By Anne Hayden
Two days after a “historic bipartisan partnership” was announced for the state Senate, a race that could have made a difference in the Senate majority is still undecided.
Now, due to the coalition formed by Dean Skelos, leader of the Republican Conference, and Jeff Klein, leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, even if Democrat Cecelia Tkaczyk wins the seat in the 46th District, her party won’t have a chance at taking the Senate majority.
“Cecelia has made it clear that she ran as a Democrat, she will win as a Democrat, and she will sit with the Democratic conference,” Gary Ginsburg, a spokesman for Tkaczyk’s campaign, told The Enterprise yesterday.
Kris Thompson, Amedore’s campaign manager, said the restructuring of the Senate majority is “separate and apart from this race.”
Up until Tuesday, Republicans held 31 seats in the Senate and the Democrats held 30, including four members of the Independent Democratic Conference. If Tkaczyk won, another undecided race went to the Democrats, and the Independent Democratic Conference collaborated with the party, the Democrats would have had 32 seats.
On Dec. 4, the Senate Republicans sent out a joint release with the Independent Democratic Conference, stating that the IDC — Klein, David Valesky, Diane Savino, and David Carlucci — would partner with them, and that the IDC had added a fifth member — Malcolm Smith, formerly a mainline Democrat.
The current makeup of the Senate, after the coalition was formed, is 30 Republicans, five Independent Democrats, 25 mainline Democrats, and one Democrat, Simcha Felder, who will conference with Republicans.
Under the agreement, according to the release, the IDC will be recognized as a third, permanent Senate conference.
“Senator Klein and Senator Skelos will assume the roles of Conference Leader for their respective conferences and will administer joint and equal authority…” the release said. The title of temporary president will alternate between the two conference leaders every two weeks.
Tkaczyk, a farmer and a school board member from Duanseburg, making her first run from state office, was the unofficial early winner in the race for the 46th District, by a small margin of 139 votes. She is still stuck in limbo as the Montgomery County Court looks at ballot objections filed by her competitor, Republican George Amedore, along with some filed by her own campaign.
Amedore, a developer who served on the Assembly, now holds a lead of 111 votes, but an official winner might not be declared until next week, and both candidates are confident that they will take the seat.
The new district, created last year by the then-dominant Senate Republicans, covers five counties — Albany, Montgomery, Schenectady, Greene, and Ulster.
The process is taking longer than expected, because Supreme Court Justice Guy Tomlinson decided to allow an appeals process to go forward. Tomlinson is not opening ballot envelopes, but judging their validity based on the application only. Then, if one party objects to his judgment, it can appeal it to the Appellate Division, the state’s middle-level court.
Neither campaign feels that the outcome of the race will be impacted by the changing landscape of the Senate majority, and both are unclear on how the appeals process could play out.
Ginsburg said he hoped the appeals process would encourage Amedore’s campaign to drop some of its objections — the Republicans filed 660 to the Democrats 210.
“If they want to drop some of their frivolous objections and speed this process up, that would be nice, but I can’t speculate on how this will affect their strategy,” said Ginsburg.
Thompson said he didn’t know whether the appeals process would work for or against Amedore.
“I don’t know because we don’t know what’s in the ballots,” Thompson said.
“We’re confident that the most important thing to the court is that voters get their voices heard,” said Ginsburg.
“At this point, we’re still ahead,” Thompson said. “I have no reason to believe we won’t remain ahead.”