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Democrat declared winner in special State Senate race

ALBANY – Democrats now have a numerical edge in the State Senate after election officials on Monday declared a Democratic candidate has won a special election contest for a Senate seat in Nassau County.

But Republicans, barring a huge political surprise in a town growing accustomed to political surprises, for the time being will keep their control of the Senate following the victory by Todd Kaminsky, thanks to alliances they have formed with several breakaway Democrats.

Kaminsky, a freshman member of the Assembly, officially won the April 19 special election contest for the Senate 9th District against Republican Chris McGrath by 886 votes, the Nassau County elections board said Monday. Before a count of paper ballots over the past week, Kaminsky was up by 780 votes according to the machine tally on election night.

Kaminsky takes over the seat held by former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos until he was automatically expelled from office following his felony corruption conviction in December.

Senate Republicans had no immediate comment.

Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who represents Westchester County, noted Monday that the voters in the Nassau County district have been without a representative in the Senate for nearly five months. “It’s time to move forward and get down to doing the people’s work,” she said in a statement.

Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor who ran the case that put former Sen. Pedro Espada, D-Bronx, behind bars, on Monday said his top priority will be “fighting corruption so that taxpayers come first,” which he said will include a push to ban outside income for lawmakers and closing a loophole that allows limited liability corporations to get around state campaign donation limits.

Kaminsky, who got last-minute robo call help during the campaign from President Obama, gives Democrats 32 seats in the 63-member chamber. But Senate Republicans have a Brooklyn Democrat, Simcha Felder, who conferences with them and they have had an alliance with a five-member group of Democrats called the Independent Democratic Conference. There had been little doubt that Kaminsky won two weeks ago, given his lead in the machine tally and the number of outstanding paper ballots; Republicans insisted all votes needed to be counted before a victor could be declared.

The Senate returns to Albany Tuesday following a couple weeks off, and Kaminsky is expected to take his seat when session begins in the afternoon. The seat, along with the rest of those in the Assembly and Senate, goes back before voters in the November general election.

email: tprecious@buffnews.com