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The New York State Senate chamber.
The New York State Senate is one of two houses in the New York State Legislature and has members each elected to two-year terms. There are no limits on the number of terms one may serve. The New York Constitution provides for a varying number of members in the Senate; the current membership is 62, elected from single-member constituencies equal in population.


For more information, see 2009 New York State Senate leadership crisis
The Senate is headed by its President, a post held ex officio by the State Lieutenant Governor. The Lieutenant Governor also casts the deciding vote in the event of a tie. The Senate President has only a casting vote. More often, the Senate is presided over by the Temporary President, a post which is normally also held by the Majority Leader. After the 2008 elections, the Senate had a Democratic majority for the first time since 1965.

The Senate has one additional member outside those who are elected by the people: the Secretary of the New York State Senate is a post that is chosen by a majority vote of the senators, and does not have voting power (he is allowed, though officially discouraged, from discussing and negotiating legislative matters). The Secretary of the Senate is responsible for overseeing the handling of bills and the oversight of the sergeants-at-arms and the stenographer, both of which are answerable to the secretary. The position is currently held by Angelo Aponte, who was elected to a two-year term in January 2009.

Position Name Party District
President of the Senate/Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch Dem
Temporary President Malcolm Smith Dem 14
Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. Dem 33
Democratic Conference Leader John L. Sampson Dem 17
Minority Leader Dean Skelos Rep 9
Deputy Minority Leader Thomas W. Libous Rep 52

Full Majority leadership

  • Majority Leader: Sen. Pedro Espada
  • Democratic Conference Leader: Sen. John Sampson
  • Deputy Majority Leader for Legislative Affairs: Sen. Jeff Klein
  • Deputy Majority Leader for Intergovernmental Affairs: Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer
  • Deputy Majority Leader for Policy: Sen. Eric Schneiderman
  • Deputy Majority Leader for State/Federal Relations: VACANT
  • Senior Assistant Majority Leader: Sen. Martin Malave Dilan
  • Assistant Majority Leader for Conference Operations: Sen. Neil Breslin
  • Assistant Majority Leader for House Operations: Sen. William Stachowski
  • Democratic Conference Chairwoman: Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson
  • Democratic Program Development Committee Chairman: Sen. Tom Duane
  • Majority Whip: Sen. Antoine Thompson
  • Democratic Conference Vice Chairwoman: Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky
  • Democratic Conference Secretary: Sen. Jose Serrano
  • Democratic Steering Committee Chairwoman: Sen. Diane Savino
  • Assistant Majority Whip: Sen. Velmanette Montgomery
  • Vice President Pro Tempore: Sen. David Valesky

Full Minority leadership

  • Minority Leader: Sen. Dean Skelos
  • Deputy Minority Leader: Sen. Tom Libous
  • Assistant Minority Leader for Policy and Administration: Sen. Owen Johnson
  • Assistant Minority Leader for Floor Operations: Sen. Hugh Farley
  • Assistant Minority Leader for Intergovernmental Affairs: Sen. Vincent Leibell
  • Minority Republican Chairman: Sen. Kenneth LaValle
  • Minority Republican Vice Chairman: Sen. James Seward
  • Minority Republican Secretary: Sen. Kemp Hannon
  • Minority Whip: Sen. William Larkin
  • Deputy Minority Whip: Sen. Michael Nozzolio
  • Assistant Minority Whip: Sen. Stephen Saland
  • Minority Policy Committee Chairman: Sen. Thomas Morahan
  • Minority Program Development Committee Chairman: Sen. Betty Little

2008 elections and power struggle

For more information, see New York state elections, 2008
Democrats won 32 of 62 seats in New York's upper chamber in the 2008 General Election on November 4, capturing the majority for the first time in more than four decades. Although New York has turned almost solidly Democratic at most levels, Republicans were able to hold onto the State Senate for all but one year from 1939 to 2008 because its apportionment traditionally favors the Upstate, where Republicans dominated until very recently. While the Democrats hold all but three seats in New York City, they hold only five seats in the Upstate and two seats on Long Island.

However, a power struggle emerged before the new term began. Four Democratic senators—Rubén Díaz (Bronx), Carl Kruger (Brooklyn), and Senators-elect Pedro Espada (Bronx) and Hiram Monserrate (Queens)—immediately refused to caucus with their party. The self-named "Gang of Four" refused to back Malcolm Smith as the chamber's majority leader and sought concessions. Monserrate soon reached an agreement with Smith that reportedly included the chairmanship of the Consumer Affairs Committee. The remaining "Gang of Three" reached an initial compromise in early December that collapsed within a week, but was ultimately resolved with Smith becoming majority leader until early June, 2009, when two Democrats joined with Republicans to elect a new leadership for the New York State Senate, reaching a power-sharing deal under which Republicans became, again, technically the majority party.

Republican reclamation and ensuing dispute

Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Democratic Republican Vacant
End of previous legislature 29 31 60 2
Begin 32 30 62 0
June 8, 2009 30 2 30 62 0
June 15, 2009 31 1 30 62 0
July 9, 2009 32 30 62 0
Latest voting share 51.6% 48.4%

Though there are still 32 Democrats and 30 Republicans in the Senate, on June 8, 2009, elected by the people of New York, Senators Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens) and Pedro Espada, Jr. (D-Bronx)—who were part of what was described by the Associated Press as a "parliamentary coup"—allegedly voted with the 30 Republican members to install Senator Dean Skelos (R-Nassau) as the new majority leader of the Senate, replacing Senator Malcolm Smith (D-Queens).

The move came after Republican whip Tom Libous introduced a surprise resolution to vacate the chair and replace Smith as temporary president and majority leader. In an effort to stop the vote, Democratic whip Jeff Klein unilaterally moved to recess, and Smith had the lights and Internet cut off. However, they were unable to stop the session. All 30 Republicans plus two Democrats, Monserrate and Espada, voted in favor of the resolution. In accordance with a prearranged deal, Espada was elected temporary president and acting lieutenant governor while Skelos was elected majority leader. Both Monserrate and Espada were members of the original "Gang of Four" (the other two being Ruben Diaz and Carl Kruger), a group of Democratic senators that threatened to defect to the Republican caucus to prevent Smith from taking control of the chamber in January 2009. Monserrate had backed out of the Gang at the time, being the first of the four to back Smith.

The apparent Republican seizure of power is tenuous in any event. Smith claims the vote was illegal because of Klein's motion to adjourn; parliamentary procedure stipulates that a vote to adjourn takes precedence over all other business. However, Smith, Klein, and most of the Democrats walked out before an actual vote to adjourn could be taken. Smith has also claimed that it is illegal to oust the majority leader in the middle of a two-year term, and as such, leaders can only be replaced at the beginning of a term, except in the case of death or resignation. Smith still asserts that he is majority leader and intends to challenge the vote in court. He has locked the doors of the state senate chambers in an effort to prevent any further legislative action. The Espada-Skelos coalition majority, which is also courting as many as ten more Democrats, announced plans hold sessions in the "Well" of the legislative office building until chamber doors are reopened. By the time of the scheduled session on June 10 at 3:00 p.m., at the request of Governor David Paterson, the keys to the senate chamber were turned over to the coalition; Smith has claimed that the coalition stole the key. The scheduled session was eventually postponed.

Additionally, both Monserrate and Espada faced accusations of unethical or criminal conduct. Monserrate was indicted for felony assault in March and would automatically lose his seat if convicted. New York, like most states, has a provision in its state constitution which bars convicted felons from holding office. Espada is the target of a state investigation into whether he funded his campaign with money siphoned from a nonprofit health care agency he controls. The Bronx's district attorney is also investigating charges that Espada actually lives in Mamaroneck (ironically, the home of fellow Democratic state senator Suzi Oppenheimer rather than the north Bronx district he represents.

As a result of the coup, Senate Democrats voted for John Sampson to replace Malcolm Smith as Democratic Leader. This led Hiram Monserrate to declare that he would once again caucus with the Democrats, which led to a 31-31 split.

On July 9, 2009, a source stated that Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. would be rejoining the Senate Democratic Conference after reaching a deal to have Malcom Smith be pro tem for a while until a "transition period" occurs in which Senator Sampson would replace him, and Espada as the majority leader.


Members of the Senate

District Senator Party First elected Residence
1 Kenneth LaValle Republican 1976 Port Jeffersonmarker
2 John J. Flanagan Republican 2002 East Northportmarker
3 Brian X. Foley Democratic 2008 Blue Pointmarker
4 Owen H. Johnson Republican 1972 West Babylonmarker
5 Carl Marcellino Republican 1995 Syossetmarker
6 Kemp Hannon Republican 1989 Garden Citymarker
7 Craig Johnson Democratic 2007 Port Washingtonmarker
8 Charles Fuschillo Republican 1998 Merrickmarker
9 Dean Skelos Republican 1984 Rockville Centremarker
10 Shirley Huntley Democratic 2006 Jamaicamarker
11 Frank Padavan Republican 1972 Bellerosemarker
12 George Onorato Democratic 1983 Astoriamarker
13 Hiram Monserrate Democratic 2008 Jackson Heights
14 Malcolm Smith Democratic 2000 St. Albansmarker
15 Joseph Addabbo, Jr. Democratic 2008 Ozone Parkmarker
16 Toby Ann Stavisky Democratic 1999 Flushing
17 Martin Malave Dilan Democratic 2002 Bushwickmarker
18 Velmanette Montgomery Democratic 1984 Brooklynmarker
19 John Sampson Democratic 1996 Brooklynmarker
20 Eric Adams Democratic 2006 Brooklynmarker
21 Kevin Parker Democratic 2002 Brooklynmarker
22 Martin Golden Republican 2002 Bay Ridge
23 Diane Savino Democratic 2004 Staten Islandmarker
24 Andrew Lanza Republican 2006 Staten Islandmarker
25 Dan Squadron Democratic 2008 Brooklynmarker
26 Liz Krueger Democratic 2002 New Yorkmarker
27 Carl Kruger Democratic 1994 Brooklynmarker
28 Jose M. Serrano Democratic 2004 Spanish Harlemmarker
29 Thomas Duane Democratic 1998 New Yorkmarker
30 Bill Perkins Democratic 2006 Harlemmarker
31 Eric Schneiderman Democratic 1998 Washington Heightsmarker
32 Rubén Díaz Democratic 2002 Soundviewmarker
33 Pedro Espada Democratic 2008 Mamaroneckmarker
34 Jeffrey Klein Democratic 2004 Throgs Neckmarker
35 Andrea Stewart-Cousins Democratic 2006 Yonkersmarker
36 Ruth Hassell-Thompson Democratic 2000 Williamsbridgemarker
37 Suzi Oppenheimer Democratic 1984 Mamaroneckmarker
38 Thomas Morahan Republican 1999 Clarkstownmarker
39 Bill Larkin Republican 1990 New Windsormarker
40 Vincent Leibell Republican 1994 Pattersonmarker
41 Stephen Saland Republican 1990 Poughkeepsiemarker
42 John Bonacic Republican 1998 Mount Hopemarker
43 Roy McDonald Republican 2008 Stillwater
44 Hugh Farley Republican 1976 Schenectadymarker
45 Betty Little Republican 2002 Queensburymarker
46 Neil Breslin Democratic 1996 Albanymarker
47 Joseph Griffo Republican 2006 Romemarker
48 Darrel Aubertine Democratic 2008 Cape Vincentmarker
49 David Valesky Democratic 2004 Oneidamarker
50 John DeFrancisco Republican 1992 Syracusemarker
51 James Seward Republican 1986 Milfordmarker
52 Thomas W. Libous Republican 1988 Binghamtonmarker
53 George H. Winner, Jr. Republican 2004 Elmiramarker
54 Michael Nozzolio Republican 1992 Fayettemarker
55 James Alesi Republican 1996 East Rochestermarker
56 Joseph Robach Republican 2002 Greecemarker
57 Catharine Young Republican 2005 Oleanmarker
58 William Stachowski Democratic 1981 Lake View
59 Dale Volker Republican 1975 Depewmarker
60 Antoine Thompson Democratic 2006 Buffalomarker
61 Michael Ranzenhofer Republican 2008 Clarencemarker
62 George D. Maziarz Republican 1995 Newfanemarker

Committee leadership

Committee Chairs (Democratic)

  • Aging: Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr.
  • Agriculture: Sen. Darrel Aubertine
  • Banking: Sen. Brian Foley
  • Budget Reform Select Committee: Sen. Liz Krueger
  • Children and Families: Sen. Velmanette Montgomery
  • Cities: Sen. Daniel Squadron
  • Civil Service and Pensions: Sen. Diane Savino
  • Codes: Sen. Eric Schneiderman
  • Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business: Sen. William Stachowski
  • Consumer Protection: Sen. Hiram Monserrate
  • Corporations, Authorities and Commissions: Sen. Bill Perkins
  • Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections: Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson
  • Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation: Sen. Jose M. Serrano
  • Education: Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer
  • Elections: Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr.
  • Energy and Telecommunications: Sen. Darrel Aubertine
  • Environmental Conservation: Sen. Antoine Thompson
  • Ethics: Sen. John Sampson
  • Finance: Sen. Carl Kruger
  • Health: Sen. Tom Duane
  • Higher Education: Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky
  • Housing, Construction and Community Development: Sen. Pedro Espada
  • Insurance: Sen. Neil Breslin
  • Investigations and Governmental Operations: Sen. Craig Johnson
  • Judiciary: Sen. John Sampson
  • Labor: Sen. George Onorato
  • Local Government: Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins
  • Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities: Sen. Shirley Huntley
  • Racing, Gaming and Wagering: Sen. Eric Adams
  • Rules: Sen. Malcolm Smith
  • Rules and Administration Reform Temporary Committee: Sen. David Valesky and Sen. John Bonacic
  • Social Services: Sen. Velmanette Montgomery
  • Transportation: Sen. Martin Malave Dilan
  • Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs: Sen. Eric Adams
  • Administrative Regulatory Review Commission: TBA
  • Rural Resources Commission: TBA

Committee Vice Chairs

  • Vice Chairwoman of the Finance Committee: Sen. Liz Krueger
  • Vice Chairman of the Rules Committee: Sen. Pedro Espada

Committee ranking members (Republican)

  • Aging: Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer
  • Agriculture: Sen. Catherine Young
  • Banking: Sen. Hugh Farley
  • Budget Reform Select Committee: TBA
  • Children and Families: Sen. Roy McDonald
  • Cities: Sen. Andrew Lanza
  • Civil Service and Pensions: Sen. Andrew Lanza
  • Codes: Sen. Dale Volker
  • Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business: Sen. Jim Alesi
  • Consumer Protection: Sen. Steve Saland
  • Corporations, Authorities and Commissions: Sen. Bill Larkin
  • Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections: Sen. Martin Golden
  • Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation: Sen. Joe Griffo
  • Education: Sen. John Flanagan
  • Elections: Sen. Thomas Libous
  • Energy and Telecommunications: Sen. Mike Nozzolio
  • Environmental Conservation: Sen. Carl Marcellino
  • Ethics: Sen. Owen Johnson
  • Finance: Sen. John DeFrancisco
  • Health: Sen. Kemp Hannon
  • Higher Education: Sen. Ken LaValle
  • Housing, Construction and Community Development: Sen. John Bonacic
  • Insurance: Sen. Jim Seward
  • Investigations and Governmental Operations: Sen. George Winner
  • Judiciary: Sen. George Maziarz
  • Labor: Sen. Joseph Robach
  • Local Government: Sen. Betty Little
  • Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities: Sen. Tom Morahan
  • Racing, Gaming and Wagering: Sen. John Bonacic
  • Rules: Sen. Dean Skelos
  • Social Services: Sen. Roy McDonald
  • Transportation: Sen. Charles Fuschillo
  • Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs: Sen. Vincent Leibell

See also


  1. 2008 Election Results, New York State Board of Elections.
  2. 2008-09 (Post-Election) Partisan Composition of State Legislatures National Conference of State Legislatures
  3. New York Times. " Democrats Take State Senate." Nov 5, 2008.
  4. Peters, Jeremy W. Democrats Likely to Keep Control of State Senate, The New York Times, November 6, 2008.
  5. Benjamin, Elizabeth. Monserrate Makes A Democratic Deal The Daily Politics. The Daily News November 8, 2008
  6. Lanza, Michael. Smith Balks After ‘Gang of Three’ Talks The Queens Tribune December 11, 2008.
  7. Democrats Reach Pact to Lead the Senate
  8. Democrats Take Control of New York State Senate
  9. Democratic Senators Pedro Espada, Jr. and Hiram Monserrate defected to give the Republicans a majority.
  10. Hiram Monserrate returned to the Democratic caucus, following a vote to remove Malcolm Smith as Democratic Leader and replace him with John Sampson.
  11. Democratic Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. rejoined the Democratic caucus after a deal for him to serve as Majority Leader.
  12. "GOP, 2 Dems flip power balance in NY Senate", The Washington Post, June 8, 2009. Accessed June 8, 2009.
  13. Odato, James. "Two Democrats join Republicans to topple Smith as Senate leader", Albany Times Union, June 8, 2009. Accessed June 8, 2009.
  14. [1]
  15. Bauman, Valerie. Senate stalls: Coalition says it's still strong. Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-06-11.
  16. Benjamin, Elizabeth. Coalition government, Day One. New York Daily News "Daily Politics" blog. 2009-06-09.
  18. Peters, Jeremy, and Danny Hakim. Republicans Seize Control of State Senate. The New York Times, 2009-06-09.
  19. Salonstall, David. Sen. Pedro Espada hounded by questions on ethics and residency. New York Daily News, 2009-06-10.
  20. Lovett, Kenneth (2009-06-15). State Senate standoff means even bigger mess with Sen. Hiram Monserrate's change of heart. New York Daily News Retrieved 2009-06-15.
  21. Deadlock-Ending Deal Near? Espada To Return To The Democrats. New York Daily News Retrieved 2009-07-09.

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