Nationally, the 2017 election is being called a blue wave. Here in New York, it is more like a two-level pool. On the shallow end, near-record low turnout in New York City where tepid enthusiasm for winner Bill de Blasio kept voters out of the water. In the deep end, the surrounding suburbs where upsets drowned out Republican-safe seats like a cannonball splash of revolt.
Water-metaphors aside, (we promise) – The counties of Nassau, Westchester, and Erie all saw shocking upsets. Nassau elected its first female county executive, beating Republican stalwart Jack Martins. It is also Nassau’s first Democrat County executive in decades. In Westchester, the challenger, State Senator George Latimer was successful painting incumbent Republican Rob Astorino as a Trump ally, with Latimer declaring victory shortly before 11 pm.
The Democrat trendline extended from Long Island’s Town of Hempstead, electing its first democrat in 100 years with Town Supervisor, Laura Gillen to Erie County where the legislature lost its Republican majority to Democrats, and on to the North Country where even more Democrats found solid wins.
Where the president of the United States is usually held responsible for the nation’s discontent, this year he has company. A Republican majority that swept into power in 2016 is now short on promised accomplishments and long on collapsing initiatives, like healthcare, immigration and even taxes with Republican congressmen Peter King and Lee Zeldin both opting out of the Republican tax plan.
We’ve seen these upsets before – think ’10 when the GOP swept congress. This, however, is a little different. We’re seeing a visceral reaction to the national debate, one running down the ballot and ousting our neighbors from long safe seats in towns and counties.
Will the wave continue on to the 2018 midterms? That depends on whether Republicans can achieve a popular and substantive policy victory in the next year. But that will be difficult as such a victory will be only the first, with little time left to accomplish more.
As for the back-of-ballot initiatives, the Adirondack / Catskill land bank appears to be headed for passage. Pensions for felonious electeds is a no-brainer win and that constitutional convention? Lost in a landslide. Our democracy here in New York is apparently more eventful and interesting than we anticipated.