Long Islanders woke up Wednesday to learn their votes helped Democrats win a majority of the New York State Senate.
Those gains put the Democrats in control of the senate for the first time in eight years.
“The Democrats won an overwhelming majority in the state senate largely because of the six victories on Long Island,” said Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association, the region’s top business group.
The victory likely puts Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, as the next Senate majority leader.
“Her district is suburban,” said Michael Harrison, president and CEO of Axcelsior Strategic Solutions, a Massapequa-based government affairs firm. That distinction indicates that Stewart-Cousins would have an “appreciation” for and “be sensitive” to Long Island’s needs, Harrison pointed out.
Now, all eyes are on Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat in the 9th district who defeated Francis Becker by a margin of 62 to 38 percent.
“This time, when I go back to Albany it will be in the majority, and I look forward to all the great things we will accomplish together,” Kaminsky said in a statement.
“Watch for Sen. Todd Kaminsky to be awarded a leadership position as he will now become the go-to guy to get things done in the state senate,” Law told LIBN. “I am confident he and his new senate colleagues will look out for our region.”
Harrison shared that sentiment.
“Kaminsky emerge as the natural leader combined with the most experience,” Harrison said. “He is the known quantity within the Democratic conference right now.”
A Democratic majority in the state senate could mean lawmakers will pass new legislation that allows New York to collect sales tax on Internet purchases, Harrison said.
While Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed collecting online sales tax previously, “it never made it through,” Harrison said.
John Flanagan, the senate GOP leader, said in a statement that the election results were “disappointing,” Republicans will continue to have a “strong voice” at the state level.
“Senate Republicans will never stop advocating for the principles we believe in or the agenda that New Yorkers and their families deserve,” he said.
Democrats would do well to work with expertise of Flanagan, as well as Sen. Philip Boyle and Sen. Kenneth LaValle – who all won races as incumbents on Tuesday, Harrison said.
Democrats should “make use to the degree that they can of that institutional knowledge,” when it comes to challenges that the region, Harrison said.
But Lisa Tyson, the director of the Massapequa-based Long Island Progressive Coalition, said there is now momentum for change.
“We have new leadership in the senate that must stand up and fight for progressive changes throughout the state,” Tyson said in a statement.
“New York voters spoke loud and clear today as they shifted the power in the New York State Senate,” she said. “Voters want real change. They want voting reform, public financing of elections, school aid that does not leave any child behind, and they want New York to make a bold stand and truly address climate change.”
In an upset in the state’s 5th senate district, James Gaughran, a Democrat, defeated state Sen. Carl Marcellino, a Republican and the 23-year incumbent, by a margin of 54 to 46 percent. And Democratic candidate Kevin Thomas ousted 29-year incumbent Kemp Hannon, a Republican, by a margin of 50 to 49 percent,
And in the 7th district, Anna Kaplan, the Democratic North Hempstead councilwoman, unseated Sen. Elaine Phillips, the Republican incumbent, 54 to 45 percent.
John Brooks, the Democrat incumbent, defeated Jeff Pravato, 53 to 47 percent in the 8th district. And in Suffolk, Legis. Monica Martinez defeated Dean Murray, a Republican, in the 3rd district.
Long Island Business News, Author, Adina Genn