Since 1965, the Republican-controlled state senate has been the burying ground for progressive legislation. Bills that passed the Democratic-ruled assembly only to be bottled up in the senate include gun control, hate crimes, HMO reforms, tenant protections, and minimum-wage increases.

This year, presidential and U.S. Senate races will bring out thousands of additional voters, making the chances of breaking the Republicans' stranglehold stronger than ever. A senate with Democrats in power would be pro-choice for the first time; it would shape next year's vital congressional redistricting; it would give the city a fair share of education funds.

The Voice makes these state senate endorsements:

Manhattan, 26th District
Liz Krueger

On Manhattan's Upper East Side, Krueger, a longtime champion of the poor, is running a strong race against Republican oligarch Roy Goodman. For more than 30 years, Goodman has played bait and switch with voters, posing as a liberal at election time, while accommodating the senate's right-wing Republican leadership in Albany.

Bronx-Westchester, 34th District
Lorraine Coyle Koppell

In the north Bronx, attorney and women's rights activist Koppell is doing what the Bronx Democratic machine has refused to do for years: mount a serious challenge against Conservative-Republican Guy Velella. Koppell has already served her district by exposing a typical Velella maneuver: his $150,000 consultantship with a favor-seeking medical malpractice firm.

Brooklyn, 23rd District
Vincent Gentile

In a district spanning Brooklyn's Bay Ridge and Staten Island, pro-tenant Gentile is fending off a new challenge from Robert DiCarlo, the man Gentile defeated in 1996.

Queens, 11th District
Rory Lancman

In eastern Queens, Lancman, a 31-year-old lawyer, is challenging Republican Frank Padavan, whose anti-choice and anti-immigrant positions are a growing affront in his increasingly diverse district.

Westchester, 35th District
Tom Abinanti

In Westchester, Abinanti, the majority leader of the county legislature, nearly defeated Republican incumbent Nick Spano four years ago. Spano has cast himself as pro-labor and pro-choice, without ever challenging the senate's reactionary Republican leadership.

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