Responsible New York “responsible” for Senate victories

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Today's News Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Responsible for what?

Responsible New York, launched by Tom Golisano to influence state election results, says it made the difference in two races crucial to Democrats’ state Senate takeover. It spent $700,000 for Brian Foley on Long Island and Sen. Bill Stachowski in the Buffalo area. Both won, and Democrats emerged with a one-seat majority.

Golisano’s group supported Rick Dollinger against Sen. Joe Robach, David Nachbar against Sen. Jim Alesi, Kathy Konst against Sen. Dale Volker and Joe Mesi against Mike Ranzenhofer. The group says it made the races competitive, which ensures that both parties will help those communities. It vows to do the same in 2010.

There is something to be said for making races close. Legislators at risk tend to move to the political center and sometimes beyond it. Republican Nick Spano, struggling to keep his Senate seat in Yonkers several years ago, carried a bill expanding the minimum wage through his business-oriented chamber.

Close races also motivate sleepy legislators. After nearly losing to Republican Dennis Delano, a former Buffalo detective, Stachowski is likely to be far more visible in the next two years. A month before the election, a Siena poll showed Delano up by 13 points. Stachowski won by 4 points after Democratic leaders rushed resources to his campaign.

Incidentally, Stachowski will have to mend fences not only with disenchanted constituents but with Democratic colleagues. “There’s a lot of anger toward Stachowski that they had to spend any money on that race,” says an operative from the Democratic side.