Democrats appeared to retake control of the state Senate Tuesday, as Republicans failed to win a Queens race they had poured resources into and may have lost several other tight contests around New York.
The likely changeover from GOP control would be one more victory for the party that saw President Obama re-elected and solidified its control of the U.S. Senate even as it lost a few more seats in the House of Representatives.
State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) won re-election to the 15th Senate District seat by roughly 10,000 votes over his Republican challenger, City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), in what had been one of the most hotly contested state legislative races in the country. There were days voters in the district, which covers South, southwestern and much of central Queens, were inundated with three or four mailers backing one candidate or trashing the other, from state party organizations, unions and political action committees.
Addabbo won 38,011 votes, or 57 percent of the total, compared to Ulrich’s 28,358, or 43 percent, according to preliminary Board of Elections results reported by NY 1.
Another closely watched Queens race was even more decisive. State Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) defeated Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) 68 percent to 31 in the race for the newly redrawn 6th Congressional District, in northern and central Queens.
That race did not alter the balance of power in the House, which Republicans rule, as Meng will succeed Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Queens, Nassau), who is retiring at the end of the year.
But Addabbo’s victory over Ulrich, along with those of other Democratic state senators in Queens, served as a political firewall as the party seemed to win enough other seats around the state to take control of Albany’s upper chamber when the new session begins in January.
According to published reports, including one in the Daily News that cited state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria), chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, the party appears poised to win a 32-31 majority. But several races across the state remained too close to call Wednesday morning, the reports said, and the Republicans were not willing to concede either those races or control of the chamber.
The GOP now holds 33 seats and the Democrats 29 in the 62-member Senate, which is being expanded to 63 districts in January. The Republican majority added the new seat during this year’s redistricting process, in a move critics said was designed to help ensure the party’s control — which it has held for decades aside from the 2009-10 session, when Democrats had a stint in the lead.
In the state Assembly, Democrats hold a commanding majority and will again next year.
Several state lawmakers in Queens ran unopposed for re-election. In those races that were contested:
Democrat Nily Rozic beat Republican Abe Fuchs for the 25th Assembly District seat, in eastern Queens, by a 67 to 25 percent margin;
Assemblywoman Marge Markey (D-Maspeth) beat Republican Tony Nunziato 68 to 32 percent in the 30th District;
Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village) trounced independent Clyde Vanel, 89 to 11 percent, in the 33rd District;
Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) did the same to Republican Julia Haich, 84 to 16 percent, in the 36th District;
Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood) ran roughshod over GOPer John Wilson, winning 88 to 12 percent in the 37th District;
Democrat Ron Kim defeated Republican Phil Gim 67 to 33 percent for the open seat in Flushing’s 40th Assembly District;
state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) won re-election by a 73 to 27 percent margin over Republican Joe Concannon;
Gianaris, the state senator from Astoria, overwhelmed the GOP’s Tony Arcabascio with 86 percent of the vote to the latter’s 13 percent;
state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) took down Republican JD Kim 76 to 23 percent;
Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx) sent GOPer William Gibbons packing with 83 percent of the vote to the challenger’s 15 percent;
Rep. Steve Israel (D-Nassau, Suffolk), an incumbent whose district will include northeastern Queens in January, beat Republican Stephen Labate 58 to 42 percent;
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) beat GOP nominee Allan Jennings 90 to 10 percent;
Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan) crushed Conservative James Murray 94 to 6 percent; and
Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) routed Republican Alan Bellone by a margin of 90 to 9 percent for the new 8th Congressional District, in South Queens and Brooklyn.
Statewide, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) beat Republican Wendy Long 72 to 27 percent statewide for her first full term in office.
Obama beat Republican challenger Mitt Romney with at least 303 of the country’s 538 electoral votes. On Wednesday morning, Florida, with 29 electoral votes, was still too close to call, according to the national media. The final result will be either 303 or 332 electoral votes for Obama to either 206 or 235 for Romney.
Democrats reportedly won some new seats in the 100-member U.S. Senate, where they already lead, while Republicans added to their strong majority in the 435-member House.