Assembly GOP gains seats, local members expect more clout

ALBANY - Republicans in the state Assembly picked up seven seats during this year's election, making a small but crucial dent in a legislative body long dominated by Democrats.

But with just 49 seats, Republicans remain two votes shy of breaking the Democratic stranglehold on veto overrides and other votes that require a two-thirds majority.

Now, Republicans are hoping that two unresolved races swing their way and give them instant influence in the chamber.

Fresh off his unanimous re-election as Assembly Minority Leader, Brian Kolb told Susan Arbetter of the Capitol Press Room Tuesday that the amount of influence the G.O.P. will wield in the Assembly has yet to be decided.

"In terms of our total head count, it's going to be somewhere between 49 and 51 members. If we get to 51, that breaks the supermajority, which I think is good for public policy. It adds more divergent points of view in the committees and on the floor. I think it's all good."

Republicans are feeling confident about the currently too-close-to-call re-election bid of Westchester's Bob Castelli. The GOP incumbent currently leads his Democratic challenger Tom Roach by over 100 votes.

In the 100th Assembly District, Democratic incumbent Frank Skartados leads Republican Tom Kirwin by about 300 votes. Republicans see Kirwin's race as the deciding factor as to whether or not they breach the Democratic domination of the floor.

But either way, Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward said because of the big Republican gains in Assembly elections, the GOP is likely to possess significantly more influence in the coming session.

"In order to fit all of our new members in, the Speaker is going to have to shuffle his committees around," she said. "Democrats will be pulled off of committees they have sat on before and that's not going to sit too well."

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