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Race For Latimer's Open State Senate Seat Seen As Key State Bellwether

Republican Julie Killian and Democrat Shelley Mayer.
Republican Julie Killian and Democrat Shelley Mayer. Photo Credit: Contributed photos

Control of the state Senate chamber may be determined by the outcome of a special election in Westchester on Tuesday, April 24.

Who wins Westchester County Exec George Latimer’s open seat in the 37th District could also be a bellwether for races around the state, indicating whether Democrats can ride "a wave election" in November, according to political observers.

Elections will be held for 11 vacant legislative seats, including two in the state Senate on April 24.

One of the seats, formerly held by New York City Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr., is in a solidly Democratic district in the Bronx. 

The other, which was vacated by Latimer when he became Westchester County executive in January, has always been a political battleground seat.

Democratic Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer of Yonkers and Republican Julie Killian, a former Rye city councilwoman, are competing for the seat. 

Republican Bob Cohen lost narrowly to Democratic incumbent Suzi Oppenheimer in 2010 and to Latimer in 2012. 

Jeanne Zaino, a professor of political science at Iona College, told in this article that the race between Mayer and Killian is closer than many observers had expected.

Zaino said one of Killian’s strategies has been to tie Mayer to the taint of corruption that permeates Albany. 

Michael Lawler, Killian’s campaign manager, has said corruption in Albany is an important election issue.

However, President Donald Trump remains unpopular in New York state, and recent races – including Latimer's win over two-time incumbent Republican Rob Astorino – underscored that.

That dynamic is continuing to play out in the race between Mayer and Killian, Zaino said.

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