Last week’s primary did not hold a great deal of surprises, but it did reveal that the endorsement of Mayor Bill de Blasio has reach in Queens and Brooklyn.
With State Senator John Sampson (recently indicted) and State Senator Tony Avella (under party fire, not legal fire), some of the mayor’s endorsed candidates were successful in the Democratic Primary. And de Blasio completed the hat-trick with Leroy Comrie defeating State Senator Malcolm Smith (who is facing bribery charges).
Some of the mayor’s preferred candidates were not successful, but these particular contests told a story about the city and state. People want less polarization in Albany, with ideology perhaps playing a part later.
Endorsements are not something that make or break campaigns. In fact, some of our elected officials did not even have their own party’s endorsement when they first ran for offices they eventually won. For example, Joe Addabbo, Jr. was not the Democratic Party’s choice in 2001 when he ran for City Council.
Ultimately, the candidate has to win on his or her own merits, but de Blasio’s endorsement in the 11th District in northeast Queens was enough to tell progressive voters that Tony Avella was a safe enough bet. It was enough to give Avella those 500 votes to stave off John Liu.
The importance of that election last week in Bayside is going to matter in New York State politics for the next two years. Avella’s independent style means good news for people who write about politics because there is less predictability.
New York’s 21st CD
If Republican Elise Stefanik, running in New York's 21st Congressional District, can hold on to the lead that polls suggest she has over Democrat Aaron Woolf, she will be the only Republican woman in the party’s already small congressional delegation.
Stefanik is trending at a ten-point lead in the open-seat election, which is due to incumbent Democrat Bill Owens choosing not to seek re-election. Not many seats change party affiliation in congressional elections, even when they occur in midterms, but this could be one of them.
Those who follow New York State politics are constantly trying to figure out the direction that Long Island and upstate New York will take, which is no small task. Upstate was trending conservative up until just under a decade ago.
Stefanik being elected to Congress would give the New York delegation some added diversity, but it would also provide a signal that upstate politics is still not a comfortable lock for either party.
Very Close in New York’s 1st CD
Democratic Congressman Tim Bishop has successfully defended his seat in the 1st Congressional District in the past, and this year he is in a race that polling suggests is very close.
Republican State Senator Lee Zeldin is mounting a challenge with not very much in campaign funds, following a primary challenge that caused him to spend more than he would have liked. Will money make the difference? If it does, the Suffolk County district will go in Bishop’s direction.
Bishop has a tendency to weather difficult storms, narrowly winning re-election in his last two contests, but Zeldin is close to the margin of error in polling.
Nobody sees this year’s midterm as being too dramatic – the Republicans will most likely hold control of the House and may have a chance at a razor thin majority in the Senate - but if two seats change hands in New York, that would be an interesting signal that upstate New York and Long Island are in nobody’s back pocket ideologically.