Democrats have officially captured a majority of the seats in the New York State Senate, but Republicans will continue to control the chamber, through an alliance with a group of Independent Democrats.
A court-ordered hand count Friday of the remaining ballots in an upstate New York Senate race gave Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk a 19-vote lead over Republican George Amedore, who was leading the race by less than 100 votes and had taken the oath of office. Two ballots, including one recently discovered in Montgomery County remain to be counted in the race, Capitol Tonight reported. The race was for a newly created 63rd seat in the New York Senate. While Democrats now control 33 seats in the chamber, one Democrat has joined the Republican conference while five Democrats have formed their own Independent Democratic conference, which formed a coalition with Republicans to control the chamber.
National Democrats are cheering the Tkaczyk win even though Republicans continue to dominate the chamber. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, a Washington-based group that works with Democratic candidates for state legislative seats, had provided assistance to Tkaczyk's campaign, the only one the DLCC helped in New York.
"We're extremely proud, we think it is exciting" DLCC executive director Michael Sargeant told The Huffington Post. "The majority of New York state prefers Democratic representation in the Senate.
Sargeant declined to discuss the internal politics in the New York Senate that has given control to Republicans. Under the deal, Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and Independent Democratic leader Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) will jointly control the Senate and have a daily rotation of the post of temporary president of the Senate. The IDC was formed in 2011 by a group of Democrats who expressed issues with previous Democratic control. The IDC received committee chairmanships from the GOP in 2011.
Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) has formally joined the Republican conference while remaining a Democrat. Felder reportedly will be named chairman of the Senate Children and Families Committee and the chairman of a new subcommittee on education in New York City.
Tkaczyk is the last state legislative winner declared in the country. Sargeant expects the race to remain competitive in 2014 as well. Nationally Republicans helped GOP candidates for the New York Senate, the last bastion of Republican control in the Empire State. Republicans have controlled the New York Senate for most of the last 70 years, except for 1965, 2009 and 2010.
"The Republicans drew a new district to help Amedore," Sargeant said. "It did not work here because voters don't trust Republicans in New York."