ALBANY — Deciding who has enough votes to control New York's state Senate could be two weeks away until absentee ballots are counted in some races, and it could be weeks after that before senators select a leader.
In the Assembly, Democrats easily continued their supermajority.
With most precincts reporting in unofficial results, it appeared two Republican Senate seats would switch to Democrats leaving the chamber tied 31-31, but that's subject to counting thousands of absentee ballots that could erode razor-thin winning margins. A new seat created by the Republican majority to help seal its control was too close to call Tuesday night.
Democrats had sought to win the majority promising a progressive agenda that included raising the minimum wage. Republicans sought to hold the majority on a platform of jobs and fiscal control.
A Senate majority leader will be chosen by the next class of sitting senators. But that decision is complicated by the four-member Independent Democratic Conference that broke away from the Democratic minority and has often sided with Republicans over the last two years.
In addition, conservative Democrat Simcha Felder was leading Republican David Storobin in the 17th district in Brooklyn, and Felder said he might sit and vote with the Republicans if elected.
Hours after the polls closed, it appeared veteran Sen. Stephen Saland, a Republican from Poughkeepsie who voted to support gay marriage, would lose, according to Tuesday's unofficial vote. And in Rochester, Democrat Ted O'Brien appeared to have defeated Republican Sean Hanna. That seat had been held by another Republican, Sen. James Alesi, who had voted for same-sex marriage.
A new seat pitted Republican George Amedore against Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk in the 46th Senate District, but that race was too close to call with thousands of absentee ballots yet to count.
Republicans went into Tuesday with a 33-29 majority in the chamber that requires 32 votes to pass any measure.
Both sides claimed victory, despite the tense weeks of vote counting ahead and potential legal challenges.
"We are confident that once all the votes are in, we will retain our majority," said Scott Reif, spokesman for Senate Republicans.
Sen. Michael Gianaris of Queens, who led the Senate Democratic campaigns, also expressed confidence.
"It's a great night," he said.