By Joe Spector, Gannett Albany Bureau Chief
ALBANY, N.Y. - Senate Democrats said Wednesday morning they have the 32 votes needed to reclaim the majority, saying they picked up the three seats needed to regain power.
Sen. Michael Gianaris, D-Queens, told Gannett's Albany Bureau that Democrats did what they needed to do: They held two contested seats and won three additional seats, giving them 32 votes. Thirty-two votes are needed to win the majority in the 63-seat chamber.
Republicans held a 33-29 seat majority heading into Tuesday's election. Republicans regained the majority in 2010, after Democrats won the majority in 2008.
At this point, Gianaris is banking on Brooklyn Democrat Simcha Felder, who won Tuesday night, to caucus with the Democrats, although he hasn't said what he will do. He told the New York Post this week that, "I would caucus with any party that will allow me to deliver the most to the 17th Senate district and its constituents."
And he's counting on a win by Democrat Terry Gipson, who was up 1,600 votes over Sen. Stephen Saland, R-Poughkeepsie. There were at least 7,000 absentee ballots to be counted.
The third seat that was needed was secured: Democrat Ted O'Brien won easily in an open Monroe County seat.
There's another undecided seat that Democrats and Republicans are battling over: Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk had a narrow 139-vote lead over Republican George Amedore in a district that stretches across the Albany area and into the Hudson Valley. There are thousands of absentee ballots there.
"Right now, we have 32 registered Democrats who got elected. We think we are going to get to 33," Gianaris said.
Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, said he was still hopeful Republicans would win the close races and that Felder would sit with them.
"We're going to retain the majority. I really do believe that," Libous said on Talk 1300-AM.
On Long Island, Republican incumbent Kemp Hannon appeared to claim victory after all the voting machines were counted, besting Democrat Ryan Cronin by 4,743 votes.
In the Hudson Valley, Croton-on-Hudson Democrat Justin Wagner declined to concede to Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County. Ball held a 3,949-vote lead with 30 districts in Westchester County yet to be counted. Ball claimed victory.
"The race is too close to call," Wagner campaign manager Steve Napier said in a statement early Wednesday. "While all of the traditionally high-performing Republican areas have been fully counted, results in much of the traditionally Democratic areas of Westchester County have yet to be reported."