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Key New York Senate races breaking for Democrats in absentee count. Here's the latest

Joseph Spector
New York State Team

ALBANY - Democrats looked like they had lost several state Senate seats on Election Day.

Then the absentee count started.

Now Democrats appears poised to expand their majority as several key seats across Long Island, the Hudson Valley and upstate have broken for Democrats as the final count draw closer.

Democrats came into Election Day with 40 of the 63 Senate, but Election Day results suggested their majority could slip to as few as 36 seats as Republicans had a strong showing at the polls.

With the absentee count underway this week, the gaps narrowed in eight seats mainly held by freshman Democrats, and Democrats have won or are close to winning most of them.

If Democrats can get to 42 seats, they would have a supermajority — enough votes to override any veto by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Unlike most states, New York didn't start counting its absentees until about a week after Election Day to allow time to check for any double voting or residency issues.

But like most of the national vote, absentees have largely broken for Democrats.

The latest results "may be surprising for some, but it was always the Senate’s plan to invest heavily in the absentee process — and we are reaping the dividends of that right now," said Sen. Mike Gianaris, D-Queens, who heads the party's campaign committee.

Senate races getting tighter, and called

Mike Lawler (left) and Elijah Reichlin-Melnick have declared victory in their respective state Assembly and Senate elections.

On Long Island, Democrats appeared poised initially to have lost at least two Senate seats.

But two of those have swung to Democrats, with only freshman Democrat Monica Martinez down nearly 14,000 votes to Republican Alexis Weik in Suffolk County, which President Donald Trump won in 2016 and again this year.

On Tuesday, Long Island Sen. Kevin Thomas, D-Nassau County, declared victory for a second term and on Wednesday, so do did James Gaughran, D-Nassau County.

In a conservative part of Brooklyn, Democrat Sen. Andrew Gounardes also appeared in trouble after he was down on Election Day to Republican Vito Bruno.

But Gounardes has picked up 5,000 votes through the absentees and is down just 300 votes with 7,000 absentees to count, making him a likely winner.

In an open seat to succeed Sen. David Carlucci, D-Clarktown Rockland County, Democrat Elijah Reichlin-Melnick declared victory Tuesday after taking a lead over Republican Bill Weber by about 1,800 votes

The remaining absentee ballots are mostly from the two most Democratic towns, Reichlin-Melnick said.

“It is the honor of my life to have the opportunity to represent the people of Rockland and Westchester Counties in the New York State Senate," he said in a statement Tuesday.

More:Reichlin-Melnick apparently wins Senate seat, while Lawler unseats Jaffee for Assembly

More:Election 2020: 5 key takeaways from New York's big races

Close races in Hudson Valley and upstate continue to be counted

New York State Senate Candidates, left to right, Pete Harckham and Rob Astorino

Two highly contested Senate races may go down to the wire.

Sen. Peter Harckham, D-South Salem, Westchester County, was down about 7,400 votes to former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, in a district that stretches across Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties.

Democrats said there are about 37,000 ballots left to count in Westchester and Putnam starting Friday.

If Astorino can hang on, Republicans are also hoping for another pick up in the Hudson Valley. Republican Mike Martucci held a 8,000 vote lead over Sen. Jen Metzer, a freshman Democrat from Ulster County, with about 20,000 votes left to count.

But Democrats said Metzer is winning the absentee count at about 68% clip, putting her range of keeping the seat.

Another swing district that is an open seat is also undecided. 

Democrat candidate Michelle Hinchey,  Republican candidate Richard Amedure for 46th District

Republican Richard Amedure and Democrat Michelle Hinchey are vying for a seat that runs through Ulster County and the Albany area that is being vacated by Republican George Amedore.

Amedure had about an 5,800 votes lead, with Albany and Ulster counties left to count about 17,000 ballots.

Republicans said they are confident they will be bringing a bevy of new members to the Capitol when the next Legislature is seated in January.

"The Senate Republicans are excited about the many new members who will soon be joining our conference," Candice Giove, a spokeswoman for Senate Republicans, said.

"This group of leaders will bring new energy to our fight for the millions of families and taxpayers across this state who put their faith in us."

In upstate, Republican Angi Renna and Democat John Mannion are battling for a Syracuse-area seat vacated by Republican Bob Antonacci. 

Renna had a slim lead that is now down to about 3,600 votes, Democrats said, with about 29,000 votes still left to count.

Jeremy Cooney is running for a State Senate seat in the 56th District.

Meanwhile, Democrats picked up two open seats in the Rochester area that had long been held by Republicans.

Democrat Jeremy Cooney declared victory Wednesday over Republican Mike Barry in a seat held by Sen. Joseph Robach, R-Greece, and Democrat Samra Brouk won a seat held by Republican Rich Funke that runs across eastern Monroe and Ontario counties.

“With absentee ballots now counted in Monroe County, our campaign has significantly increased its lead to over 14,000 votes," Cooney said Wednesday in a statement.

"It is clear who the residents of the 56th Senate District have chosen to serve as their next state senator." 

More:Rob Astorino-Pete Harckham: It'll be a while before we know election winner. Here's why

More:NY Senate election results: Cooney leads Barry in 56th District by small margin

Joseph Spector is the Government and Politics Editor for the USA TODAY Network's Atlantic Group, overseeing coverage in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. He can be reached at JSPECTOR@Gannett.com or followed on Twitter: @GannettAlbany

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