The Morning After
You can forgive Democrats both nationally and in New York State for having a bit of a hang-over today and Republicans for going through the first stages of grief. It’s one thing to lose, it’s another to get thumped. And make no mistake about it, on both the state and national level Republicans got thumped. Here are some sleep deprived initial takeaways from the election.
Congressmen endorsed by the Association did well, which is impressive because some of these races were among the most competitive in the country. Republican Chris Collins is ahead of 1st-term Democrat Kathy Hochul 51%-49% in the 27th Congressional District in Western NY. Hochul was one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the State and in the end the redrawn district she was in was too conservative for anyone with a Democratic label. I don’t know if this result is official yet.
Another Association-endorsed candidate, former Congressman Dan Maffei, won his rematch against first-term Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle in the 24th Congressional District, although Buerkle has not yet conceded defeat. Buerkle was the most conservative member of New York’s delegation to win election in the 2010 Republican Wave and as the wave ebbed Maffei took advantage of increased Democratic turnout in a Presidential election year to get his seat back.
Other Association-endorsed candidates who won included Richard Hanna (22nd Congressional District), Grace Meng (6th Congressional District) who leaves the Assembly to take the Queens seat, and Hakeem Jeffries (8th Congressional District).
Since Republicans made some of their largest gains in New York’s Congressional races two years ago, it was expected that Democrats would target some of these Republicans. In addition to the defeat of Buerkle, first-term Hudson Valley Republican Nan Hayworth was defeated. At about 1:30 this morning it was reported that Hayworth had conceded defeat to her opponent, former Clinton staffer Sean Patrick Maloney. The loss of her Hudson Valley seat was part of a general Democratic surge which was particularly pronounced in the Hudson Valley.
State Senate Results
It appears that the State Senate Democrats have had one of the most successful nights in their history. Going into the election, they needed to pick up four seats to regain control of the State Senate. Although many of the races are too close to call, it appears that they have accomplished their goal, or at least come tantilizingly close. But the apparent Democratic surge means that you better get used to hearing about the independent caucus, a group of four Senate Democrats who caucus together and now will hold the balance of power in the chamber. This means that caucus leader Jeff Klein has become one of the most important people in Albany and that we may not know who actually controls what for several weeks to come. The results are all the more remarkable since this was the first year after new lines were drawn up by the Republican majority. For decades, the Senate has given Republicans a share of the state’s power by bucking a huge Democratic enrollment edge in the State to almost continuously hold a Republican majority. My biggest takeway of the night is that this may well have been the election where the Republican success turned into a pumpkin and the numbers just overwhelmed them. The biggest upset was the apparent defeat of long-time State Senator Stephen Saland in the Hudson Valley. The Senator has not yet conceded defeat and it could be weeks before the process plays out, but Terry Gipson holds a lead of about 1,600 votes in the 41st State Senate District and you typically don’t see this type of lead overcome with absentee ballots.
No election highlights how a bad a night it was for the Republicans better than the 46th Senate District, where Kathy Tkaczyk, as of 7:20 this morning led Assemblyman George Amedore by 139 votes for the 46th Senate District seat in the Capital Region. This one is too close to call even though the Assemblyman declared victory early in the night. This seat was created specifically to give Republicans an extra upstate seat.
Democrats were able to retain an open seat in Westchester of the retiring Suzi Oppenheimer, where Democrat George Latimer easily won the 37th Senate District seat. They also retained the Queens seat held by Senator Joseph Addabbo. This was probably the most expensive Legislative race in the state, but in the end, Hurricane Sandy, which badly damaged the district, changed the dynamics of a contest that was too close to call heading into the final week. One other big victory for the Democrats was Ted O’Brien who beat Republican Sean Hanna in the 55th Senate District. The seat had been held by long-term Republican Senator James Alessi.
Just a few quick thoughts about the national results. If you told Republicans six months ago that they would actually lose seats in the U.S. Senate, I would have had you committed or dismissed you as a political neophyte. But it appears that this is exactly what they have accomplished. In addition, if you look at the state by state results, the election was incredibly close, but the bottom line is that the Republican Party spent over $1 billion to take Indiana and North Carolina back into their electoral college column, which is hardly the type of return you’d want on your investment. The optimist in me says that the Republican Party will wake up, realize that ideological extremism is the road to ruin and we will actually start seeing Congress consider meaningful legislation on a bi-partisan basis. But I am not an optimist, so the upcoming lame duck session provides an absolutely critical window for credit unions to get their MBL legislation passed before the partisan warfare begins again.
By the way, Elizabeth Warren won in Massachusetts. This means that the first de facto head of the CFPB who was tormented in numerous hearings by Senate Republicans has exacted her revenge by knocking off Republican Scott Brown. Warren is the most outspoken proponent of changing the financial industry and whether you agree or disagree with her, her victory means that C-SPAN might become some of the best reality TV on cable.
One last thought, this was the first election where Hispanics made up 10% of the national vote. Times are changing, and unless Republicans start realizing that they can’t rely on aging white men to bring them election victories, the party will become increasingly obsolete. The party will, of course, adapt as winning is a lot more fun than ideological purity. Is there a lesson there for credit unions? You betcha.