Democrats Win Two Seats in Special Election

Tuesday’s special elections resulted in Democratic victories to fill both the 9th Assembly District and the 30th Senate District seats.

As expected, Democrat Brian Benjamin won the race in the 30th Senate District to replace Bill Perkins, who won a special election in February to reclaim his seat on the New York City Council. The longtime political fundraiser for former President Barack Obama secured the Democratic nomination in March and defeated Republican Dawn Simmons.

The current balance of power in the Senate is comprised of 31 Republicans, 8 Independent Democratic Conference members, Simcha Felder, a registered Democrat who caucuses with the Republicans, and 23 members of the mainline Democratic Conference. The Republican coalition with the IDC, plus Felder, gives them a functional majority of 40 members.

However, on Wednesday, May 25, Felder sent an open letter to Sen. Jeff Klein, leader of the IDC, calling for the breakaway Democrats to rejoin the mainline Democratic conference. While he did not personally pledge to rejoin the Democrats, he argued that Democrats should focus on unifying in support of a progressive agenda for the State. The IDC has operated in a power-sharing coalition with the GOP since 2011.

In the race for the 9th Assembly District, Democrat Christine Pellegrino won in an surprising upset over Republican Thomas Gargiulo. Last year, Pellegrino served as a delegate for Sen. Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Convention. The historically Republican seat was previously held by Joseph Saladino, who was appointed Town Supervisor of Oyster Bay after the former Town Supervisor, John Venditto, resigned in the wake of his indictment on federal corruption charges. The balance of power in the Assembly weighs heavily in Democratic favor: 106-43, with one Independent.