In the New York State Legislature, the 40-member Senate Democratic conference needs a net gain of two seats to enjoy a super majority, which would give it the ability to override a possible gubernatorial veto.
Because of the so-called "blue shift," a phenomenon in which more Democrats voted by absentee this year than Republicans, Democrats are feeling quite confident they will win those two seats, and possibly more. One reason? Republicans around the country had discouraged early and absentee voting, while Democrats supported it.
"There are over a million ballots still to be counted in competitive races and these ballots skew heavily Democratic," Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy told Capital Tonight. "Senate Democrats are once again guaranteed to win a historic majority, and once the elections are over we will have even more Democrats than we have right now. This is the first time Democrats have won back-to-back majorities in New York since 1936, and we are on a strong path to a super majority."
Murphy continued, saying, "the supposed red wave was nothing but a red mirage."
So far, Democrats have flipped three open seats in Western New York that had been held by Republicans. In the open seat in SD-60, former Assemblyman Sean Ryan won the Buffalo area seat that had been vacated by now Congressman Chris Jacobs. In SD-55, Samra Brouk, whose parents immigrated from Ethiopia, won the seat formerly held by Republican Rich Funke. Jeremy Cooney, an Indian-American, lodged a win against Republican Mike Barry in the race for the Senate’s 56th district, formerly held by Republican Joe Robach.
These three "flipped" seats join 33 incumbents who will most likely retain their seats. One freshman Democrat, Senator Monica Martinez of SD-3 in Suffolk County on Long Island, is on track to lose her seat to Republican Alexis Weik.
That leaves eight outstanding races. Here’s where they are:
- SD-5: In this Long Island district, the margin between Democratic incumbent Jim Gaughran and Republican challenger Edmund Smyth was 13,848 votes as of Monday, in favor of the Republican. About half of all returned absentee ballots are from Democratic voters; 9,051 are from Republican voters. This is still anyone’s race.
- SD-6: In this Nassau County district, there were 7,694 ballots in favor of Republican challenger Dennis Dunne over Democratic incumbent Kevin Thomas. 30,619 absentee ballots have been returned. Again, about half of those are from Democratic voters. 8,261 of those are from Republicans. This one could be a squeaker, too.
- SD-22: There was a Republican lead of 5,210 votes in the race between incumbent Democrat Andrew Gounardes and Republican challenger Vito Bruno in Brooklyn. But on Monday, there had been almost 19,000 absentee ballots returned; of those, 11,527 were from registered Democrats, 2,806 were from registered Republicans. Not surprisingly, Democrats feel good about this race.
- SD-38: In the Hudson Valley race for this open seat, Democrat Elijah Reichlin-Melnick was 3,149 votes behind Republican Bill Weber. Of the 33,219 absentee ballots that had been returned, 19,064 were from Democrats while only 5,787 were from Republicans, a difference of over 13,000 votes. Democrats feel this race is all but theirs.
- SD-40: In this highly watched Hudson Valley contest, Democratic incumbent Peter Harckham faced off against former gubernatorial candidate and Westchester County Executive, Republican challenger Rob Astorino. But the so-called "blue shift" may affect this race as well. Astorino had a 7,461 vote lead with 39,651 absentee ballots outstanding. 21,113 of those were from Democratic voters; 7,788 were from Republican voters. It will be almost impossible for Astorino to retain his lead.
- SD-42: Republican challenger Mike Martucci has a better shot at Democratic incumbent Jen Metzger. In this Hudson Valley race, Martucci had a lead of 10,589, with 27,128 absentee ballots outstanding as of Monday. 13,470 of those were cast by Democrats. 6,938 were cast by Republicans. This is still a tight race. If the GOP challenger is victorious, the Republicans will have flipped at least two seats.
- SD-46: In the Capital Region contest for the open seat held by Republican George Amedore, Democrat Michelle Hinchey was behind Republican Rich Amedure by 8,171 votes. There had been 27,983 absentee ballots to open on Monday. 14,216 were from Democratic voters while 5,895 were from Republican voters. Democrats feel confident they will flip this formerly red seat to blue.
- SD-50: In this hotly contested Syracuse open seat long-held by Republicans, financial planner Angi Renna held a 7,228 vote lead on Monday over Democratic teacher John Mannion. Of the 39,665 absentee ballots that were returned, 17,938 were from Democrats, while 10,338 were from Republicans.
Votes for SD-50 from Onondaga County will not be counted in this race until Thursday, while the Board of Elections focuses on counting votes in SD-53, which pitted Democratic incumbent Rachel May against Republican challenger Sam Rodgers.
The Democrats we have talked with are already counting May in the "Win" column.
A call to Senator Pam Helming, the head of the State Senate Republican Campaign Committee, was not returned.