It’s The Numbers
From the morning memo email blast, which I’ve had to update after Republican Eric Ulrich conceded this morning:
Regardless of the paper ballot counts in two still contested, too-close-to-call races, Senate Democrats had a good night.
They had a good night because even if they don’t win in 2012, they’ll likely have another good night in 2014. And 2016, the next presidential election year.
The sheer numbers of Democratic voters in New York is becoming overwhelming, threatening to put the Republican Party into a near permanent minority.
Republicans failed to keep a Rochester-area seat held by retiring Sen. Jim Alesi.
They failed to make in-roads in Westchester County for the district being vacated by Democratic Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer — an area that Bob Cohen narrowly lost two years, but appears headed for a sound defeat this year.
And even in the newly created 46th Senate District in the Capital Region, Republicans failed to achieve a convincing win, with Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk holding a 139-vote lead over Assemblyman George Amedore in a contest that will go to paper.
This isn’t to say Republicans made glaring errors. Indeed, they did a lot of things right.
They have hugged the popular Gov. Andrew Cuomo as tight as possible and even endorsed one of their own candidates, Sen. Stephen Saland, who now trails by 1,600-some odd votes.
The Senate GOP, as usual, raised a ton of cash and vastly outspent Democrats, who couldn’t dream of matching their resources blow for blow.
And of course Republicans had their greatest strength: Drawing their own legislative districts.
Cuomo, along with Assembly Democrats and Senate Republicans struck a deal to allow partisan redistricting for state lines yet another year, with the tacit promise of completing a Constitutional amendment for altered independent redistricting by 2022.
But this is what happens you try to slice and dice a Democratic state like it’s Swiss cheese: yet another year of razor-thin Senate races in various pockets of the state where the demographics aren’t on the Senate GOP’s side.
And it’s not to say Democrats didn’t run smart, energetic campaigns.
They knew to hammer several smart economic themes, especially when it comes to increasing the state’s minimum wage, a wildly popular policy that Cuomo (and even a few Republicans) support.
When it came to money, Democrats were indeed bringing a knife to a bazooka fight.
But they benefitted from a coalition of labor groups — not the least of which was the New York State United Teachers union — which had traditionally backed the Senate GOP’s grip on power in the chamber.
And they were able to do well last night without the backing of Cuomo, who would not endorse his party’s takeover of the Senate.
Yet, so much remains in doubt and Republicans, ever adept at staying and preserving their power, have multiple avenues to keeping the majority.
Paper ballots will need to be counted, including the storm-ravaged SD-15, in which Democratic Sen. Joe Addabbo is fending off a challenge from Republican City Councilman Eric Ulrich. Cuomo allowed victims of the storm displaced to cast affidavit ballots, though those living outside of the district couldn’t vote in the race.
In the SD-41. Saland is no stranger to needing a strong showing from the absentee voters. He was able to make up his gap against Republican challenger Neil DiCarlo in his September primary through a very extensive and smart absentee ballot program. There are nearly 9,000 or so absentee ballots out there, but in a divided three-way race, it is a jump ball.
The SD-46 will likely be a protracted and intense legal battle over absentees as well, not dissimiliar to the fight for the Buffalo-area seat in 2010 between Mark Grisanti and Democratic then-Sen. Antoine Thompson.
Concurrently, Democrats and Republicans both will be vying for the affections of Simcha Felder, the Democratic winner of the so-called “super Jewish” Brooklyn Senate district who has not said he’ll support either conference.
If Gipson and Tkaczyk become senators and Felder sits with Democrats, then the party has 33 members. End of story, right? Nope!
There’s still the four-member Independent Democratic Conference to be engaged. The breakaway IDC of Sens. David Carlucci, Jeff Klein, Diane Savino and David Valesky formed in 2011 following the Democrats being turned out of power during a tumultous 2-year term.
Klein and his fellowe IDCers insist that the conference will remain as is. What does this mean?
Well, leadership of the Senate could very likely remain a fragile coalition government of four (maybe five) Democrats and 29 or so Republicans. Or the IDC could remain separate, but align themselves with the newly minted Democratic majority.
All of this is moot of course if Republicans maintain a clear, if thin, majority heading in to 2013.
The next question, then becomes, what this new look Senate has in store for the final two years of Cuomo’s first term.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on November 7, 2012 at 11:31 am, and is filed under Democrats, Republicans, State Senate. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
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