ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – Republican Bob Cohen on Monday conceded to Democratic Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer after a long recount in New York’s 37th Senate District race, but Republicans insisted they will still control the chamber in January.
The Nov. 2 election gave Republicans a chance to regain dominance in the Senate after Democrats gained a 32-30 majority two years ago. But challenges to the election results in three races have left party control of the Senate uncertain.
Cohen had trailed Oppenheimer by about 600 votes in the race for the seat representing Westchester County and declined to try to force a costly and lengthy hand count of the vote or other appeals.
Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Craig Johnson of Nassau County said he will appeal a state court decision Saturday, making Republican newcomer Jack Martins the winner of Johnson’s 7th Senate District seat. The state Appellate Division is scheduled to hear the appeal Tuesday.
“Frankly, this is bigger than me, bigger than Jack Martins, and bigger than who controls the state Senate,” Johnson said in a prepared statement. “This is about preserving the principle of one man, one vote that our government was founded upon.”
If Johnson’s appeal is unsuccessful, Republicans would have a 32-30 majority for the two-year legislative term beginning in January.
A week ago, Democratic Sen. Antoine Thompson of Buffalo conceded his race during a recount. Republican Mark J. Grisanti will represent the 60th district in Buffalo.
A prolonged legal fight by Johnson to save the majority would be a difficult proposition for Democrats. State Board of Elections records show the party’s Senate Campaign Committee owes more than $2.4 million now.
But power beyond the upcoming session is at stake. The party that controls the Senate traditionally redraws election districts after every U.S. Census, using the power to protect their members by giving them strong enrollment advantages. The next redistricting is in 2011.
For Oppenheimer, one of the toughest and most expensive fights in her career is over. She has held the seat since 1984, but all Democrats had to contend with a record of dysfunction and corruption during their time as the majority party over the past two years.
“I offer my sincere congratulations to Senator Oppenheimer on a hard-won victory,” Cohen said Monday. “Some supporters have urged me to press for a hand recount of the ballots because of voting irregularities, but I ran to stick up for Westchester taxpayers and I cannot ask them to pay that bill.”
Oppenheimer said she is happy to work with Republicans, if they prevail and hold the majority, and with Democratic Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo.
“Last year we did some important work around education reform and around education mandate relief,” she said in an interview. “I want to continue that work.
“I think it should be, hopefully, an important year for the reform issues Andrew has spoken out on,” she said.
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