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Control Of State Senate Could Hinge On Hudson Valley

State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins could become the first woman Senate Majority Leader. Photo Credit: Submitted
Campaign signs can be found 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. Republican control of the state Senate is being hotly challenged on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6.
A campaign ad for state Sen. Sue Serino of Hyde Park who represents Putnam and Dutchess counties. Republican control of the state Senate is being hotly challenged on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6. Video Credit: NYS Senate Republican Campaign Committee

Democrats managed to pull six key Sept. 13 primary upsets in the state Senate, as reported here by Daily Voice, but have they raised enough money and voter support to take back the Republican-controlled chamber in Albany on Nov. 6?

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

Hudson Valley labor unions have added at least three local Senate races to their "get out the vote" phone bank call lists in the final days of the campaign.

Meanwhile, races involving state Sens. Terrence Murphy of Westchester, a Yorktown Republican, and David Carlucci of Rockland, a New City Democrat, are closer than originally expected, according to political experts.

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

Bonacic and Larkin's adjoining districts -- the 39th and the 42nd -- are 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.

Which party emerges with a majority on Tuesday, Nov. 6 will be significant for New Yorkers.

Democrats taking control of the state Senate would remove 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.

But Republicans argue 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 is running against Democrat James Skoufis, 30, of Woodbury in Orange County for Larkin's vacated 39th District seat.

Basile said he fears Democrats will return to the mentality of 2009-2010 when they controlled the state Senate and created the MTA payroll tax. Basile, a communications consultant, thinks more taxes will drive more New Yorkers to seek jobs out-of-state.

Three-term Assemblyman Skoufis, meanwhile, argues that Republican state lawmakers allocate too much school aid to Long Island, where they currently control seven of nine seats.  Skoufis thinks he can be effective whether Republicans continue to control the Senate, or not.

Basile criticized Skoufis and other state Democrats for supporting free tuition at public colleges and aid to children of undocumented immigrants. He also has called the New York Health Act "socialized medicine."

But 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 are Orange County Clerk Annie Rabbitt, 57, a Republican from Greenwood Lake and Democrat Jen Metzger, 53 of Rosendale. Metzger is director of Citizens for Local Power

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, thinks focusing on school aid and high taxes are more important than the stalled bills that Democrats complain about.  She's also 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 Nov. 6.

Democrats need a net gain of just one seat to take control of the Senate and consider five districts where Republicans are retiring -- including Bonacic's and Larkin's -- as winnable.

Republicans are 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 is challenging 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, is favored to win over Democratic challenger Karen Smythe. Serino's 41st Senate District includes Putnam and part of Dutchess County.

However, Smythe is receiving some last-minute campaign support from local labor unions. The Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation is making "get out the vote" calls from its phone banks in support of Smythe, Skoufis, Metzger and other Democrats.

If Democrats take control of the state Senate, Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Yonkers is seen as a likely next Majority Leader of the chamber. She is unopposed in the 35th Senate District on Nov. 6.

On the primary 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 also is running 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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