When the 2019 legislative session kicks off at the New York State Capitol on January 9, 2019, there will be many, many new faces. The 2018 elections resulted in an unusually high level of turnover in the Legislature. Of the 150 assemblymembers scheduled to take their seats this month, 22—or 15%—will be new members. In the 63-member Senate, a whopping 17 members—more than a quarter of the total—will be new.
In the State Senate, the turnover was caused by three factors. First, the eight Senate Democrats who had been members of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) all received primary challenges from left-wing Democrats unhappy with the IDC’s longtime alliance with Senate Republicans. Six of those eight Democrats were defeated in the primaries. Second, five incumbent Republicans opted not to seek re-election in 2018. Third, the Democrats enjoyed great success at the ballot box, defeating five incumbent Republican senators.
Overall, the new Democratic legislators will likely be more liberal, less beholden to traditional party networks, and less deferential to Gov. Andrew Cuomo than is typical in Albany. While this may be hard to believe, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms believes that the Legislature—partly because of the influence of the new members—may pressure Gov. Cuomo to move further to the political left in 2019 than he has ever gone before.