Control of the state Senate will be decided tonight as Republicans seek to retain their majority, and Democrats hope to regain the power they lost two years ago.
Voters will also choose candidates in 27 U.S. House races and decide whether to give U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a full six-year term.
A Siena College poll on Oct. 26 showed Gillibrand with a 67 percent to 24 percent lead over Republican Wendy Long.
Eight of the state’s 29 U.S. House members are Republicans, but New York is losing two seats because of redistricting.
Democrats have to retain two competitive seats and win three additional seats to regain the state Senate majority. Republicans hold a 33-29 seat majority.
The two seats Democrats have to hold are Sen. Joseph Addabbo, D-Queens, and the seat in Westchester being vacated by Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer, D-Mamaroneck, Westchester County.
Here’s the key races tonight for control of the state Senate:
- 15th Senate District: Addabbo is up against Republican Eric Ulrich, a city councilman. Both sides have spent heavily in the district, which stretches across Queens and into parts of the Rockaways, which was heavily hit by the storm and thus leaves turnout uncertain.
- 37th Senate District: The race for Oppenheimer’s seat is expected to be close, especially after Superstorm Sandy will make it difficult for some residents still without power to get to the polls. Democrat George Latimer, an assemblyman from Rye, is up against Republican Bob Cohen. Cohen narrowly lost to Oppenheimer two years ago. Siena polled the race once and showed Latimer with a 3-percentage-point lead, but couldn’t poll the race again because of Sandy.
- 40th Senate District: Republicans and Democrats have both spent significant sums in this Hudson Valley race. Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County, is seeking a second term after serving in the area as an assemblyman. Democrats are hoping to be competitive in the overlooked race with Democrat Justin Wagner, a local attorney.
- 41st Senate District: This is a three-way race, so in a presidential year after a major storm, it could be close. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is backing Republican Sen. Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie, in large part because of his support for same-sex marriage. The marriage vote has been heavily criticized by Conservative candidate Neil Di Carlo, while Democrat Terry Gipson has the advantage of more enrolled Democrats than Republicans in the district that runs through Dutchess and Putnam counties.
- 46rd Senate District: This is a seat created by Senate Republicans in redistricting this year, and it was supposed to be safe. A Siena poll last week showed it very competitive. Republican George Amedore, an assemblyman, is running against Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk in a sprawling district that runs from the Albany area to Ulster County. The Siena poll showed Amedore with a three-percentage-point lead.
- 55th Senate District: This is one the key open seats that both parties want. Sen. James Alesi, R-Perinton, Monroe County, is retiring after holding the seat since 1996. Democrat Ted O’Brien was down 9 percentage points to Republican Sean Hanna in an early October poll by Siena, then O’Brien had a surprising 11-point lead last week in a Siena poll. Republicans thought the numbers were inaccurate, but Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, admitted they had ground to make up.