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Seward re-elected, but GOP falters

Democrats take control of state Senate

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Donald Yager of Homer casts his ballot at the Homer Comunity Building polling place Tuesday.

Incumbent Republican Sen. James L. Seward was elected to his 17th term in the state Senate on Tuesday, defeating Democrat Joyce St. George in the 51st Senate District — but it’s not the job it used to be.

Democrats have taken control in the state Senate, according to complete but unofficial election results. The party now holds a projected 40 seats to the Republicans’ 23 seats.

This change has practical effects to how Seward (R-Milford) will do his job. He’ll no longer be a committee chairman, he said this morning.

In particular, said Seward spokesman Jeff Bishop, the Republicans’ program development committee, which he chairs, will lose the authority it had when the Republicans had the majority.

However, that won’t change the way he plans to represent his constituents. “I am very accustomed and comfortable to reaching across the aisle,” Seward said about working with the Democratic majority.

“It’s going to be tougher,” he said.

Seward won with 63,003 votes to St. George’s 34,809 votes, according to unofficial results from the state Board of Elections. In Cortland County, Seward took 9,908 votes to St. George’s 5,431 votes.

“I am thrilled and humbled with the victory and look forward to continuing the strong partnerships I have developed with the people of the 51st Senate District, ensuring our needs, our views, and our values are well represented in Albany,” Seward said in a news release following the early results Tuesday night.

Seward was first elected to the state Senate in 1986. He originally represented the 50th District before a redistricting changed it to the 51st District.

Seward was running with endorsements from the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Reform parties.

The 51st Senate District includes all or parts of Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Herkimer, Otsego, Schoharie, Tompkins and Ulster counties.

During his campaign, Seward said he wants to reduce taxes and regulations to lead to economic growth. “I have advocated for tax cuts, an end to unnecessary government regulations and lower energy costs help our businesses expand and ensure desired job opportunities are available,” he has said. “I have strong partnerships with local businesses, economic leaders and schools, and I am working to bring these forces together to enhance work force training initiatives to meet changing needs.”

During 2018, Seward helped secure funding — $54.4 million, $13 million above Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal — to support agriculture programs.

People are leaving New York, Seward said, but better jobs and opportunities will help reverse the trend, along with making the state more affordable, Seward has said. “This year, I blocked $20 billion in taxes from the governor and Assembly and I will continue to fight for fiscal restraint,” Seward has written. “A full state takeover of Medicaid costs, an increase in the STAR property tax credit, lower energy taxes, and affordable health care are other initiatives I back.”

St. George could not be reached this morning for comment.

St. George, who was running with endorsements from Democrat and Women’s Equalities parties, has not served in political office before.

St. George has sat as a chairwoman of a hospital; helped form a hospital system; worked with several schools on conflict resolution with students; and worked with FEMA to provide crisis services in Delaware and part of Ulster counties.

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