Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson, D-Brooklyn, today was buoyed by the gains Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer, D-Mamaroneck, Westchester County, was making the count against Republican challenger Bob Cohen.
“The opposition was very gung-ho in trying to unseat her, but once all the ballots are in, she will be victorious,” Sampson predicted in an interview this afternoon.
Control of the Senate hinges on the three close races in Buffalo and on Long Island, as well as the Oppenheimer-Cohen race. The candidates in all those races are separated by several hundred votes. Sen. Antoine Thompson, D-Buffalo, is trailing Mark Grisanti by 598 votes. Sen. Craig Johnson trails his GOP rival Jack Martins by 419 votes.
Sampson said he was confident the leads for Oppenheimer would hold and Thompson and Johnson would make up the deficit.
“I’m more than confident that we’ll make up the difference in the absentee ballots,” Sampson said.
He added that the Democrats are pouring enough resources into the court battle in the Buffalo race.
“We basically put together one of the largest voter-protection efforts to make sure that every ballot is counted,” he said.
As to his future as the leader of the majority or the new minority Democrats, Sampson said he had the backing of the members of his conference.
“I am the leader, I have widespread support in the conference and right now my focus is making sure that I not only fight for my members but for needed changes for all New Yorkers,” he said.
He also dismissed fellow Democrat Gov. David Paterson’s prediction that the Senate would flip to the GOP, saying that he wasn’t going to deal with predictions.
Sampson declined to say whether the fallout from Inspector General Joseph Fisch’s scathing pre-Election Day report on Democratic leaders allegedly rigging a bidding process for a favored company had an impact. Sampson, along with other Senate Democratic leaders, was implicated in the report.
“I’m not here to talk about that, my focus is on making sure there is adequate voter protection and that I pull for my members,” he said.