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Democrats Take Control Of State Senate

Sen. David Carlucci signing in Tuesday at his polling place in West Nyack. Photo Credit: Provided
Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Yonkers is expected to become the first woman selected as state Senate Majority Leader. Photo Credit: Submitted
Campaign signs like this were scattered throughout the crucial 40th Senate District. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
A campaign ad for state Sen. Sue Serino of Hyde Park who represents Putnam and Dutchess counties. Serino, a Republican, was re-elected on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
A campaign ad for state Sen. Sue Serino of Hyde Park who represents Putnam and Dutchess counties. Serino, a Republican, was re-elected on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Video Credit: NYS Senate Republican Campaign Committee

This story has been updated.

New York Democrats took control of the state Senate on Tuesday, promising to push a progressive agenda that the GOP majority blocked for years.

Early returns from the state Board of Elections showed that Democrats captured at least 32 of the Senate's 63 seats.

Democrats managed to pull six key Sept. 13 primary upsets in the state Senate, as reported here by Daily Voice .

State Senate wins by Democrats also likely makes Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Yonkers the first black woman to lead a state legislative majority conference in New York history.

Stewart-Cousins said, "The voters of New York State have spoken and they have elected a clear Democratic majority to the State Senate. While the results of some elections are still being determined, at least 32 Senate Democratic Conference members have already won election tonight."

The Hudson Valley and Catskills played a pivotal role because the retirements of Republican Sens. John Bonacic and Bill Larkin created two open seats in the GOP-led Senate.

Among the area incumbents seeking re-election were state Sens. Terrence Murphy of Westchester, a Yorktown Republican, and David Carlucci of Rockland, a New City Democrat.

Earlier Daily Voice coverage of Murphy's challenge by Democrat Peter Harckham of South Salem can be found by clicking here.

As of midnight, the 40th District Senate race remained close with Harckham leading by  51,299 to 47,714 unofficial votes over Murphy.

Nonetheless, Harckham issued this statement late Tuesday anticipating victory: "Thank you to everyone! This is your win! I am honored to have earned the support of voters throughout this district with an overwhelming turnout. . . . I have spoken with Senator Murphy to thank him for his service and look forward to a smooth and professional transition. In Albany I will work hard to represent everybody, not just those who voted for me. I will be accountable for the words I say, the tone I set and the tenor of the work our office does in the community. We have an ambitious legislative agenda to pass in the first 30 days of 2019, including the Reproductive Health Act, Child Victims Act and Red Flag Bill."

Bonacic and Larkin's adjoining districts -- the 39th and the 42nd -- were among 12 Senate races in New York state seen as competitive. Those two, along with Murphy and Carlucci's seats, could determine party control of the 63-member Senate, which Republicans have led for 48 of the past 50 years and now control by a single seat.

Democrats taking control of the state Senate removes an obstacle to a slew of bills Republicans have blocked, including proposals to allow early voting, codify abortion rights, close loopholes in campaign finance limits and enable people who were sexually abused as children to sue their alleged abusers and institutions.

Republicans argued that a Senate Democratic majority would advance a liberal agenda and maintain the tax-and-spend climate, while favoring constituents in the New York metropolitan area over Upstate.

Republican Tom Basile, 42 of Stony Point in Rockland County was trailing Democrat James Skoufis, 30, of Woodbury in Orange County for Larkin's vacated 39th District seat, according to early unofficial results.

Three-term Assemblyman Skoufis said the leading complaint from constituents in his Assembly District is problems with health insurers. Meanwhile, no one complains about the government-run Medicare coverage, he said.

Seeking Sen. Bonacic's vacated 42nd District seat were Orange County Clerk Annie Rabbitt, 57, a Republican from Greenwood Lake and Democrat Jen Metzger, 53 of Rosendale. Metzger, director of Citizens for Local Power, was leading on Tuesday night, according to early unofficial results.

Metzger supports the Reproductive Health Act and the Child Victims Act as well as creating an independent ethics commission.

Metzger also thinks that skyrocketing health-care costs must be addressed by state lawmakers.

Rabbitt, a former Assembly member, is an advocate of Second Amendment rights for gun owners, saying New York's law are becoming overly restrictive. Rabbitt said helping Republicans retain their Senate majority motivated her to seek election on Tuesday.

Republicans were hoping for upsets over Carlucci, whose seat includes parts of Westchester and Rockland counties, as well as a Long Island seat held by first-term Sen. John Brooks, a Democrat.

Former Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef challenged Carlucci. Vanderhoef lost a race against Carlucci in 2010 as well as a race for a school board seat last year.

State Sen. Sue Serino, a Republican from Hyde Park, defeated her Democratic challenger, Karen Smythe. Serino's 41st Senate District includes Putnam and part of Dutchess County.

Stewart-Cousins was unopposed in the 35th Senate District on Tuesday.  On the campaign trail, Stewart-Cousins joked that it is time that voters finally end the "three men in the room" stronghold in Albany -- referring to closed-door negotiations between the governor, Assembly speaker and Senate leader, all males.

Democratic Sen. Shelley Mayer of Yonkers ran unopposed in the 37th District. She won a special election for the seat on April 24, replacing George Latimer after he was elected Westchester County executive a year ago.

The 37th Senate District includes the cities of Yonkers, White Plains, New Rochelle and Rye; the Towns of Bedford, Eastchester, Harrison, Mamaroneck, North Castle, and Rye; and the Villages of Bronxville, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Port Chester Rye Brook, and Tuckahoe.

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