Senate Dems: retiring Republicans see writing on the wall

Legislative Gazette photo by Melanie Zerah
(left to right) Sen. Luis Sepulveda, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, Sen. Shelley Mayer and Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins in the Senate Chamber following a brief swearing in ceremony.

As Senate Democrats swore in two new colleagues this week, at least five Republican senators have either announced, or have hinted at, retiring at the end of the year, leaving the chamber in play this November.

Republican senators Kathy Marchione, John DeFrancisco and John Bonacic have recently announced their plans to retire by the end of the year, while two other GOP lawmakers have said a decision on running for another term would be coming as early as this week.

The announcements are coming the same week that Luis Sepulveda, D-Bronx, and Sen. Shelley Mayer, D-Westchester, were sworn into the Senate following a special election on April 24.

“Clearly the Republicans see the writing on the wall,” said Senate Democratic Communications Director Mike Murphy. “Democrats have gained ten seats in two weeks, while three Senate Republicans have abandoned ship in just three days. And I am sure there are more to come.”

The spirits of New York Democrats are high as the possibility of flipping the Senate could become a reality if the state experiences a “blue wave” in the first midterm election since Donald Trump took office.

Candidates in District 50 have already announced plans to fight for DeFrancisco’s seat. Van Buren Town Councilman Rick Zaccaria, a Republican, announced his candidacy as did Democrat John Mannion, a high-school biology teacher. According to the Board of Elections, the district has 66,457 registered Democratic voters and 66,139 registered Republican voters. There are 52,980 independent voters in the district.

Currently represented by Bonacic, District 42 is home to 70,720 total Democratic voters and 57,297 total Republican voters.

The 43rd District represented by Marchione is more equally divided, with 62,339 total Democratic voters and 67,676 total Republican voters. There are 57,592 independent voters there.

Until November, the Republicans will retain the Senate majority because Sen. Simcha Felder, a Brooklyn Democrat, conferences and votes with the Republicans.

The Senate Republican leader, John Flanagan, is assuring his conference they can hold on to the upper house.

“I am confident that our Republican majority will field excellent candidates in each of these districts, which have all been represented by Republicans for many many years,” Flanagan said. “New Yorkers know that our majority is the only thing standing in the way of the New York City politicians implementing an agenda that will hurt our economy and make life more difficult for hardworking middle-class taxpayers. We will succeed in November and maintain our majority so the true priorities of New Yorkers continue to be put first.”

Despite Flanagan’s reassurance, The New York Post recently reported that both Sen. Tom Croci, R-Long Island, and Sen. Bill Larkin, R-New Windsor, are hinting they might also be stepping down after this term.