ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) — Mark Grisanti's victory was critical to Republican control of the State Senate a couple of years ago. But this year, the balance of power depends on other close races.
Democrats are claiming they've picked up enough seats to take back control of the New York State Senate. Before Tuesday's elections, Republicans held 33 seats, Democrats 29. As of Wednesday evening, the new balance was 31 Democrats, 30 Republicans.
But there are three "wild cards" that may prevent them from cobbling together a solid, 32-member majority.
News 4 Political Insider Len Lenihan said, "One, they have a separate conference called the Independent Democratic Conference, comprised of four legislators. And they caucus by themselves; they're not part of the Democratic conference right now. There are two races where there are absenteee ballots still being counted; one of them is very close. Both of those have to break the way of the Democrats for them to be part of a potential majority. And then you have a third case in Brooklyn, where a Senator named Felder just got elected. But he has not committed to either side."
"The irony here is that most of the pundits were suggesting that the Grisanti race would be the pivotal race that would determine whether or not the Republicans would maintain control of the Senate, or if the Democrats wrested control from the Republicans. It turned out to be not the case," added News 4 Political Insider Joel Giambra.
It's a virtually unheard-of scenario: both parties have a shot at power.
Giambra noted, "The speculation that - I think - that's the most accurate is that there'll be some sort of fusion leadership coalition. I think this is all very good for the customer, the taxpayer. In that, if you have a fusion leadership, where you have Democrats and Republicans coming together, coalescing to form the leadership, that may bode well when it comes to issues, and being able to develop cross-party-lines support."
No matter how the chips fall, WNY is in a pretty good position, for two reasons. Our Senators generally agree on major issues - one example is UB 2020 - regardless of their affiliation. And also, Governor Andrew Cuomo has taken a keen interest in this part of the state.
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