State Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, a Democrat, was nominated unanimously on Jan. 9 as the successor to former state Sen. George Latimer’s Senate seat.
Latimer, a fellow Democrat, vacated the seat when he was elected as Westchester County executive and subsequently took office on Jan. 1.
Mayer took the nomination over a field of candidates that included Bedford Supervisor Chris Burdick and former Bernie Sanders organizer and White Plains resident, Kat Brezler, as well as Mark Jaffe of West Harrison. Prior to the Democrats convention at the Westchester County Center on Tuesday night, all of the other candidates had dropped out of the race, including Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano who left the running a week before the nomination process.
“You opened up your minds and your hearts; you heard my story,” Mayer said at the County Center.
While Mayer won’t face a primary from fellow Democrats, she will have to square off against a Republican opponent for the seat in a special election yet to be called for by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat.
Cuomo hasn’t indicated when he might call for a special election or when it might take place.
Mayer is expected to face either Sarmad Khojasteh or Dan Schorr, both Republicans who are seeking the party’s nomination. However, county Republicans have yet to announce when they plan to nominate a candidate for the seat.
With Mayer, Democrats will look to increase their edge in the state Senate where Republicans currently hold a one-person majority, 31-30, with two open seats.
“Shelley Mayer can hit the ground running and give the hundreds of thousands of Westchester residents the representation they deserve,” said Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Yonkers Democrat, in a statement this week.
Republicans will be hard-pressed to win a seat that has been Democrats’ hand for decades.
However, throughout the past several election cycles Republicans have unsuccessfully pumped significant financing into campaigns hoping to win control of the seat, including a race between Latimer and GOP candidate Bob Cohen during a 2012 election that broke a record for most money spent—$4.5 million in total—during a New York political race at the time.
Democrats will also look to further capitalize on a blue surge of Democratic support that was seen during the 2017 elections that to the election of a new county executive and a string of Democratic victories throughout Westchester.
The 37th Senatorial District encompasses the cities of Yonkers, White Plains, New Rochelle and Rye, and the towns of Eastchester, Harrison, Mamaroneck, Rye, Bedford and North Castle.