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Why is So Much Money Being Spent in NY State Senate Battle?

Illustration for article titled Why is So Much Money Being Spent in NY State Senate Battle?

That's a good question. Well, there's the post Citizens United world of mountains of corporate cash being shoveled around. There's also the fact that Albany has been thoroughly corrupt for longer than anyone alive on earth today can remember. Then there's the fact that 2015 is going to be absolutely brutal and there's fantastic sums of money on the line.

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Outside giving in this year's fight for control of the State Senate is setting the stage for two major battles in the upcoming 2015 legislative session: mayoral control of the New York City school system and the rent laws, both of which are set to expire next June.

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This why the NYC real estate tycoons and the hedge fund backed education "reformers" are pouring millions into the battle for the New York State Senate. The real estate people stand to make billions off killing or limiting rent control laws in NYC and the charter school charlatans are chomping at the bit at the prospect of putting an obscenely huge chunk of public education money in their pockets.

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The mostly upstate and suburban Senate Republicans don't give a crap about rent control but have always done the bidding of Big NYC Real Estate and have been eager accomplices for decades. They love all those big checks from your landlord.

The charter school scam is an even easier sell to them. They like it. The Governor likes it. And they're eager to deliver for the hedge fund vultures that just might save, or even strengthen, their grip on New York's upper chamber.

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But they've got a problem. They're fucking doomed and everybody knows it.

The 2016 elections will take place in a presidential year, which traditionally boosts turnout—not a benefit to Republicans in this Democrat-dominated state. And if hometown favorite Hillary Clinton is on the ballot, New York Democrats will likely show up at the polls in even higher numbers than usual.

Also problematic for the Senate G.O.P. is the fact that several of their older members are unlikely to run again, opening up still more competitive seats for which Democrats will certainly make a play.

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The Senate Republicans got lucky in 2010. After controlling the Senate for decades, they rode the Tea Party wave that swept state houses all over the country and won back control after a two year interruption. 2010 was a redistricting year and the Republicans, the majority of whom ran that year after signing Ed Koch's pledge to implement real, independent redistricting, gerrymandered the shit out of New York State. And Andrew Cuomo, after saying for two years that he wouldn't sign off on gerrymandered legislative maps, signed off on them anyway.

And even then, after puling every last gerrymandering trick in the book; stacking as many people as possible in urban districts, as few as possible in upstate and suburban ones, drawing crazy shaped districts in NYC and elsewhere to get every possible edge they could and massively outraising a NY DSCC that was deeply in debt...they lost in 2012.

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If it weren't for cutting a deal with some breakaway "Democrats" from the 'burbs and upstate, no one would remember who Dean Skelos even is.

And things are about to get worse. Republican control of the state Senate is an anomaly. New York State is 3/5 Democratic and growing more so every day. It's amazing that they've held on as long as they have, even if they've pulled every lever at their disposal to keep a hand on the wheel of one house of the legislature.

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And when they finally lose, and they will in 2016, if not before due to retirements and/or indictments, they're never coming back. Just ask the handful of Republicans in the Assembly.

So combine the fact that two extremely important laws, laws that have billions of dollars wrapped up in them, expire next year with the fact that Republican control of the state Senate is doomed and you get the players who stand to benefit the most from this confluence of events throwing enormous piles of money at maintaining Republican control long enough to get what they want.

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There's just too much damn money on the table and the clock, as they say, is ticking.

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(image via Crain's NY)

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