Evaluating the 2010 Election Results for NYS

The results are in. Now let’s look ahead to see what they mean for New Yorkers.

House of Representatives: The GOP gained 5 seats in New York and should have gained a 6th had it not been for 1100 voters in the 23rd district who voted for Greg Hoffman on the Conservative Party line. Hoffman had withdrawn from the race and thrown his support to Republican Doheny, but some people either didn’t get that message or felt the need to vote on the Conservative line knowing full well that their vote could return a Democrat to Congress. An upstate Tea Party group, which had supported Hoffman in the primary, endorsed Doheny in the general election.

One seat – that held currently by Democrat Dan Maffei in the 25th C.D. – will go to the absentee ballots.

Attorney General: Dan Donovan failed to make an issue out of the fact that Eric Schneiderman promised to make his office a beachhead for special interests. He was a reluctant candidate to begin with and apparently ran too low keyed a campaign to excite the voters. Schneiderman ran a smart campaign focusing on his core constituencies, knowing that he didn’t need many votes from independents or Republicans to win.

Comptroller: Harry Wilson was not prepared to defend his ties to Wall Street and allowed Tom DiNapoli to paint the race as a battle between Wall Street versus Main Street. Nevertheless, DiNapoli garnered less than 50 percent of the vote with the Green Party and Libertarians pulling in 2.4 and 0.7 percent of the votes respectively.

U.S. Senate: No surprises. Neither Republican challenger caught fire. It’s possible that Kirsten Gillibrand would have been vulnerable had she been running in a year when neither an Andrew Cuomo nor a Chuck Schumer on the ballot. With those two at the top of the ticket, Gillibrand’s success was a mere formality.

Governor: The Buffalo News headline hit the name on the head. Carl Paladino was his own worst enemy. Rick Lazio would have done better, but not nearly well enough to win. Paladino says he may run for Mayor in Buffalo. I doubt he could win a GOP committee seat in his own ward.

NYS Senate: The Republicans may have done what they had to do to recapture the State Senate. They won 30 races to the Democrats’ 29 with three undecided. Who controls the Senate depends on the outcome of races in the 7th district, where Republican challenger Jack Martins is leading Democratic incumbent Craig Johnson, in the 37th district, where challenger Bob Cohen is leading Democratic incumbent Suzi Oppenheimer, and in the 60th where incumbent Antoine Thompson is behind challenger Mark Grisanti.

The Democrats won important races in the 58th where Tim Kennedy defeated Assemblyman Jack Quinn, in the 38th where David Carlucci defeated Scott Vanderhoef in an open seat, and in the 11th where Tony Avella defeated incumbent Frank Padavan who was first elected to the Senate in 1972.

The Republicans gained seats in the 48th where incumbent Darrell Aubertine was defeated by Patty Richie, in the 59th where Patrick Gallivan won the seat held by Dale Volker, and in the 53rd where Tom O’Mara.

NYS Assembly: The Republicans picked up at least seven seats. They will still not have enough votes to make much noise, but their leader Brian Kolb of Canandaigua did a nice job for his party.

The Parties:

Democrats: The Democrats can choose to focus on the statewide races where they were highly successful or the Congressional and Legislative races where for the most part they were not. Key will be whether the Republicans gain control of the Senate, which would force the Democrats to compromise in re-drawing Congressional and Legislative district lines.

Republicans: The Republicans can look back on 2010 and wonder what could have been. While they did well gaining seats in the House of Representatives and the State Legislature, their statewide candidates ran the spectrum from boring to bizarre. When party leaders were unable to convince George Pataki or Rudy Giuliani to run against Kirsten Gillibrand and had to turn to a Democrat as their preferred gubernatorial candidate, they exposed the fact that their bench is very thin. They now have four years to work on that problem.

Conservative Party: The Conservative Party was exposed in 2010 as a party whose best days are in the past. The rise of the Tea Party points to the fact that the Conservative Party has no resonance with the voting public. The Conservatives used to have the Republican Party over a barrel. The Tea Party movement may push them aside in that regard. The major accomplishment of the Conservative Party in 2010? Costing the Republicans another seat in the House of Representatives.

Tea Party: Not a political party at this point, but a collection of local grassroots groups of people who are willing to get off their couches to attend a meeting sign a petition and join a rally, the Tea Party movement may fade out of existence or it may form the basis of a paradigm shift in American politics. It’s too soon to tell. In New York, Delaware and Nevada a major weaknesses of the movement came through: if you run candidates who disrespect the political process to the point where they fail to understand how it works, then you will not win many races. Carl Paladino had a chance to make waves, but his arrogance in the face of Albany’s dysfunctional government cost him that opportunity. His lack of concrete solutions and bizarre proposals turned off voters who knew better than he what can and what cannot be done. Converting prisons into welfare training schools. Come on!

Green Party: Howie Hawkins did his job. He got his party 50,000 votes which means they’ll be on the ballot in 2014. The Green’s candidate for Attorney General Julia Willibrand ran well ahead of her party, garnering nearly 100,000 votes. I believe her vote reflects the success Tom DiNapoli had painting Harry Wilson as Wall Street’s candidate. Democrats who didn’t want to support Albany insider DiNapoli voted for Willibrand instead.

Libertarian Party: Warren Redlich ran a quixotic campaign running against Carl Paladino as his main opponent. The Libertarians failed to get 50,000 votes and no doubt Warren will not be their candidate next time around.

Albany in 2011:

Andrew Cuomo reportedly gave out copies of “Hugh Carey and the Great Fiscal Crisis of 1975” to union leaders. Why? Because when Hugh Carey became governor he was greeted with the possibility that New York City would default on its debt, the consequences of which were too drastic to contemplate. Remind you of the fiscal crisis of 2008? It should.

Carey’s great accomplishment as a politician was recognizing that there are times where you have to put aside your personal ideological preferences to deal with an unpleasant reality. Andrew Cuomo seems to be ready to deal with the real world problems facing New York State, If he can convince Sheldon Silver and the state’s union leaders to do the same, it’s possible that we’ll be reading books ten years from now about how Andrew Cuomo helped the state avert fiscal collapse.

Stay tuned for my review of the book on Hugh Carey on Susan Arbetter’s The Capitol Pressroom some time in the near future and in print here on the Empire Page.


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