New York Democrats assess Republicans’ losses: “It was a punch”

New York Democrats were shaken on Wednesday after surprising election losses from the tip of Long Island to the shores of Lake Erie, as a revitalized Republican Party showed it can make deep inroads even in one liberal strongholds of the country.

In suburban Nassau County, where Democrats controlled all major offices ahead of election day, Republicans took advantage of anemic Democratic turnout to topple the county comptroller and district attorney’s offices for the first time in 15 years, while defeating the county executive in place.

In Colony outside of Albany, they handily won the post of city supervisor for the first time in nearly two decades and were well on their way to wresting control of the city council from the Democrats.

And in New York City, where Eric Adams and his fellow Democrats easily retained control of city hall and city council, Republicans were nonetheless ready to expand their presence in city government after another weak election. turnout – perhaps at levels not seen since Rudolph W. Giuliani was mayor.

As the ballot count continued on Wednesday afternoon, an outgoing Democratic council member and likely candidate for council chairman was unlikely to lose his seat in south Brooklyn.

Results for Democrats were no better on statewide voting metrics, as voters strongly rejected two constitutional amendments intended to expand access to the ballot – a major national priority for the party – which Democrats believed it would sail toward approval.

“There’s no way to water this down: it was a bombing on a blow job,” Steve Israel, former New York congressman and former chairman of the House Democratic campaign branch, told About Tuesday’s results for the party in New York and across the country.

Party strategists have warned against over-reading the low turnout election results. It’s impossible to predict what the environment or political issues will look like next year, they said, or what role former President Donald J. Trump might play.

But the results across New York City reflected damaging results for Democrats in gubernatorial races in Virginia, where Republicans won, and in New Jersey, where they came closer, and signaled that even strongholds traditional blues and suburbs that leaned Democratic during Mr. Trump’s presidency were not immune. to a punitive national environment. Indeed, this coalition seems more difficult to maintain without a polarizing Republican president in power.

For many watching the results, Tuesday was reminiscent of 2009, when Republicans won governors’ races in Virginia and New Jersey and triumphed in some local races on Long Island and even in New York City council contests. They took over the House in a wave of elections the following year.

The results left the moderate and left-wing factions of Democrats pointing fingers once again as they sought a quick course correction.

“It’s a nightmare,” left-wing State Senator Alessandra Biaggi said, warning her fellow Democrats to focus on tackling Republican attacks on a bail reform law her party had approved and actively selling their legislative achievements. “But it’s also not a nightmare that doesn’t have the ability to turn around.”

Both party factions were particularly embittered after a scathing intramural fight in the Buffalo mayoral race. Left-wing leaders hailed India Walton, a Democratic socialist, as the party’s future face after winning the Democratic primary. On Wednesday afternoon, however, she conceded defeat to Byron Brown, the longtime moderate Democratic mayor who ran as a written candidate with Republicans backing.

“The Democrats who run New York have done too much to just flatter the left, and we are paying the price,” said Rep. Tom Suozzi, a Long Island moderate who vocally supported the campaign in writing and is considering a race for governor next year.

Mr. Suozzi suggested that this approach had exacerbated the cyclical pendulum swing of party politics. “People don’t want that,” he said. “They want results that affect their everyday life.”

Democratic participation appears to be down significantly statewide.

Nowhere was the impact clearer than on Long Island, where early data from Nassau County suggested just over 260,000 total votes were cast this year, up from over 700,000 in 2020. , when Mr. Biden won a 10-point victory there. Many Democrats appear to have simply stayed at home: Although the party has a registration advantage of nearly 90,000 people, more registered Republicans voted.

In the race for district attorney, Republican Anne Donnelly defeated Democrat State Senator Todd Kaminsky by nearly 20 points. Laura Curran, the Nassau County leader who had been seen as a strong start, followed her Republican opponent, Bruce Blakeman, by a narrower margin on Wednesday.

In neighboring Suffolk County, Timothy Sini, the Democratic District Attorney, lost to Ray Tierney, a Republican.

“Long Island is a lot like the rest of the country: there has been a red wave,” said Jay Jacobs, Democratic President of New York State and Nassau County Party Leader. “Republicans have been spurred on because they are angry and unhappy with the leadership of the country. We have seen it in the polls. Democrats are discouraged and unenthusiastic.

Republicans, on the other hand, came out dynamic on Wednesday, vowing to worsen their earnings next year when New York elects a governor, attorney general and state legislature. All of them are currently under the tight grip of Democrats and are not considered to pose a serious risk of being toppled.

“We are going to adopt a common sense governance program in this state and build the best ticket our party has organized since 1994,” said Nick Langworthy, Republican president of the state, predicting Democrats would ignore the warning sirens. .

“They won’t learn the lessons here because they are so petrified by the far left of their main base,” he said.

Flashpoints varied from race to race, but one against the other was the issue of public safety, as debates – and, at times, misinterpretations – over recent changes. state bail laws defined races on Long Island, and confrontations over policing matters more widely played out statewide.

“You can bet they are going to run against every senator from Long Island and the Hudson Valley on bail reform in the next election,” said Bruce N. Gyory, a veteran Democratic political strategist.

In conservative corners of New York City, some voters were also fueled by anger over city vaccine mandates, an issue that was at play in a number of city council contests. Early Wednesday, Republicans had expanded their presence on the council to four seats instead of three, with one clearly losing and several more contests staying close.

Notably, City Councilor Justin Brannan, one of the top potential candidates to become the next council chairman, was still awaiting the vote count in his too-close Brooklyn district, although he expressed optimism that the postal ballots would place it on top.

Democrats were also stung by the defeat of three voting initiatives they had devised and expected voters across the state to easily approve. One would have paved the way for mail-in voting without excuse and another for same-day voter registration – policies enacted in other states that Democrats say are necessary to help thwart Republican attempts to restrict access to ballots.

Voters also rejected a measure that would have revised guidelines governing the 10-year legislative redistribution process to benefit Democrats. Voters approved a fourth measure giving New Yorkers a constitutional right to clean air, water and a “healthy environment.”

New York Republicans had stormed the state to oppose election-related measures and spent heavily to publicize against them, warning, baselessly, that the changes could lead to an increase in voter fraud.

Democrats, on the other hand, have done very little to promote the proposals.

“It is a betrayal of our vigilance value,” Ms. Biaggi said, referring to the party’s failure to push the amendments more aggressively. “It is pathetic.”

She reiterated a call for Mr Jacobs to step down and said Governor Kathy Hochul should kick him out if he doesn’t.

Peter King, a longtime former Republican congressman from Long Island, called the overall results a “backlash against Biden and the progressive Democrats.” He warned that his party could still waste its good hand, especially if it campaigns in a way it presents as too ideological.

“We have to show that we can govern, show that we can make it work and not get caught up in issues that are the right-wing equivalent of progressives,” King said. “It has to be coordinated, it has to be coherent, it cannot derail. “

Luis Ferré-Sadurní contributed reports.

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