Senate Dems declare supermajority

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins & Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris speak Monday afternoon during a press conference in the state Capitol to announce the state Senate Democrats have a supermajority in the Senate. They have a total of 42 seats, which allows them to override Gov. Cuomo's vetoes on legislation.

ALBANY — Democrats in the state Senate declared a supermajority Monday afternoon.

The supermajority gives Senate Democrats the power to override a veto from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat.

The victory comes as the party won an anticipated two additional seats in the Senate. In 2019, Democrats held 39 seats in the 63-seat chamber and in 2020 raised that number to 40. The party is expected to claim 42 seats for the 2021 legislative session, President Pro Tempore and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-35, said at the State Capitol on Monday.

“I am announcing that in 2021, we will begin our session with a historic supermajority,” Stewart-Cousins said. “It will also be the biggest Senate majority conference in the history of New York state. We defended seats downstate and we made incredible gains. We have flipped seats upstate and in Western New York.”

Among the seats flipped from Republican to Democrat was the 46th Senate District, which covers all of Greene and Montgomery counties, as well as parts of Schenectady, Albany and Ulster counties, where retiring state Sen. George Amedore Jr., a Republican, opted not to run for re-election.

Democrat Michelle Hinchey claimed victory in that race Friday afternoon, defeating Republican candidate Richard Amedure in a tight race.

“Our world has changed immensely since we started our campaign, but that didn’t stop voters from coming out in droves to make their voices for change heard,” Hinchey said in a statement Friday. “I decided to run for office to help make our upstate communities stronger for the future, and I am tremendously thankful for everyone in the 46th District who heard our message and put their faith in me to be a strong upstate voice in Albany.”

A handful of other races have not been called, including a competitive Westchester battle between Sen. Pete Harckham and former GOP county executive Rob Astorino. Astorino led by more than 8,000 votes on election night, but Harckham has gained ground as mail-in votes in Dutchess and Putmnam counties were counted. The race will be decided by an estimated 25,000 outstanding votes, which are expected to favor Harckham, according to Tribute News Service.

The Democratic majority in the state Senate over the past two years has taken on a slate of issues including gun-safety legislation, a permanent property tax cap, women’s rights, health care, investments in public education, climate change, affordable housing and the COVID-19 pandemic, among many others, Stewart-Cousins said Monday.

The election results indicate New Yorkers like the direction the state is moving in, she said.

“The numbers prove that after the most productive legislation session in history, New Yorkers have not only chosen to return a Democratic majority, but they chose to return a supermajority,” Stewart-Cousins said.

Some Republican candidates campaigned against the governor’s bail-reform legislation, which bars judges from setting bail for a majority of lesser criminal charges. Deputy Sen. Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, D-12, claimed voters rejected Republican messaging opposing bail reform.

“Every voter who voted in a state election knew that bail was an issue and they made their choice,” Gianaris said Monday. “They returned not just the number of Democrats we had, but even more to the Senate.

“The opponents of bail reform took their best shot and they failed miserably,” Gianaris added.

Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, R-62, said Republicans were competitive in races across the state and will continue to fight against “the radical agenda” of state Democrats.

“If New Yorkers thought One-Party Control was bad, more Democrats in the New York State Senate will usher in a new era of radical, increasingly socialist policies, unlike anything before seen in this state,” Ortt said in a statement Monday.

Ortt pledged to continue to battle Democrats on the issues to discourage New Yorkers from leaving the state.

“Our members will approach their responsibilities with even more resolve to fight against any policies that will make our state less safe and lead to more New Yorkers fleeing for better opportunities,” Ortt said. “We will continue our battle to make New York safer and more affordable and advance policies to help our economic recovery.”

Cuomo does not anticipate a situation where Senate officials will use their supermajority to gain the upper hand.

“The way the state government really works is through the budget,” Cuomo said Monday. “Supermajority or not doesn’t really make a difference. Senators are individuals — they’re not really a monolith or sheep. I don’t think there’s ever been a situation where I’ve disagreed with every Senate Democrat.”

Every part of the state is represented by a representative, and the governor represents all of New York, Cuomo said.

“I think this is much ado about nothing,” Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa added Monday. “We fundraised for them [Senate Democrats], we have personal relationships with many of them, we were thrilled. Many of these senators who we, at first, didn’t think were going to win have now pulled ahead, so this is great news.”

State reporter Kate Lisa contributed to this report.

Tribune News Service contributed to this report.

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