No Surprises In Statewide Races

No Surprises In Statewide Races

No Surprises In Statewide Races
November 5, 2014

The state Democratic Party’s election headquarters ran like clockwork on Tuesday night. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his running mate, Kathy Hochul, were declared winners right at 9 p.m. and took the stage roughly an hour later, after New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Mayor Bill de Blasio warmed up the crowd. The efficiency of the event was apt, considering the first four years of the Cuomo administration, which has made a point of running state government efficiently.

The final tally was Cuomo with 54 percent of the vote to Republican Rob Astorino’s 40.6 percent, with Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins receiving 4.9 percent.

Shortly after Cuomo’s speech, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman addressed smaller crowds, following comfortable victories over their respective opponents, Bob Antonacci and John Cahill.  DiNapoli secured 60 percent of the vote. Schneiderman ended up with 55.5 percent.

With all three races going as expected, the focus of most political insiders was on the vote totals for governor by political party. 

In New York State, the ballot is set for the next four years based on which party receives the most votes. Four years ago, the Democrats grabbed line A, the Republicans line B, the Conservative party line C and the Working Families Party (WFP) got line D, and so on.  In order to make it on the ballot, a party’s candidate for governor needs to receive 50,000 votes.

Heading into the night, there was real concern that the Working Families Party could miss the threshold due to a variety of factors. Some party members who are disillusioned with Cuomo, the candidate on their ballot line, were expected to vote for Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins. Also complicating things was Cuomo’s creation of the Women’s Equality Party, which could have pulled votes away from the WFP.

At the end of the night, the Working Families Party easily secured the necessary number of votes, but came in fifth place among the parties. The Conservative Party, which backed Rob Astorino, held onto the third spot on the ballot. And the Green Party moved up to the fourth position, which could have a significant impact on the electoral landscape for the next four years. Unlike most other third parties in New York State the Green Party does not cross-endorse Democrats or Republicans, instead choosing to recruit and run its own candidates. And, in the fourth position on the ballot the Greens will almost always be on the same visual line as the major party candidates in a race. Finding Green Party candidates' names more easily on the ballot could lead to more votes, pulling votes away from other candidates – most likely Democrats.

Also making the ballot—barely—was the state Independence Party, which backed the Cuomo-Hochul ticket.  The Women’s Equality Party supported by Cuomo and Hochul appears to have made the 50,000 vote threshold as well, though it may come down to a recount to confirm that.

 

PROPOSITIONS PASS

Voters overwhelming approved the three propositions on the ballot. The most controversial was Proposition 1, which established a new redistricting process. Good government groups have been at odds over the bill. Citizens Union supported it, while Common Cause NY opposed the plan. The two sides debated the points of the vote in a forum hosted by City & State a few weeks ago.

Proposition 2 was a measure allowing the state to pass legislation without printing bills. Proposition 3 was a $2 billion bond act to provide technology upgrades in schools.

 

ASSEMBLY INCUMBENTS IN TROUBLE

Overlooked amid all the attention on the state Senate battle and the congressional surprises were poor performances from several Assembly Democrats.

Incumbent Ed Hennessey trails his challenger Dean Murray by 629 votes, a potentially insurmountable edge in the race for the Long Island seat.  Hudson Valley incumbent Democrat Tom Abinanti trails his Republican challenger Mike Duffy by 38 votes, which means the race will likely be decided in court. And in the North Country, incumbent Democrat Addie Russell is down by 117 votes to Republican John Byrne.

Another Democrat who faced a scare is Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, who leads by just 137 votes over her Republican challenger Michael Kelsey.  

Michael Gareth Johnson
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