National News

Democrats Take Numerical Edge in New York Senate

Posted April 24, 2018 11:42 p.m. EDT

In a special election in New York that was thought to hold the key to Democrats’ capturing the state Senate, Shelley B. Mayer, the Democratic candidate, sailed to victory in Westchester County on Tuesday, buoyed by a large turnout of progressive voters angered by the Trump presidency.

Mayer, a state assemblywoman from Yonkers, defeated her Republican challenger, Julie Killian, a deputy mayor of Rye, in the 37th District, which covers much of the eastern portion of the county. With 78 percent of districts counted, Mayer led Killian, 58 percent to 42 percent.

Her victory — coupled with another Democratic win in a special election in the 32nd Senate District in the Bronx — gave the Democrats a theoretical one-vote edge over the Republicans in the Senate, 32-31.

But theory gave way earlier Tuesday to Simcha Felder, a Democrat of Brooklyn who has caucused with Republicans.

Felder announced that he had decided to continue his relationship with Republicans, thus allowing the party to retain its Senate majority by one vote.

Both Democrats and Republicans had spent millions of dollars on the Westchester contest, airing hostile television ads, in an effort to win the seat, which was vacated in January by George Latimer, who won his bid for county executive. Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1 in the county, but Killian mounted an energetic campaign.

The importance of the race was underscored by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s involvement: He stumped for Mayer in Mamaroneck on Sunday morning to help get out the vote and was at her election watch party Tuesday night.

“All of us are part of something bigger, a movement for change, a blue wave rising in special election after special election,” Mayer said in a statement released after she declared victory. “This race was about finally bringing a Democratic majority to the state Senate so that New York can once again be a progressive leader.”

Progressive activists pledged to work even harder to unseat Republicans in the Senate this fall to give Democrats an unassailable edge.

“We are committed to flipping the IDC seats and, following that, flipping red seats to blue,” Lisa DellAquila, a leader of True Blue NY, a liberal activist group, said in a phone interview Tuesday, referring to the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of breakaway Democrats who have since reconciled with their party. “I am confident that we can really make an impact in those areas and create a solid Democratic majority.”

While campaigning feverishly to ensure that Mayer, 64, would conquer Killian, 57, in Westchester, Democrats had been less worried about the special election for state Senate in the South Bronx. In that race, Luis R. Sepúlveda, a Democratic assemblyman, handily won the 32nd District, dispatching his Republican rival, Patrick Delices, and a Reform Party candidate, Pamela Stewart-Martinez.

In addition, nine vacant Assembly seats, from Long Island to South Buffalo, were decided in the special election. But with Democrats in charge of the Assembly by huge margins, those outcomes would not change the balance of power there.