By Alex Robinson
While Democratic state senators in Queens were able to retain their seats, their upstate colleagues did not fare as well, leading to the GOP reasserting their control over the upper chamber.
The Republicans were poised to knock off three upstate Democrats Tuesday night to win the 32 seats needed for a majority in the 63-member Senate.
The GOP previously controlled the state Senate in a power-sharing coalition with a five-member faction of breakaway Democrats called the Independent Democratic Conference.
Facing primaries, the IDC struck a deal this summer to form a new coalition with mainline Democrats. IDC leadership had reportedly gone cold on the new agreement recently as two of its members continued to face primaries, but it is unlikely the rogue Democrats will serve as kingmakers either way this legislative session as the GOP no longer need the IDC to retain power.
A spokeswoman for the IDC did not return requests for comment.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who joined the IDC in February and endured a bitter primary battle against former City Comptroller John Liu this summer, declined to comment on how the election results would affect the IDC. Avella beat Green Party candidate Paul Gilman in a landslide by a margin of 92.1 percent to 7.9 percent, according to unofficial Board of Elections results.
Democrats had hoped to wrestle power of the state Senate away from Republicans, who have dominated control of the chamber for decades.
Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy issued a statement after the election results came in saying Democrats remain committed to a number of legislative initiatives, including hiking the minimum wage and passing the Women’s Equality Act.
“We congratulate the entire Democratic statewide slate and while we are disappointed with the Senate results, we congratulate the Republicans,” he said.
Senate Democrats blamed their party’s poor performance on low voter turn out, the GOP sweep across the country, and anger toward President Barrack Obama.
“This was a tsunami for the Republicans,” said state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), who won his own district by a margin of 55.1 to 44.9 percent against Republican Michael Conigliaro. “There’s momentum with every election. We saw it with other presidential and mid-term elections. There is a certain momentum in every campaign.”
Addabbo attributed the closeness of his own race to anger toward Obama and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“This was a message sent by the people that they have been angered by incumbents, Democrats, de Blasio and Obama,” he said “Local politics is most important to my constituents. Obama and De Blasio won’t come through that door and help you, but I’ll be there.”
Addabbo, Avella and state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) were the only three lawmakers from the upper chamber who faced general election challengers in Queens. Gianaris crushed independent challenger Anthony Aldorasi, winning 95.8 percent of the vote, according to unofficial BOE results.