With Democrats poised to retake the New York State Senate, the key swing vote in the divided chamber, Sen. Simcha Felder, appears to have lost all his leverage.
Republicans had controlled the Senate by one vote thanks to the support of Felder, a registered Democrat who tended to vote with Republicans. But the liberal party picked up multiple seats on Tuesday, meaning that Felder, who represents the heavily-Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhood of Boro Park, will no longer have the power to shape important pieces of legislation to favor his community, as when he held up earlier this year until Governor Andrew Cuomo agreed to soften government oversight of yeshiva schools.
Cuomo had warned Felder of this possibility. “Let me say that the Democratic Conference will not need you in November the way they need you now,” Cuomo wrote to Felder in an open letter published in April, urging him (unsuccessfully) to rejoin the Democratic caucus. “I believe there will be additional Democrats who win and are seated for the next legislature. You have said that you act in the best interest of your constituents. For their benefit, now is the time that matters.”
The capture of the Senate means that the Democratic Party controls the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the legislature, easing Cuomo’s path to pass more laws as he contemplates a run for president in 2020.
Julia Salazar, the social justice organizer who defeated an incumbent in her Brooklyn Democratic primary despite criticism within segments of the Jewish community over numerous inconsistencies in her biography, also cruised to victory.