Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/161 Tue, 12 Dec 2017 06:41:23 +0000 en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) For 2018, The Center Must Hold http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7082:for-2018-the-center-must-hold http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7082:for-2018-the-center-must-hold Cuomo NY Dems

Gov. Cuomo rallying to flip NY House seats (photo: NY Democratic Party)


If the national Women’s March was any indication, we are in for a Democratic tidal wave come 2018. We’re only seven months into 2017, of course. But if such a wave does occur, then the Republican Party in Congress will only revert back to ideological extremes and obstructionism.

Why? Because the seats up for grabs are largely the 50 seats held by moderate Tuesday Group caucus members. As their influence wanes, the influence of the Freedom Caucus and other extreme conservatives will only grow.

While governing is about compromise, politics is about winning, and having worked on several campaigns in New York, I certainly cannot begrudge Democrats for trying to unseat some of our more moderate Congressional members, as they are the campaign equivalent of low-hanging fruit.

However, in order to govern, the center must hold.

America needs the Tuesday Group. America needs Democratic blue dogs. Congressional Republicans need moderate leaders like Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, Charlie Dent, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Without them, the party in Congress will see a return to turmoil, the likes of which we only briefly glimpsed after John Boehner announced his resignation in September 2015.

Ward Baker, former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, wrote a lengthy memo last year to GOP Senate campaigns after it became clear Donald Trump was on track to win the Republican nomination for President. The message of the memo: run your own race.

Tuesday Group members, I cannot stress this enough.

Do not feel beholden to a toxic and unpopular and unpredictable White House. Support the Speaker, cast your vote, but vote your constituents, vote your conscience – not the Saturday morning Twitter spasms of an irrational and unstable Commander-in-Chief.

Reince Priebus and Howard Dean both proved that big tent strategy beats strict ideological adherence every time.

Dean built a 50-state infrastructure that helped Democrats navigate their way to the majority in 2006. Meanwhile, Priebus wrangled FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth, Ending Spending, and other conservative groups to do the same for Republicans in 2010 and 2014.

That’s the reason why my party is now gifted with talented pols like Joni Ernst, Rob Portman, Cory Gardner, Elise Stefanik, John Katko, and Marco Rubio.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has already declared “war” on Republican House members throughout the state, but based on his track record his bark is worse than his bite. Congressional Reps. John Faso and Claudia Tenney may face strong Democratic challenges, but Cuomo will be too busy padding his own reelection effort to take notice.

Democrats, if they’re interested in winning, need to ditch – and quit praying at the altar of – a Vermont demagogue and remnant of the Old World communist left, who still refuses to even identify as a Democrat, and instead embrace such 21st Century party pragmatists as Cory Booker, Patty Murray, Tom Perez, and John Hickenlooper.

If not, Democrats will only continue to flounder, and suffer more “close but no cigar” moments like Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania, Jason Kander in Missouri, Jon Ossoff in Georgia, and, quite obviously, that glass ceiling-shattering candidate who was supposed to win the White House in 2008 and 2016.

Democrats, I may not be your friend, but I’m certainly not your enemy – Putin and ISIS are the enemy. Your party is in turmoil, you need to figure out what you stand for, and then bring your A-game.

Show Americans you’ve got what it takes to provide jobs, provide roads and bridges, provide health care, education and equal justice, provide prosperity, liberty, safety, security, and the freedom of choice for all.

However, if you can’t do that, if you can’t organize for something other than marching, if you can’t resolve your own petty internecine warfare between intransigent Bernie believers and mainstream party practicables then you deserve to live in the minority until you do.

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John William Schiffbauer was the Deputy Communications Director for the New York Republican State Committee 2014-16. Last fall, he served as campaign manager for Republican Melinda Crump’s State Senate campaign in New York’s 31st District. On Twitter @jwschiffgop.

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For 2018, The Center Must Hold Wed, 26 Jul 2017 20:25:00 +0000
Trump's Speech, a Nightmare for Democrats http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6783:trump-s-speech-a-nightmare-for-democrats http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6783:trump-s-speech-a-nightmare-for-democrats trump military

President Donald Trump (photo: @POTUS)


In the weeks before Donald Trump’s address to Congress, the main topic of conversation among Democrats was not how to make the president look incompetent and unfit—it was how to best exploit the fact that he so clearly is.

We underestimated him.

In the biggest political rope-a-dope of all time, after setting the bar as low as he could during 40 days of tumultuous terribleness and a chaotic campaign, Trump delivered a well-crafted, coherent and populist-yet-serious speech on Tuesday night. His presidency re-started today, powered by its success.

In other words, this is the Democrats’ worst nightmare.

As unpopular a president as Trump is, a high percentage of American voters approve of his policies when they put aside their personal feelings about Trump himself. That means he may still be able to be a well-thought-of president—if he can just act, well, presidential.

And that’s what he did last night.

Trump will now undoubtedly get a bump up in polls. He may even get a bit of a honeymoon period here similar to what presidents normally receive when they are first elected. It’s even possible most of the country will temporarily forget just how badly he and his people bungled the beginning of his presidency.

But the really scary thing for Democrats isn’t the speech; it’s what was in it. Though there were plenty of the same divisive ideas that are sure to enrage the liberal base, there was also plenty of bi-partisan policy and sentiment that is tough to argue with.

Ironically, that was the same strategy as another Comeback Kid, who just happens to be the husband of the Democratic candidate Trump beat in November. Yes, in addition to the red meat he threw his base, President Trump attempted to triangulate his way out of trouble on Tuesday, using Bill Clinton’s method of marginalizing dissent by siding with the opposition party.

A few examples of Trump tacking left include:

--Immigration. The president seemed to indicate he would accept legal status for some undocumented immigrants, saying “I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible.”

--Paid maternity leave. The president went way left on a favorite policy of liberals, declaring, “My administration wants to work with members of both parties to make child care accessible and affordable, to help ensure new parents that they have paid family leave.”

--Lowering the cost of prescription drugs. Traditionally an issue for Democrats, Trump announced (for the umpteenth time) that he would “work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs.”

Trump also made plenty of inarguable - and stereotypically presidential - statements in his speech. He decried hate crimes. He called for unity. He laid praise on the military. Sure, some of it sounded hollow and pandering. But he didn’t smirk or flub or appear indifferent. In fact, he delivered the lines believably.

You’d have to remember that he has said racist things, divided Americans for his own benefit, and criticized a war hero for getting caught by the enemy to be offended by his duplicity. A lot of Americans won’t.

And to be turned off by his false statements, of which there were plenty, you’d have to know they were false. For the record, these included the claims that Americans live in “lawless chaos” (American crime rates are near all-time lows), “Obamacare is collapsing” (20 million more Americans have health insurance now who didn’t before the health plan was passed), and our country is undergoing the “worst financial recovery in 65 years” (75 months of straight job creation and historically low unemployment).

And, by God, it was great TV.

Maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, Trump is the producer of a top-rated show. But maybe you would think that a Trump-produced address of Congress would be too over the top to be convincingly earnest. It wasn’t.

The most memorable moment of the evening – or of any presidential address of Congress in recent memory – was the moving memorial for Senior Chief William Ryan Owens, a Navy SEAL killed in a counter-terror operation in Yemen. His wife, Carryn, appeared to be speaking skyward to her late husband as the chamber stood and applauded. The applause lasted for several minutes. Then, the president quoted the Bible in eulogy.

Perhaps Trump’s communications team was thinking more about the effect that moment would have on its principal’s approval rating than the importance of it for the widow and the appreciation of the ultimate sacrifice of a soldier. Perhaps not. It doesn’t matter. It made the president look presidential.

But the Democrats do have one thing going for them: this was just a speech. Today may be a brighter day for Republicans and the White House—but sunlight is the best disinfectant, and only progress on the president’s promises will allow him to maintain his momentum.

Plus: Trump is Trump. If history is any guide, he does not have the discipline to stay on message for more than a short time.

So chalk one up for Team Trump. And Democrats beware. But leading a divided nation, convincing a cantankerous Congress and advancing a bi-partisan agenda is a lot harder than reading off of a Teleprompter.

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Evan Thies is the co-founder of Pythia Public Affairs. On Twitter @EvanRThies.

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Trump's Speech, a Nightmare for Democrats Wed, 01 Mar 2017 05:00:00 +0000
Donald Trump Elected President in Big Night for GOP http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6615:donald-trump-elected-president-in-big-night-for-gop http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6615:donald-trump-elected-president-in-big-night-for-gop Trump election night 2

President-Elect Donald Trump


On a huge Election Day for Republicans, Donald Trump won the presidential election, the GOP kept control of both houses of Congress, and, here in New York, Republicans have increased their margin in the state Senate, the party’s last stronghold of statewide power.

With a stunning show of support across the country, Trump and his vice presidential running mate Mike Pence won more states than expected and Trump will become the 45th President of the United States. Reports came in around 2:40 a.m. that Hillary Clinton had called Trump to concede, and soon after, Trump took the stage at the New York Hilton to declare victory.

It was less than an hour after Clinton campaign chair John Podesta said that several states were “too close to call,” that the campaign was going to see every vote counted, and that it would have more to say on Wednesday.

But as more votes came in, the Associated Press called the race for Trump and reports came in of Clinton’s call. Trump called for unity and promised to be a President for all Americans. He repeated campaign promises of investment in infrastructure and jobs for Americans. He did not mention several of his other promises from the campaign trail, like building a wall on the Mexican border and getting Mexico to pay for it, nor did he use disparaging nicknames for his opponent or lash out at critics, as he had throughout the primary and general elections. Trump did not threaten key pieces of the U.S. Constitution as he had over the course of his campaign.

The President-elect spoke calmly and graciously, thanking many members of his team for their work and support, and he thanked Hillary Clinton for her service to the country. There is a great deal of uncertainty about how he will handle the transition of power and the Presidency once inaugurated on January 20, 2017. He is the first person ever elected U.S. President with no government or military experience.

The popular vote count is very close, and Clinton could very well win that but lose the Electoral College and thus the presidency. Trump pulled out a variety of swing states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Carolina.

Financial markets in the U.S. and around the world tumbled as Trump’s win became more apparent.

In the U.S. Senate, where Republicans held a 54-46 advantage coming into the elections, during which 34 Senate seats were being voting on, Republicans appear to have lost just one seat, in Illinois. However, as of 3 a.m., there were two races still not called. It appears likely that the Senate split will be 53-47 or 52-48. New York Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat who won reelection easily, is on track to become Senate Minority Leader.

Republicans will also maintain control of the House of Representatives, where all 435 seats were on the ballot and the GOP came into the elections with a 247-188 advantage. Democrats appear to be picking up a handful of seats to slightly narrow that gap.

Here in New York, congressional races contributed to those House results. Despite several hotly contested races, mostly on Long Island and the Hudson Valley, the New York delegation to the House will remain the same in terms of party representation. In the most watched race in the state, if not the country, Republican John Faso defeated Democrat Zephyr Teachout to replace retiring GOP Rep. Chris Gibson.

In the race to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Steve Israel, Democrat Tom Suozzi has defeated Republican Jack Martins. Other Congressional results include wins for Republicans Lee Zeldin, Peter King, Dan Donovan, Elise Stefanik, Claudia Tenney, Thomas Reed, John Katko, and Chris Collins; and for Democrats Kathleen Rice, Gregory Meeks, Grace Meng, Nydia Velazquez, Hakeem Jeffries, Yvette Clarke, Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney, Adriano Espaillat, Joe Crowley, Jose Serrano, Eliot Engel, Sean Patrick Maloney, Paul Tonko, Louise Slaughter, and Brian Higgins.

All of the seats in the New York State Legislature were also on the ballot this year: 63 Senate seats and 150 Assembly seats. Democrats will maintain a healthy majority in the Assembly. The Senate math is more complicated, but Republicans appear to have ensured they will have at least a bare majority of 32, including Senator Simcha Felder, a Democrat who caucuses with the GOP. As of 3 a.m. there were two races too close to call, though, which will influence the final margin and could give the GOP more cushion: Republican Sen. Michael Venditto and Democratic challenger John Brooks and Republican Sen. Carl Marcellino and Democratic challenger James Gaughran are locked in tight battles, both on Long Island.

There is another key piece to the state Senate puzzle, of course: the soon-to-be seven-member Independent Democratic Conference and the GOP are likely to continue to align in a power-sharing coalition. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan indicated in an Election Night press statement that the GOP-IDC partnership would continue in 2017. It is not immediately clear what this means for the Albany agendas laid out by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo as they discussed what they hoped to see next year if Democrats took the chamber.

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Note: this story has been updated with additional information.

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Donald Trump Elected President in Big Night for GOP Tue, 08 Nov 2016 05:00:00 +0000
New York Congressional Primary Results; Espaillat, Teachout Among Winners http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6420:new-york-congressional-primary-results-espaillat-teachout-among-winners http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6420:new-york-congressional-primary-results-espaillat-teachout-among-winners Espaillat presser

Adriano Espaillat (photo: @EspaillatNY)


New York voters chose congressional candidates in 13 primaries across the state on Tuesday, with seven of those contests taking place within New York City—all of which were Democratic. New York has 27 seats in the House of Representatives.

While the current New York City congressional delegation consists of 11 Democrats and one Republican, a makeup that is unlikely to change this year, results from key primaries in three swing districts outside the city have set the stage for races that could factor into which party controls the House after November’s elections.

In the most-watched and only competitive primary in New York City, nine candidates contended to be the Democratic nominee for New York’s 13th Congressional District, where longtime incumbent Charlie Rangel announced he will step down after 46 years in office. The district includes much of Upper Manhattan and some of the South Bronx. Because the district is overwhelmingly Democratic, the primary winner is a lock to become the next district representative in Congress.

State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who lost primary challenges to Rangel in 2012 and 2014, declared victory in NY-13, barely defeating Assemblymember Keith Wright. While Wright did not immediately concede, asserting that every vote must be counted and that efforts to suppress the vote of African-Americans must be investigated, NY1 projected Espaillat the winner just after 11 p.m., at which point 98% of precincts had reported their ballots and Espaillat held a lead of about 1,270 votes. The NY-13 vote was relatively high among expectedly low turnout affairs across the city and state, with about 43,000 votes cast -- Espaillat received about 15,700 (37%); Wright about 14,400 (34%).

Clyde Williams (11%) finished a somewhat distant third, followed by Adam Clayton Powell IV (6%), Guillermo Linares (5.5%), Suzan Johnson-Cook (5%), Michael Gallagher, Sam Sloan, and Yohanny Caceres.

Most New York City congressional primaries were marked by victories for incumbent candidates. Democrats Gregory Meeks of Queens; Nydia Velazquez of Brooklyn; Jerrod Nadler and Carolyn Maloney of Manhattan; and Jose Serrano of the Bronx kept their seats by wide margins in contested primaries. All are expected to win general election races in November, along with other Democrats, like Grace Meng and Hakeem Jeffries, who did not have primary challenges, and Republican Rep. Daniel Donovan, who was unopposed in the primary.

A key primary outside the city was the 19th Congressional District in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills, where current Republican Rep. Chris Gibson has announced he will retire this year. Zephyr Teachout defeated Will Yandik to clinch the Democratic nomination there, while John Faso won the Republican nomination over Andrew Heaney. Teachout and Faso are preparing for what could be a very competitive general election that may garner national attention and resources from the two major party apparatuses.

Democratic Rep. Steve Israel, who represents the state’s 3rd Congressional District on Long Island, will also retire at the end of this term. In the primaries, Thomas Suozzi defeated Jon Kaiman, Steve Stern, Jonathan Clarke, and Anna Kaplan to become the Democratic nominee. Suozzi will face Republican candidate Jack Martins in the general election.

Republican Rep. Richard Hanna of the 22nd Congressional District in Utica has also announced he will step down this year after three terms in office. In the district’s Republican primary, Claudia Tenney defeated George Philips and Steven Wells to become the nominee, and will run against Democratic candidate Kim Meyers in November.

As the November general election approaches, candidates on both sides of the aisle will be looking up the ticket at presidential nominees. The two major parties both have presumptive nominees from New York, Hillary Clinton for the Democrats and Donald Trump for the Republicans. The official nominating conventions are in July.

Come November, there will be one New York Senate race on the ballot, with incumbent Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat from Brooklyn, facing Republican challenger Wendy Long. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat who defeated Long in 2012, is not up for reelection this year.

The general election will take place November 8. Before the November election, New Yorkers will have a third primary election day, with state Assembly and Senate primaries on September 13. Few New York City-based races are expected to be competitive, but if Espaillat is indeed the winner in NY-13, his state Senate seat will be open and there are at least two Democrats, Micah Lasher and Robert Jackson, already in the running.

[See the details of New York primary voting results via WNYC here]

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Aaron Holmes contributed reporting.

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New York Congressional Primary Results; Espaillat, Teachout Among Winners Tue, 28 Jun 2016 04:00:00 +0000
Espaillat Unveils Plan to Address Child Care Costs http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6387:espaillat-unveils-plan-to-address-child-care-costs http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6387:espaillat-unveils-plan-to-address-child-care-costs Espaillat news conference

Sen. Espaillat (photo: @EspaillatNY)


To address the city’s escalating affordability crisis, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, Democratic candidate in the 13th Congressional District, is unveiling a proposal to increase the federal Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

The announcement comes as the heated Congressional primary enters its final weeks. Espaillat’s campaign is announcing a series of policy papers in an attempt to separate itself in a race that has focused on political allegiances, polls, and fundraising. Other candidates vying to replace retiring Rep. Charles Rangel include Assemblymember Keith Wright, former Assemblymember Adam Clayton Powell, Assemblymemeber Guillermo Linares, and Clyde Williams, former political director of the Democratic National Committee. Espaillat unsuccessfully challenged Rangel in 2012 and 2014. This year’s primary is set for June 28.

“I think there is a growing affordability crisis in the city and the state that has been framed around rent and the minimum wage, but not that fine-tuned to address issues young families face as far child care,” Espaillat told Gotham Gazette. “There are big costs these families face to live in the city while trying to raise kids. Some parents won’t go to work if they aren’t sure their children are receiving proper care.”

Espaillat cites a study by Democratic New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office that shows child care costs for city residents rising $1,612 per family each year. The study further shows that the average New York City family spends up to $16,250 per year on child care for an infant, $11,648 for a toddler and $9,620 for a school-age child. Gillibrand, like Rangel, has endorsed Wright in the congressional race. Espaillat said he had not spoken to the senator about his plan.

Espaillat’s plan would increase the CDCTC for families with children under four, allow families to claim 50 percent of child care costs up to $6,000 per child, and increase the maximum credit for families receiving federal, state, and city credits by 43 percent per child, making the maximum credit $8,775 per child.

Only families making under $30,000 a year with children under four years of age are eligible for the city tax credit. Families of all income levels with children up to the age of 13 are eligible for the state and federal credits, but the credits shrink depending on income. The state and city CDCTC are calculated as a percentage of the federal credit, so an increase to the federal plan would in turn boost state and local aid.

Espaillat’s policy paper estimates that “A family receiving the maximum federal, state, and city credits would receive $6,143-just over one-third the average price of child care for an infant in New York City. But a family earning $50,000 with a three-year-old child would only receive $2,400. This is a massive burden on New York City’s working- and middle-class families.”

Espaillat said he believes his proposal is one that could attract bipartisan support and gain traction in Congress because people across the country struggle to pay for child care. “This cuts across state and party lines,” Espaillat told Gotham Gazette. “This is like student loans; it has universal appeal whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or independent.”

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by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

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Espaillat Unveils Plan to Address Child Care Costs Thu, 09 Jun 2016 04:00:00 +0000
New Yorkers Vote in Congressional Primaries June 28 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6380:new-yorkers-vote-in-congressional-primaries-june-28 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6380:new-yorkers-vote-in-congressional-primaries-june-28 rangel voting congress new york

Rep. Charles Rangel is retiring (photo via Rep. Rangel on Flickr)


While many voters and most media are focused on the race for President, this year will also see all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 34 of the 100 U.S. Senate seats on the ballot. New York’s 27 seats in the House and one of its two Senate seats - the one held by Senator Charles Schumer -  will be voted on during June 28 primaries and the November 8 general election.

In an odd - some say counterproductive and undemocratic - twist, New York is holding four election days this year. Many New Yorkers have already had the chance to vote in one election this year—the April 19 presidential primaries—and, in the fall, will have the opportunity to vote in September state Senate and state Assembly primary elections before the general election with all of the aforementioned offices on the ballot.

Ahead of the June 28 congressional primaries, things are largely quiet in New York City’s 13 districts, though a few incumbents are being challenged and there is one particularly prominent primary - that to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel. Rangel is one of three congressional incumbents across the state not seeking reelection this year.

Twelve of New York City’s 13 districts are currently represented by Democrats, with the exception of District 11, which includes Staten Island and part of Brooklyn and is represented by Rep. Daniel Donovan, who is not facing a primary challenge.

Rangel represents New York’s thirteenth congressional district, which includes upper Manhattan and a small part of the Bronx. Rangel has served the area since 1971. His decision to retire has prompted a crowded field eager to fill the rare empty seat. That crowd includes state Senator Adriano Espaillat, who challenged Rangel in both 2012 and 2014. Rangel has endorsed Assembly Member Keith Wright as his chosen successor.

Christine Greer, a political science professor at Fordham University, says that Rangel’s endorsement is a boon to Wright’ campaign. “Having Charlie Rangel’s endorsement is important because Charlie Rangel’s people, who support [Wright], know they have to vote in June, not just in November,” Greer told Gotham Gazette.

Greer says that the June congressional primary is often forgotten, especially since New Yorkers will be asked to go to the polls three other times this year. With a bevy of other Democratic candidates in the running, Rangel’s endorsement could indeed be a difference-maker. It is a virtual certainty that the Democratic primary winner will win the general election in November and be seated in Congress come January.

Along with Wright and Espaillat, other Democratic primary candidates in NY13 are Assembly Member Guillermo Linares, Adam Clayton Powell IV, Clyde Williams, Suzan Johnson Cook, and Michael Gallagher.

In New York City, several Democratic congressional incumbents will face primary challengers, though they are expected to win reelection easily:

In District 5, which is located largely in Queens, incumbent Rep. Gregory Meeks will face Ali Mirza, a businessman and advocate for immigrants, according to his campaign website.

In District 7,  which is mostly located in Brooklyn, incumbent Rep. Nydia Valázquez will face two Democratic challengers: Jeff Kurzon and Yungman Lee. Kurzon, an attorney, challenged Valázquez in 2014, but lost to the 24 year-incumbent. Lee is a community banker, who has worked as an attorney and a bank regulator, according to his campaign website.

In District 10, mostly in Manhattan, incumbent Rep. Jerrold Nadler will take on his first Democratic primary challenger in 20 years - Oliver Rosenberg. Rosenberg is a businessman, a banker, and advocate for the LGBTQ Jewish community, according to his campaign website.

In District 12, which includes parts of Manhattan and Queens, incumbent Rep. Carolyn Maloney is being challenged by Pete Lindner, who, according to his campaign website, is a statistical analyst and advocate for the national legalization of marijuana.

In District 15, in the Bronx, José Serrano, the incumbent, has served the district for 26 years. Democratic challenger Leonel Baez will also be on the ballot; however, it does not seem that Baez has made a strong effort to campaign (his official campaign website is limited).

Meanwhile, several city-based races appear that they will see incumbents unopposed in the primary. This will also be the case outside New York City. However, there will also be a number of contested races leading to November’s Election Day, especially in places considered swing districts, where Republicans and Democrats have recently held the same seat or where party registration numbers are closer than they are in many heavily-Democratic New York City districts.

Within the bounds of New York City, only one congressional seat appears open to party oscillation - the eleventh congressional district, which includes Staten Island and part of Southern Brooklyn. That congressional seat is currently held by Daniel Donovan, a Republican, who succeeded his predecessor Michael Grimm in a 2015 special election called after Grimm pleaded guilty to tax fraud. Even while facing charges in 2014, Grimm had kept his seat in a reelection bid.

Donovan, formerly the Staten Island District Attorney, is heavily favored to keep the seat, though Richard Reichard, the Democratic challenger, and his supporters are looking to see how a likely Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump presidential matchup could help lift down-ballot Democrats.  

David Birdsell, a professor and dean at Baruch College, doubts that the race will be competitive.

“This seat has seen a good deal of turnover in recent years, owing to redistricting and to incumbents’ personal and legal troubles. Donovan won the special election handily against a Democrat and a Green Party candidate; he’s drawing the same mix in the fall,” said Birdsell.

Despite believing that there won’t be much of a district 11 contest in November, Birdsell concedes that Trump’s candidacy could potentially boost Democratic voter turnout.  “[Trump’s candidacy] could help Reichard in the eleventh, irrespective of what Republican voters think of Donovan’s willingness to campaign on Trump’s behalf. There isn’t compelling evidence as yet that Trump has expanded GOP appeal, but he could yet deliver on the promise of lots of independent votes, and that could make a major difference in the other direction. Probably not enough so to make a difference in any city races with the possible exception of the eleventh.”

While New Yorkers will vote for their congressional representatives in the House and for President come November, there will also be one New York Senate seat on the ballot as well as all 213 seats of the state Legislature. Incumbent Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer will be running for reelection against Republican candidate Wendy Long and Libertarian candidate Alex Merced. If Schumer wins, he would enter his fourth six-year term serving as a senator.

As of now, New York’s two Senators are Democrats, as are 18 of its 27 congressional representatives. However, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House are both controlled by Republicans. November’s elections will determine control of both houses, as well as the presidency.

Within New York, Democrats hold an overwhelming majority in the state Assembly, with more than 100 of the Assembly’s 150 seats. The state Senate has a much more complicated picture, with its 63 seats split in somewhat strange fashion and control of the chamber on the line in November. Republicans currently hold 31 seats, not quite a majority, but one Democrat, Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, continues to caucus with them. There are also five members of the Independent Democratic Conference, which has a governing coalition with Republicans through this year. Democrats recently flipped one seat in a special election, that for the Long Island seat vacated by former Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who was convicted on federal corruption charges.

In terms of party control of government and the policy ramifications thereof, there is a great deal at stake for New York and the country come November 8.

For the upcoming New York congressional primaries June 28, only voters registered with a party can vote - voters can check their registration through the state Board of Elections. New voters had to register several weeks ago to be eligible for this vote, while anyone changing party registration had to do so more than a year ago.

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by Rebecca Oh, Gotham Gazette
@GothamGazette

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New Yorkers Vote in Congressional Primaries June 28 Mon, 06 Jun 2016 04:00:00 +0000