ALBANY – It looks like republicans will maintain control in the state senate when the new term begins next January. The Albany Times-Union is reporting this week that a Brooklyn Democrat announced that he would caucus with the GOP. The announcement was made Monday by Simcha Felder, an Orthodox Jew who met with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Long Island) at the start of this week. Felder’s addition to the brings the GOP conference just one person shy of the 32 votes it needs to dominate what will be a 63-seat chamber.
Republicans are now pinning their hopes on Assemblyman George Amedore’s race against Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk in the 46th District in the Albany area. Amedore trailed Tkaczyk by just 139 votes on election night. Elections officials in the five-county district began a recanvass of voting machines on Tuesday, which yielded no changes after a review in Albany and Schenectady counties. Residents in that district will now have to wait until the counting of absentee ballots, which will begin next week.
Regardless of the outcome of the race in the 46th state senate district, Chautauqua County’s representative in the state Assembly – Andy Goodell (R-Jamestown) – says it’s unlikely the democrats will take control of the Senate because of a handful of rogue democrats in the Senate who often side with the GOP.
“Even if it switches over to Democrat control in terms of total numbers, for the last two years there has been an independent coalition of democrats – four democrats – that often would work with the republicans on fiscal matters and things like that,” Goodell explained. “So it is possible you may end up with coalition government with republicans and this independent group of democrats. It’s hard say. In any event, it’s going to be very close. The republicans will either have one vote up or one vote down.”
The outcome of which party will control the Senate is being closely watched because it will also determine who will be part of the often criticized “Three Men in the Room” format of creating a state budget. Both the leader of the Assembly and the leader of the Senate – along with the governor – are the key players of the budget process. Republicans would like to see a member of their party involved in that process, which for the past few years has been Senate Majority leader Dean Skelos – the republican from Long Island.