With six weeks left before voters go to the polls, New York candidates are hitting the streets and the airwaves. Democrats are trying to hold onto their control of the state Senate. Last year, their narrow majority temporarily slipped away and gave the Republicans a fleeting new lease on life, for a while anyway. Eventually dissident Democrats came back to the fold, but the chaos only complicated an already dysfunctional budget process.
WNYC's Bob Hennelly spoke to Amy Eddings about how the primary results may play into the Albany power struggle.
AE: So, Bob, across the country Republican candidates are being given better than even odds of defeating Democrats, is this the same when it comes to NY Senate races? And what are NY Democrats doing about it?
BH: Well today I ran into Manhattan state Senator Liz Krueger, who was positively on cloud nine when I caught up with her at a U.N. Iranian protest rally. She says Democrats have a not-so-secret weapon.
"Actually I think the biggest gift to the Democratic party on state elections this year is a man named Carl Paladino," she said. "Democrats and Republicans will actually be unified in their vote against Carl Paladino in November."
So, what Krueger thinks is going to happen is that they'll have [Eric] Schneiderman as attorney general, [Thomas] DiNapoli as comptroller, and Andrew Cuomo at the top of the ticket, which will cause an updraft. And you'll have people come in and go in there and vote for Democratic state senators in places they haven't thought of doing it in the past, and that could be the margin for victory.
AE: And what are those specific places where the Democrats think they can pick up Senate seats?
Well her second not-so-secret weapon is a number of women that the Democrats have recruited. District 44 in Schenectady, Susan Savage taking on incumbent Hugh Farley; District 55, that's up in Rochester, Mary Wilmot taking on incumbent Republican Jim Alessi; District 43, Rensselaer-Saratoga, Joanne Yepsen, Democrat, versus incumbent Republican Roy McDonald; District 41, Didi Barrett, that's up in Columbia County, taking on incumbent Steve Saland.
So, the women, the Democratic women, appear to be on the march.
Now let's move over to New Jersey. Governor Chris Christie has been throwing his weight behind Republican gubernatorial candidates and is on an extensive out-of-state travel schedule. Why does it matter if the governor of New Jersey campaigns for people in other states?
BH: He's becoming a national figure, which could have some implications in New Jersey in swing districts. We know that John Adler, a Democrat, is in a tough battle against the football star out of Philadelphia, Mr. [Jon] Runyan. Christie is going over to California to help out Meg Whitman, and then he's going on to New Mexico, where the Republican Susan Martinez seems to be doing pretty well against the Democratic lieutenant governor, and they're running for the top spot there. This is critical because this is re-apportionment time, and the statehouse and the governor's mansion are critical to that. So, in some ways, Governor Christie, who is a provincial figure, is now a national force to be reckoned with.