Is the party of Rockefeller becoming the party of Paladino?

Senate Democrats certainly want you to think so.

An emerging post-state primary talking point from Democrats in the chamber is that moderate Republicans are being overthrown by “extreme” right wingers.

Senate Minority Leader John Sampson deployed the attack on NY1’s Inside City Hall this week saying, “What you see is the moderate Republicans are going into extinction, and what you’re going to have is national Republicans in the statehouse in Albany.”

As Tom Kaplan points out, Sen. Mike Gianaris had a similar take as well.

For sure, there’s just one moderate from the GOP conference who lost his primary: Sen. Roy McDonald, who declined to continue his campaign on the Independence Party line. His loss came after his same-sex marriage vote, but there were a variety of factors in play.

The Senate Republicans are actually filled with moderates, at least currently. Heck, Sens. Mark Grisanti and Joe Robach were once Democrats.

Senate GOP lawmakers are more also more than happy to use Gov. Andrew Cuomo in their campaign ads, perhaps more a reflection more of the governor’s popularity then their politics. But it is also a tacit reminder that the Republicans are running in a heavily Democratic state and will work well with an executive in the other party if it means keeping power.

Cuomo himself, who has a rocky relationship with the Senate Democrats and has declined to endorse a full takeover of the chamber by his own party, said this week he has no problem with his image being used in Republican spots as long as they’re accurate.

But campaigns, in part, are about defining one’s opponent. Senate Democrats clearly want to portray Republicans as out of step in a blue state where support for a minimum-wage increase, reproductive rights and gun control measures all poll very well — efforts the majority conference has blocked or declined to bring up so far.

Take for instance today Democrats are more than pleased to send out a news release from the Greater Rochester National Organization Women criticizing Republican Senate candidate Sean Hanna, a state assemblyman seeking to replace the (moderate) GOP Sen. Jim Alesi.

The news release notes Hanna has voted against the New York State Fair Pay Act, sexual harassment safeguards and an expansion of access to reproductive health care. It comes after a third-party Republican group has blasted Democratic candidate Ted O’Brien for supporting a judicial candidate more than a decade ago who was accused of sexual harassment.

“I felt compelled to speak out because of the disgusting attacks against Ted O’Brien – a true advocate for women’s issues,” said Greater Rochester National Organization for Women President Linda Stephens. “While Ted has led the charge on women’s issues, Sean Hanna has voted against allowing women to earn equal pay for equal work, expanding workplace sexual harassment safeguards and has pursued a fringe, pro-life agenda. Sean Hanna is not an acceptable choice to represent us in the State Senate.”

Of course, criticism over the thinning ranks of moderates can cut both ways. Democrats in 2010 lost moderate members in their ranks who were running in Republican-heavy districts: Sens. Darrel Aubertine, Craig Johnson and Brian Foley.