Most of the candidates who ran for office in New York on a platform opposed to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) were soundly defeated at the polls on Tuesday, but it was unclear if Republicans would maintain control of the state Senate with two races too close to call.
In the election for the New York State Assembly, Republicans Claudia Tenney and Bill Nojay were reelected and defeated Democrats Daniel Carter and Randolph Weaver, respectively, for the 101st and 133rd district seats. Meanwhile, in the 102nd district, Republican Peter Lopez defeated Democrat James Miller for the seat being vacated by Assemblyman Joel Miller.
Four more Republican incumbents — Assemblymen William Barclay (120th district), Cliff Crouch (122nd district), Gary Finch (126th district) and Phil Palmesano (132nd district) — were unopposed.
The state Senate races saw a similar outcome, with Republican incumbent Sens. James Seward (51st district) and Tom Libous (52nd district) defeating Democratic challenges by Howard Leib and John Orzel, respectively. Three additional Republican incumbents — Sens. John Bonacic (42nd district), Tom O’Mara (58th district) and Catherine Young (57th district) — were also unopposed.
In the race for the 22nd Congressional District, Republican incumbent Richard Hanna beat Democrat Dan Lamb. It was a similar story in the 23rd Congressional District, where another Republican incumbent, Tom Reed, bested Democratic challenger Nate Shinagawa. Both districts had been redrawn and were occupied by Democrats not seeking reelection.
All of the winners had been endorsed by the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY) for their support of allowing fracking to be performed in the Empire State (see Shale Daily, Nov. 5).
“The elections are finally over, and the results are in: anti-gas activists lost,” JLCNY President Dan Fitzsimmons said. “We hope this clear mandate from the people speaks loudly and clearly to Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo: We want what’s best for upstate New York, and that is safe, responsible natural gas development, which will help clean the air, provide jobs and restore our communities.”
Despite the losses, groups opposed to fracking in New York sounded defiant.
“All these election results mean is that big money is still a big factor in our electoral process,” Sue Rapp, a member of Vestal Residents for Safe Energy, told the Associated Press. “We believe that the majority of residents understand that we are not ready for fracking anywhere in New York State.”
On the local level, Broome County Executive Debbie Preston, a Republican and a supporter of natural gas development, defeated Democrat and anti-fracking activist Tarik Abdelazim.
“Yesterday the people spoke, and I’m honored and humbled by the results,” Preston said in a written statement Wednesday. Although she didn’t specifically mention shale gas development, she did say “together we will build the Broome County of tomorrow…a county where the innovation our county was built on meets the technology of the 21st Century.”
But Tuesday’s returns weren’t a clean sweep by supporters of shale gas development. In the race for the U.S. Senate, Republican Wendy Long was soundly defeated by Democratic incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillebrand.
In the State Assembly races, three Republicans — Gary Linton, Levi Spires and Julie Lewis — were unsuccessful in their attempts to unseat Democratic incumbents in the 100th, 121st and 123rd districts, respectively. The incumbents were Aileen Gunther, Bill Magee and Donna Lupardo.
Republicans’ slim control of the state Senate also appeared to be in jeopardy, with incumbent Republican Sen. Steve Saland trailing Democrat Terry Gipson in the 41st district, and Republican George Amedore Jr. trailing Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk in the 46th. Media reports said it could take weeks for the contests to be decided as election officials count thousands of absentee and affidavit ballots.
Going into Tuesday’s election, Republicans held a four-seat advantage in the state Senate, 33-29. Assuming both Amedore and Saland go on to lose, the chamber would be faced with a 31-31 tie. If that happens the president of the Senate, an ex officio post held by Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, a Democrat, would cast tie-breaking votes.
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