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Tuesday's Election Results A Mixed Bag For Major Parties In NY


Republicans and Democrats in the State Senate both have victories to point to in last night’s election results. 

Following a landslide win, former Broome County Sherriff’s Deputy Fred Akshar became one of the two newest members of the State Senate.

The Democratic candidate favored by Governor Cuomo, former Broome County Executive and state Motor Vehicles Commissioner Barbara Fiala, trailed in the race by more than 50 points. Cuomo, after an initial endorsement, did not help Fiala with any significant money or workers for her campaign. 

The Chair of the State’s Republican Party, Ed Cox, said just Cuomo’s imprint on Fiala doomed her campaign. 

“This is huge,” Cox said. “This is against Cuomo’s handpicked candidate.” 

Cox says there’s lingering resentment in the Southern Tier district over the governor’s decision to ban hydro fracking of natural gas, as well as stricter gun control laws and an overall sour economy. 

And the GOP Chair says he sees tea leaves for political races beyond next year’s Senate races. 

“This is really, to me, a canary in the coalmine for Governor Cuomo for 2018,” said Cox. “He’s in deep trouble. His polls show it. He cannot get his job approval numbers over 40 percent in poll after poll now, no matter how hard he tries.” 

Cuomo is not popular in the Southern Tier, though he is better liked in many other parts of the state, including New York City, where most of his base supporters reside. 

Democrats did win some key races, including the Nassau County District Attorney’s seat, and Erie County Executive. 

Democratic Senate Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins says the Southern Tier race was in a heavily Republican district, and probably was not winnable for Democrats anyway. 

“It’s been in the Republican hands for over 100 years,” Stewart Cousins said. “We understood it was a very, very steep hill to climb.” 

She said in the open Senate seat in Brooklyn, where Democrats dominate the electorate, a Democrat, Roxanne Persaud won. 

Both of the Senate seats were vacant because both of their former occupants were forced to leave after being convicted of felony corruption charges. John Sampson, a former Senate Leader, held the Brooklyn seat until he was convicted of obstruction of justice for trying to prevent a federal inquiry. That probe was looking into charges that he embezzled funds he oversaw as a part of mortgage foreclosures, and then tried to use the profits to finance a run for District Attorney.  Binghamton Senator Tom Libous was the Deputy Majority Leader, until he was convicted of lying to the FBI about trying to get special employment and other privileges for his son.

In addition, the former Speaker of the Assembly is in court facing federal corruption charges, and the most recent leader of the Senate, Dean Skelos, goes on trial Nov. 16 in federal court on charges that he monetized his office to get a job and other favors for his own son. 

Current Senate Democratic Leader Stewart Cousins said the two newest Senators, as well as the rest of the Senate, will have to do more to win back the public’s trust. 

“We understand that people expect us to operate on a level that does not compromise their faith and trust in us,” she said. 

Senate Democrats back a bill to limit lawmaker’s outside income to just $12,000 a year, while raising salaries in compensation. 

Stewart Cousins said perhaps there will be more impetus in 2016 to make those changes.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.
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