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NYS Government and Legislative Update – General Election Key Takeaways

Tuesday was Election Day in New York and across the country. As it is an even-numbered year, all statewide offices, seats in the New York State Senate and Assembly, U.S. House of Representatives, Senator Schumer’s senate seat, and a variety of local races were on the ballot. There was also one ballot initiative for voters to decide on. This was the first election cycle for statewide candidates since New York adopted early voting. More than 1.1 million New Yorkers voted early, and thousands more cast absentee ballots. While we know the results of the early and election day votes, the absentee ballots will continue to be counted as they arrive at county boards of election throughout the state. The counting of the absentee ballots means that the results from many races will not be finalized for days, and perhaps weeks, to come. There are still several races too close to call in the State Legislature, but there are many decisive results and key takeaways. 

New York Governor’s Race

In what became a high-profile race, Governor Kathy Hochul and her Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado, were elected to their first full term as Governor and Lieutenant Governor, defeating the Republican challengers Representative Lee Zeldin and his running mate Alison Esposito. This race garnered national attention as the polls showed this race being closer than what is typically seen in New York for a Democratic candidate. However, in the end, Governor Hochul won the election and Lee Zeldin officially conceded on Wednesday. With the win, Governor Hochul makes history as the first woman to be elected as the Governor of New York.

New York Attorney General and Comptroller Races

Attorney General Letitia James beat Republican challenger Michael Henry, securing her second term as Attorney General. Likewise, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli won his fifth term of office, beating Republican challenger Paul Rodriguez.

State Senate Races

All 63 seats in the New York State Senate were up for election this year. Although all polls, and very early election night returns, seemed to point towards the Democrats losing their supermajority, there is still a distinct possibility that Democrats may end up hanging onto their veto-proof majority in the State Senate. In total, it appears Democrats are poised to have at least 40 seats in the Senate. Twenty-two Democrats and eight Republicans have officially been declared winners in their Senate races. Additionally, it appears another 18 Democrats and another 14 Republicans will be declared winners in the other races not yet declared. Whether the Senate Democrats keep their supermajority will come down to two races that are currently too close to call:

  • District 16: I Wen Chu, Democrat, is leading the Republican candidate, Vito LaBella, by 215 votes.
  • District 50: Rebecca Shiroff, Republican, is currently leading Democratic incumbent Senator, John Mannion, by 396 votes.

While the overall number of Senate seats may remain the same for both the Democrats and the Republicans, the breakdown of where those seats are located and who maintains control of key areas will look different because several incumbents lost their races. Additionally, there were several open seats that changed party hands. On the Democratic side, in the 5th District, Senator John Brooks has likely lost to Steven Rhoads (R); in the 7th District, Senator Anna Kaplan (D) has likely lost to Jack Martins (R); and in the in the 38th District, Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick (D) has likely lost to Bill Weber (R). 

In districts where incumbents were redistricted into the same district, the Democratic candidates prevailed. Senator Michelle Hinchey (D) beat Senator Susan Serino (R) in the 41st District, and Senator Sean Ryan (D) beat Senator Ed Rath (R) in the 61st District. In the 52nd District, which was an open seat because of current incumbent Senator Fred Akshar (R) running instead for Broome County Sheriff, the Democratic candidate, Lea Webb, appears to have defeated the Republican candidate, Richard David.

State Assembly Races

All 150 seats in the New York State Assembly were up for election this year and heading into Election Day, there was an assumption that the veto-proof majority for the Assembly Democrats would not be in question. While it looks like this will remain true, the margin of this veto-proof majority has been decreased to a level most were not expecting. Currently, Democrats hold 107 seats in the Assembly, and need 99 seats to maintain their veto-proof majority. While the idea of a significant swing in power based on the defeat of eight incumbent Democrats in the Assembly seemed virtually impossible, pending results show that there is a chance it could happen. While this chance is slight, the final results will certainly bring the Assembly Democrats much closer to their needed number to maintain the veto-proof majority.

Based on the election night results, these are the seats we are watching in the Assembly:

  • District 4:  Assemblymember Steve Englebright is behind Republican challenger Edward Flood.
  • District 11: Assemblymember Kimberly Jean-Pierre has a slim margin ahead of Republican challenger Christopher Sperber.
  • District 21: Assemblymember Judy Griffin is behind Republican challenger Brain Curran.
  • District 23: Assemblymember Stacey Pheffer-Amato is behind Republican challenger Thomas P. Sullivan.
  • District 45: Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz is behind Republican challenger Michael Novakhov.
  • District 46: Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus is behind Republican Alec Brook-Krasny.
  • District 49: Assemblymember Peter Abbate is behind Republican Lester Chang.
  • District 90: Assemblymember Nader Sayegh has a slim margin ahead of Republican Michael Breen.

Besides the close races for these incumbents, we also saw the 63rd District seat, previously held by the retiring Assembly Energy Chair Mike Cusick, change hands with the defeat of Democrat Vincent Argenziano by Republican Sam Pirozzolo. The final results for these seats will come down to the absentee ballot count, which will start soon and we will not likely have final results for some time.

It is important to note that all of these results will impact the committee chairs in both the Senate and Assembly next year. In the Senate, the defeat of Senators Brooks, Kaplan, and Reichlin-Melnik means we will have new chairs for the Veterans, Homeland Security & Military Affairs Committee, the Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business Committee, and the Procurement and Contracts Committee. Additionally, there will be new chairs for the Environmental and Local Governments Committees based on the fact that the chairs of these committees did not seek reelection. As new Senators are elevated to take over as committee chairs, other committee chair positions will open up as well in what is called churn in Albany. 

In the Assembly, if these initial results held, we would see new committee chairs for the Environmental Conservation Committee, Housing Committee, and the Governmental Employees Committee. This is in addition to new chairs for the Energy Committee, Health Committee, and the Real Property Taxation Committee, where the current chairs did not seek reelection. Further, the Insurance Committee and People with Disabilities Committee will also need new chairs because the current chairs were defeated in their Primary Election bids. As with the Senate, we will see a lot of churn in the Assembly.

Federal Races

Senator Charles Schumer successfully secured his fifth term in the Senate, beating Republican challenger Joe Pinion. In addition, New Yorkers voted on all 26 of the state’s House of Representatives seats, after losing one seat in the redistricting process. The outcome of several of these races will also come down to the absentee count, but it appears New York Republicans have picked up a few seats in the House of Representatives, which has national implications. What is interesting is that at the national level, it was anticipated that the Republicans would easily take control of the U.S. House of Representatives. This did not happen, and control of the House will come down to a handful of key races, and in a scenario that seemed impossible before Tuesday, several of those key races are in New York. Perhaps the most shocking result is the defeat of incumbent Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, who has conceded his race to Republican challenger Michael Lawler. Congressman Maloney is the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is charged with electing Democrats across the country. It was assumed he would be in a safe seat and an easy win for the Congressional Democrats. The Republicans are also poised to pick up two seats on Long Island, in the Hudson Valley, and one in Syracuse.   

Statewide Ballot Initiative

Voters passed the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022 (the “Bond Act”), that allocates $4.2 billon toward environmental projects. The Bond Act will be allocated as follows:

  • $1.5 billion in climate change mitigation, including funding for zero emission school buses and the training required to enable the current workforce to repair such buses;
  • $1.1 billion to reduce flooding risk and improve restoration after floods;
  • $650 million for land conservation;
  • $650 million to improve the State’s water quality and resiliency infrastructure; and
  • $300 million in unallocated funds.

We will continue to monitor the election results and keep you informed when there are any updates. send. As always, if you have any questions, please reach out to a member of our Government Affairs practice group for assistance:

Amy J. Kellogg
John M. Jennings
Caitlin A. Anderson

Attorney Advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. This publication is provided as a service to clients and friends of Harter Secrest & Emery LLP. It is intended for general information purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. The contents are neither an exhaustive discussion nor do they purport to cover all developments in the area. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how applicable laws relate to specific situations. ©2022 Harter Secrest & Emery LLP