One Month And Counting: NYS Races Are Runaways
HENRY J. STERN
Election Day is less than 1 month from today, and in New York State everyone predicts Democratic victories by wide margins. The undecided issue now is whether this momentum will enable the Democrats to gain control of the State Senate, which has been Republican since 1966 (40 years).
At this time, the Republicans hold 35 seats and the Democrats 27. If the Democrats win four Republican seats, the parties will be tied at 31-31. If the new Lieutenant Governor is David Paterson, which appears likely, he will vote for the Democrat, so four turnovers are needed for the Democrats to take control of both houses of the State Legislature. The Assembly has been gerrymandered into a Democratic majority that exceeds two to one.
The United States Senate has been Republican since 1995.
The Senate Democrats (including independent Bernard Sanders of Vermont and independent candidate Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, now hold 45 seats, the Republicans have 55. The Democrats will need to pick up six seats to organize the Senate, since a 50-50 tie would be broken by Vice President Cheney, whose allegiances are well known.
Some 33 Senate seats are being contested this year. According to the New York Times, there are 13 safe Democratic seats and seven safe Republican seats. There are six leaning Democratic: (Washington, Montana, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Maryland); two (Arizona and Virginia) are leaning Republican. Five seats are regarded as toss-ups (Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, New Jersey and Rhode Island).
If the leaners go as predicted, the Democrats would have to win all five toss-ups to get the minimum of 51 votes they need. So at this time the Republicans appear to have an advantage, unless the Foley affair and events yet to come swing more seats to the Democrats. Digressing for a moment, if any reader is curious as to the instant messaging of Maf54 (Foley), he (or she) can find the link online. Remember, however, e-mail is evidence mail.
Turning back to New York State, this is the first time in my recollection that all the state-wide elections have appeared to be one-sided. The primaries were more vigorously fought than the general election is likely to be. Although the action will probably warm up somewhat as Election Day, Nov. 8, approaches, the results are not now considered to be in doubt. Nonetheless, in politics anything can happen, ask the former Congressman from Florida or the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Where one candidate is far ahead of his/her rival, it is very difficult for the candidate who is behind to raise money, since a contribution will not only fail to affect the outcome of the election, but is likely to incur the ill will of the probable winner. This makes it even more difficult for a trailing candidate to attain traction, much less gain on the leader. Elections are now often decided well before they are held.
It is known that Mayor Bloomberg, who did not seek any campaign gifts for himself, was distressed when he saw that people he knew, and people and organizations he had helped financially, were contributing to his opponents. The groups thought they were buying insurance policies because the City Council also helped fund them. They were, however, incurring the displeasure of a man who had supported these charities for years. His chagrin is understandable. And there has been no evidence of any financial retribution to those who made injudicious contributions. Dinner invitations, maybe.
While we are writing about our mayor, we take note of the possible impact of his entering the Presidential race. That would give the State of New York the unprecedented total of four candidates (in alphabetical order, Bloomberg, Clinton, Giuliani and Pataki, two of them Republicans, one independent and one Democrat). We welcome the mayor’s consideration of a candidacy, real or not, because it adds to his national stature. He is organizing more than 100 mayors on behalf of gun control and will pursue other issues which falter in a Congress dominated by rurals. The fact that both Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger are not considered as competitors for President adds credibility to their joint civic endeavors. The mayor’s alliance with Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida on improving education shows an inclination to reach out for allies, which is unfortunately no longer a widespread practice in our divided and partisan Congress.
It was 514 years ago that, looking for India, Columbus landed in the Bahamas. Think of what has happened since.