State Senate Democrats debt-free as they prepare for fall elections
New York Daily News
Monday, January 13, 2014
By Kenneth Lovett
Sen. Michael Gianaris announced that the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has paid off $3.1 million in the last three years, but Republicans still have a financial advantage ahead of the battle to control the chamber.
ALBANY — State Senate Democrats head into this year’s crucial fight for control of the chamber debt-free for the first time in three years.
The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee will report this week that over the past six months, it paid off the remaining $665,000 of what had been a $3.1 million debt in January 2011, said Sen. Michael Gianaris, the Queens Democrat who heads the committee.
While the Dems will report having just a few thousand dollars on hand, anything raised moving forward can go toward elections this fall. Although there are more Democrats than Republicans, the chamber is controlled by the GOP and five dissident Dems under an unprecedented power-sharing agreement.
“We managed to win four seats in 2012 with the debt still hanging over our heads,” Gianaris (pictured) said. “While we had success with one hand tied behind our back, we’re feeling great about 2014, now that our financial house is in order.”
The Democrats have a major enrollment advantage in the state. But financially, they are significantly behind the Senate Republicans, who in July were debt free and counted more than $2 million in the bank.
The Democrats are buoyed by the fact at least two Long Island seats held by Republicans will be up for grabs. There’s also talk that Sen. Greg Ball, a Republican, may give up his seat to run for Putnam County executive.
Senate Republicans acknowledge the departures on Long Island mean that they will have to spend more to defend two seats they felt were secure, but say they feel comfortable they can do it.
Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif ripped the Dems for a record of scandal, dysfunction and tax increases while they were in charge of the chamber in 2009 and 2010.
“Nobody wants to go back to that,” Reif said.
He also cited Republican gains in many local races last year as a positive sign for the party.
Even if the Democrats pick up seats, there is no guarantee it will be enough to wrest control of the chamber from the GOP-breakaway Dem coalition.