2020 Set To Churn State Senate

The year 2020 is a presidential election year, but it’s also much more. This fall, elections will be held in New York for all seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and all seats in the New York State Legislature.

The composition of the State Senate will be changing dramatically following this fall’s elections. So far, two Republican senators have retired and five others have announced that they will not seek re-election. Here is a summary of the status of this fall’s State Senate races thus far.

  • Sen. Bob Antonacci (R-Syracuse). Sen. Antonacci resigned from the Senate at the end of the year to take a job as a state trial court judge. He served in the Senate for one year. A spring special election in this district is anticipated. Democrat John Mannion, who ran a strong campaign in 2018, plans to run for Senate again in District 50 and would figure to have an advantage over the eventual Republican candidate due to his name recognition.
  • Sen. George Amedore (R-Rotterdam). Sen. Amedore has represented Senate District 46 in the greater Capital District since 2015. He previously represented Assembly District 105 from 2007 to 2013. Sen. Amedore, 50, is Vice President of Amedore Homes, a family-owned business. While the Senator has not stated this publicly, it is possible that the ongoing litigation concerning limits on legislators’ outside employment played a role in his decision. Democrat Michelle Hinchey, daughter of the late U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, is seeking the Democratic nomination in this district, as is child victims advocate Gary Greenberg. The 2020 race in this swing district could be a close one.
  • Sen. Rich Funke (R-Perinton). Sen. Funke, 70, has served in the Senate since 2015 in District 55. Democrats have an advantage this fall in this Democratic-majority district in the Rochester area.
  • Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury). Sen. Little, 79, has represented Senate District 45 since 2003. Asm. Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) has announced his candidacy for this North Country seat and would appear to be the favorite this fall.
  • Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer (R-Amherst). Sen. Ranzenhofer, 65, has represented Senate District 61 since 2009. The race to succeed him could be highly competitive in this Democrat-leaning district in Western New York.
  • Sen. Joe Robach (R-Greece). Sen. Robach, 61, has represented Senate District 56 since 2003. Democrats have a large voter enrollment advantage in this Rochester-area district.
  • Sen. Cathy Young (R-Olean) resigned from the Senate in March 2019 to take another position. Sen. George Borrello (R-Irving) won a special election to replace her in Senate District 57 and is the favorite to retain this Republican-majority district in Western New York.

There could be even more retirement announcements coming. Sens. Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo) and Rob Ortt (R-North Tonawanda) are both running for Congress in a crowded field of Republican candidates in New York’s 27th congressional district. Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), 80, is the longest-serving member of the New York State Senate and the eldest member of the Senate Republican Conference. He has served in the Senate since 1976. Sen. James Seward (R-Oneonta), 68, is battling health issues.

On the Democratic side, Sen. David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) has announced his congressional bid this fall. If his campaign gains traction, he may not seek re-election.

While the many Senate Republican retirements represent challenges for New York, there is a positive side to them: This could prompt the party to look for fresh, vibrant conservative candidates.