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With Democrats grabbing a majority in the State Senate for the first time since the 1960s, most Brooklyn legislators are jubilant.
One with a different perspective on the seismic shift in the legislative body is likely to be State Senator Marty Golden, the lone Republican in the borough’s delegation.
What does it mean for his ability to bring home the bacon? While Golden, during his State Senate tenure, has brought back the equivalent of a whole hog to the 22nd S.D., the shift to minority status may signal a sea change in terms of largesse.
Golden, “Will not be able to deliver all the things he’s been able to deliver in the past,” noted one Democrat familiar with the Senate.
A local Democratic insider agreed. “Marty buys ambulances and funds projects for millions of dollars,” the source noted. “That’s all going to stop.”
On the other hand, most of the borough will benefit from the shift. “Nine senators represent Brooklyn, and eight are going to the majority,” noted State Senator Kevin Parker, who is minority whip for the Democrats and is likely to ascend .to the majority whip position.
“That’s eight people who can run committees instead of two (State Senator Carl Kruger, a Democrat, was given a chairmanship by the Republicans),” Parker went on, “It’s going to mean a significant increase in resources and authority for the people of Brooklyn. We have a lot of people who are going to have the ability to do things that haven’t ever been done in Brooklyn. It’s going to be a big thing for the political voice of Brooklyn in Albany, and also for the ability to deliver resources even in tough fiscal times.”
That being said, Parker opined that, despite likely cuts in member items, the residents in Golden’s district will still benefit, overall. “People in New York City don’t just live in the district,” he stressed. “They live in the city. We are talking about the empowerment of 20 senators, including the Senate majority leader. People living in the city will be the beneficiaries of all the goods and services we will be able to provide.”
One question is whether Golden will still be seen as unbeatable — a state of affairs that has led to him running unopposed in the past two elections. While he is extremely popular is his peculiarly shaped district — that runs from Bay Ridge through Bensonhurst and Gravesend to Gerritsen Beach and Marine Park — Democrats say they intend to challenge him in 2010.
“I definitely want to go for that seat and I think a lot of other Democrats do too,” said Kevin Carroll, president of Brooklyn Democrats for Change. “There are a lot of talented people who could run against him.”
Even if his opponent loses, as long as the Democrats maintain their hold on the Senate, there’s a strong possibility that the district will be redrawn after the 2010 Census, making it more competitive for Dems.
Senate districts are drawn to include an average of approximately 306,000 people. But, Parker pointed out that, as the lines have been drawn in the past by the GOP-dominated Senate, Republican-held districts were overwhelmingly lower in population than Democratic-held districts. “We expect to be able to address the historical inequities,” Parker noted.
“His (Golden’s) district is so gerrymandered that it seems like a candidate for redistricting,” added one Democratic onlooker.
One local pundit predicted that the district would be redrawn with Gravesend, Bath Beach, Dyker Heights, Fort Hamilton, Bay Ridge and Sunset Park. “That doesn’t guarantee a Democratic victory,” the source emphasized. “It does guarantee a fair fight.”
“I expect the lines will be drawn to be more fair to Democrats across the state, including Marty Golden’s district,” added the Senate source.
Democratic District Leader Ralph Perfetto said that taking the seat from Golden would be a challenge. “If Democrats think they are going to go in and sweep that seat, they are going to have an uphill battle,” he predicted, stressing, “Marty Golden is well liked. I don’t think he’ll be able to bring back what he did before, but he’ll bring back enough.”
Craig Eaton, the chair of the Brooklyn GOP, concurred. “Marty is one of the most hard-working and energetic public servants I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with,” he noted. “No matter who they put up against him in 2010, he’ll be victorious. What he does for the community is extraordinary. Having a Democratic majority will affect him but, with his popularity among his colleagues, I’m sure he will have the success he had in the past continue.”
Eaton said he was “confident” that the state GOP could rebuild by 2010. “This was a wake-up call,” he said. “The Republican Party at the state level is already looking at candidates for governor. We will ensure that we have very well-qualified candidates and very competitive races in 2010 that will allow us to take back State Senate seats and take back the majority.”
One Republican source said that a waiting game, to see whether, after 2010, the Senate remains Democratic. With former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani at the top of the ticket as a gubernatorial candidate, and strong Senate candidates, the pundit contended that the GOP could retake the Senate if everything “broke right.
“Everything is on hold, so Marty toughs it out for two years,” the source went on. “If he’s still in the minority after 2010, then he’s got a big decision to make, but I think things are on hold till then.”
By press time, neither Golden nor a staffer had responded to requests for comment.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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