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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The State Senate is up for grabs

The New York State Senate, which has historically been controlled by Republicans, is in play in November’s election, and races on Long Island are key.

There are five factors giving Senate Republicans cause for concern. First, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who previously had a hands-off approach, is now actively promoting a Democratic Senate. Second, the independent block of senators that currently caucus with the Republicans say they will side with the Democrats next session. Third, the field of Democrats running this year is much stronger and more well-funded than usual. Fourth, the Republicans are distracted by recent indictments and retirements of key senators in battleground areas. Finally, everyone’s angry about their school taxes.

Republicans have, for the most part, controlled all nine Senate seats here on Long Island for decades. Their key argument, that a Republican Senate keeps more school aid on Long Island, has been undermined by the fact that Long Islanders pay the highest school taxes in America, largely because of expensive mandates by the state and inadequate state aid to pay for them. If Democrats on Long Island want to win Senate seats in November, they will have to argue that they’ll do a better job of streamlining state mandates for schools and making sure Long Island gets its fair share of state school aid.

The governor, who, if he runs for president, will need Democrats in a primary, has agreed to support the members of his party in November. That may seem like something obvious to most casual observers, but it only happened after a great deal of horse-trading and arm-twisting. An agreement by the independent block of senators to support the Senate Democrats was similarly achieved.

Party unity, and fundraising by the Democrats, makes them stronger than usual. That strength, along with retirements and indictments of key senators, has attracted more quality Democratic candidates who believe that with Cuomo at the top of the ticket and the factors mentioned above, they have a good chance of succeeding.

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