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Coverage from WRVO Public Media on the 2015 election including: races in Syracuse and other parts of central New York, the Southern Tier, Watertown and the North Country, and more.Listen to WRVO online, or catch up on regional political news and more by following the WRVO news department on Twitter.

Tuesday's election results a mixed bag for major parties

Karen DeWitt
WRVO News (file photo)


Republicans and Democrats in the New York state Senate both have victories to point to in last night’s election results.  

Following a landslide win, former Broome County Sheriff’s Deputy Fred Akshar became one of the two newest members of the State Senate.

The Democratic candidate favored by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former Broome County Executive and state Motor Vehicles Commissioner Barbara Fiala, trailed in the race by more than 50 points. Cuomo, after an initial endorsement, did not help Fiala with any significant money or workers for her campaign .  

New York State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox, said just Cuomo’s imprint on Fiala doomed her campaign.

“This is huge,” Cox said. “This is against Cuomo’s handpicked candidate.”

Cox said there is lingering resentment in the Southern Tier district over the governor’s decision to ban hydrofracking of natural gas, as well as stricter gun control laws and an overall sour economy.

And, the GOP chairman said he sees tea leaves for political races beyond next year’s Senate races.

"This is really, to me, a canary in the coal mine for Gov. Cuomo for 2018,” Cox said. “He’s in deep trouble. His polls show it. He cannot get his job approval numbers over 40 percent in poll after poll now, no matter how hard he tries.”

Cuomo is unpopular in the Southern Tier,  though he is better liked in many other parts of the state, including New York City where most of his base supporters reside.

Democrats did win some key races, including the Nassau County district attorney’s seat and the Erie County executive.

Democratic Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said the Southern Tier race was in a heavily Republican district and probably was not winnable for Democrats anyway.

“It’s been in the Republican hands for over 100 years,” Cousins said. “We understood it was a very, very steep hill to climb.”

She said in the open Senate seat in Brooklyn, where Democrats dominate the electorate, Democrat Roxanne Persaud won.

Both of the Senate seats were vacant because both of their former occupants were forced to leave after being convicted of felony corruption charges.

John Sampson, a former Senate leader, held the Brooklyn seat until he was convicted of obstruction of justice for trying to prevent a federal inquiry. That probe was looking into charges that he embezzled funds he oversaw as a part of mortgage foreclosures and then tried to use the profits to finance a run for district attorney.

Binghamton Senator Tom Libous was the Deputy Majority Leader until he was convicted of lying to the FBI about trying to get special employment and other privileges for his son.

In addition, the former speaker of the assembly is in court facing federal corruption charges and the most recent leader of the Senate, Dean Skelos, goes on trial November 16 in federal court on charges that he monetized his office to get a job and other favors for his own son.  

Stewart-Cousins said the two newest senators, as well as the rest of the Senate, will have to do more to win back the public’s trust.

“We understand that people expect us to operate on a level that does not compromise their faith and trust in us,” she said.

Senate Democrats back a bill to limit lawmaker’s outside income to just $12,000 a year, while raising salaries in compensation.

Cousins said perhaps there will be more impetus in 2016 to make those changes.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.