent, earning 60.57 percent of votes in her district against Republican candidate Julie Killian, according to unofficial results released this morning by the Board of Elections.

In District 32, comprised of areas of the South Bronx, Democratic Senator-Elect Luis Sepúlveda won the office with 88.64 percent of the vote, according to the Board of Elections. In total, 3,168 voters turned out at the polls. Reform party candidate Pamela Stewart Martinez received the next highest percentage of votes with approximately 7 percent.

“I congratulate my friend and colleague, Senator-Elect Shelley Mayer, on her victory and look forward to welcoming her to the Senate Chamber as soon as possible,” said Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “Senator-Elect Luis Sepúlveda also won a resounding victory tonight and I look forward to him continuing his public service as a State Senator. These electoral wins are part of the ‘blue wave’ sweeping our state and nation which will help even more Senate Democratic candidates win in the upcoming General Election.”

Despite the “blue wave” of Democratic wins in the Senate special elections, Republicans still retain control of the Senate thanks to Felder.

Earlier this month, Felder, who conferences with Republicans, said he had no allegiances to political parties, only to his constituents and God.

Sen. Simcha Felder. Photo courtesy of the New York State Senate

Before polls closed Tuesday, Felder announced he would continue to conference with Republicans through the current legislative session regardless of the outcome of the yesterday’s special elections in order to avoid “turmoil” within the Senate.

In an interview with Spectrum news, with an official statement that followed, Felder said he has “obligation to prevent an unprecedented and uncertain late-session political battle that will only hurt my constituents and New Yorkers. Political gamesmanship must not be allowed to jeopardize the leadership, committee structure and staff of the New York State Senate and push this institution into turmoil.”

Felder’s imposed roadblock has not been taken lightly by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has his eyes set on a unified Democratic Senate.

“The governor’s position is clear: the Democrats must unify to take back the majority,” said Dani Lever, Cuomo’s press secretary. “This conversation will continue in the morning.”