Progressive Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk has been elected to the New York State Senate over former Assemblyman George Amedore (R), after a successful court challenge led to the counting of 99 previously uncounted ballots from the November elections. Amedore, a wealthy real estate developer, saw his 37 vote lead become a 19 vote loss as the ballots were counted Thursday and Friday.
Tkaczyk ran a strongly progressive campaign in the Albany-area district, emphasizing her support for public education, LGBT equality, equal pay for women, reproductive choice, environmental protection, and campaign finance reform. Though she was heavily outspent by Amedore, she benefited from outside spending by supporters of public financing for candidates. In a December op/ed, she observed: “If I do get sworn in, I’ll know my support for public financing is a central reason I won the job.”
Amedore, on the other hand, was a strong conservative who opposed marriage equality, abortion rights, equal pay for women, and increasing the minimum wage. He consistently opposed campaign finance reform as an Assemblyman and attacked the idea of public financing of campaigns.
A coalition of Republicans and Independent Democrats share power and jointly control the 63-member Senate. But with Tkaczyk’s newly-determined victory, Republican Conference Leader Dean Skelos will have a minority of seats — strengthening both the influence of the five-member Independent Democratic Conference and the likelihood of progressive legislation passing the body. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver are both Democrats.
The legislature is expected to take up campaign finance reform this session. LGBT advocates are also hopeful that the long-delayed Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act will finally be enacted to provide employment protections for transgender New Yorkers.