Democrats just scored multiple pivotal victories in New York special elections

New York’s Senate is unique as state legislatures go. There are 31 senators who were elected as Republicans, and 30 elected Democrats. But nine of those elected Democrats caucus with the GOP, and there are currently two vacancies, giving the Republican Party a commanding majority for the better part of a decade.

While a recent deal brokered by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo has brought back eight of the nine defections (one state Senator, Simcha Felder, is notoriously independent), that left the chamber at a de facto 31 Republicans to 29 Democrats – with the two vacancies remaining.

Among tonight’s 11 special elections in New York’s state Senate, those two vacancies – Senate districts 32 and 37 – were both taken by Democrats, effectively bringing the chamber to a tie.

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In Senate district 32, Democratic Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda emerged victorious. In the more competitive Senate district 37, Democratic Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer defeated Republican Julie Killian.

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The race to represent SD37 cost upwards of $4 million, with more than 60 percent coming from the Republican Party’s national office. However, the spending blitz was not enough to prevent a Democratic win.

With the chamber now effectively tied at 31 Democrats and 31 Republicans (with one independent), the stage is set for Democrats to finally retake control in November. With almost unprecedented enthusiasm on the left, it seems wholly unlikely that Democrats won’t be able to flip just one seat necessary to turn the state Senate blue.

The news is underscored by another major Democratic win in New York’s state Assembly. In the 10th Assembly District, Democrat Steve Stern has defeated his Republican challenger Janet Smitelli 53.5% to 32.5%, flipping the seat from red to blue.  This impressive victory marks a 13-point swing from the results of the 2016 election, and the 40th flipped seat.

Tonight’s slew of victories is not only welcome news for Democrats, but also a grave warning for Republicans as November fast approaches. The American people are fed up with the GOP’s glaring inability to govern, and they’re letting them know in historic fashion.

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Brian Tyler Cohen

Managing editor

Brian Tyler Cohen is a political writer, actor, and comedy sketch director. He graduated from Lehigh University with a dual degree in English and Business. He currently lives in Los Angeles.


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