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Republicans watching Binghamton state Senate race

Ellen Abbott
New York state Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) at the annual senior fair he hosts at the state fairgrounds.

A recent poll shows the Republican candidate ahead in the all-important race for state Senate in the Binghamton area. Republicans across the state are keeping a close watch on a special election that could tip the scales of power in Albany.

The Time Warner Cable News/Sienna College poll shows 59 -percent of voters polled are ready to support Republican Fred Akshar, with only 31 percent prepared to vote for Democrat Barbara Fiala. That’s good news for Deputy Senate Majority Leader John DeFrancisco of Syracuse.

"As long as he continues to do what he’s doing and the people like his response on his issue, I think he’s going to be in good shape.”

DeFrancisco and other Republicans admit this race is of huge importance in order for the GOP to keep some semblance of power in a decidedly Democratic state.  And it’s not just about keeping their razor thin majority in place now. DeFrancisco notes that the last time Republicans lost control of the Senate was during a presidential election year, in 2008. And that’s what all state lawmakers will face next year.  

"If we start showing that we’re in trouble in a special election upstate, then that could really motivate people to ruin our majority,” said DeFrancisco.

The 52nd District became open after former Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous resigned over the summer, after he was convicted of lying to the FBI. The seats been in republican hands for 100 years.

But the race has been focused on issues, like hydrofracking. Many residents support fracking, which was recently banned by the Cuomo administration. Fiala, the former state Department of Motor Vehicles commissioner, has support from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. And while the governor’s deep campaign chest could help her, Defrancisco says Cuomo’s name could also work against her.

"It seems like every issue that’s important to the citizens down there, it seems like the govern was on the other side  So I don’t think it helped Fiala at all.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.