Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn’

A Grimm Solution

In House on December 23, 2014 at 10:20 am

Despite being under indictment for 20 counts of various financial felony charges, New York Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY-11) was handily re-elected (53-41 percent) to a third term in office last month, but he soon may be forced to resign.

Reports emanating from New York City indicate that Grimm will plead guilty to one count of felony tax evasion at a hearing later today. He obviously hopes to avoid a prison term, though a sentence of between 24 and 30 months appears highly possible.

Clearly, if he goes to prison Rep. Grimm will be forced to resign his congressional office, and most likely the felony guilty plea will make it legally impossible for him to continue even if he isn’t incarcerated. To become a congressional candidate, one must legally qualify as an elector. Since he will lose his voting privileges upon conviction, Grimm will no longer qualify to serve in Congress.

A pending resignation means Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) will schedule a special election to fill the subsequent vacancy. The 11th District comprises all of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn. Almost two-thirds of the district includes Staten Island, which gives us an indication as to why favorite son Grimm did so well in this district despite his legal problems. Ironically, despite his indictments becoming a major issue in the just-completed campaign, his 2014 performance was the strongest of his three winning efforts for the seat.
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Turner Win Endangers Upstate NY Democrats

In House, Redistricting on September 16, 2011 at 11:48 am

Representative-elect Bob Turner’s (R-NY-9) special election victory in Anthony Weiner’s vacated Queens/Brooklyn congressional district carries greater ramifications for the New York Democratic Party than merely losing a seat that was theirs for the taking. With the Empire State losing two districts in reapportionment, the Turner victory will now likely put at least one upstate Democrat on the political hot seat.

In New York, as in most other states, redistricting is handled through the normal state legislative process. Democrats control two of the three levers of political power here: the Governor’s office and the state Assembly. Republicans have a small majority in the state Senate. This gives both parties a seat at the redistricting table and will send the map to court unless the political leaders can reach a compromise.

Since losing representation is nothing new for this delegation, the traditional method of deciding which seats to collapse is to divide them evenly between the two political parties. Such will likely be the 2012 outcome, too, even though the Democrats have a 21-8 majority in the current NY congressional lineup.

Typically those in power collapse the least senior members’ seats. It is clear that the Democrats will want to collapse Turner’s 9th District, because it is fertile territory that can be used to shore up their other districts. All 29 seats are under-populated, hence the reason the state is dropping two more seats. Thus, if Mr. Turner, the newest freshman, is to see his 9th CD divided among the others in the city, the map drawers will then be looking upstate to collapse a Democratic district. Before, it was assumed that the Democratic loss would come in the city and an upstate Republican would likely be drawn out. Because of Turner’s surprise victory this past Tuesday, it is likely that the tables have turned.

If you look at the population numbers for each of New York’s 29 seats, the district needing the greatest influx of people is that of 82-year-old congressional veteran Louise Slaughter (D). Her 28th District is 105,869 individuals under zero-deviation quota. The district boundaries stretch from Niagara Falls to Rochester and many people believe its configuration resembles a set of headphones. The adjacent district, Rep. Brian Higgins’ (D) 27th District, which encompasses Buffalo and travels southwest along the Lake Erie coastline to the Pennsylvania border, needs an additional 88,436 people and is the state’s second-most under-populated seat. Clearly, the simple mathematics suggests that a pairing of these two sparse seats is a distinct possibility.

Keeping within the practice of “last in; first out,” then freshman Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-NY-26) could also become a target. Ms. Hochul won a special election earlier this year after Rep. Christopher Lee (R) resigned. Her seat stretches between Buffalo and Rochester but contains no portion of either city. It is always easier to collapse a district that lies in the middle of a region rather than one in a corner, and the 26th certainly fits this criteria.

A more intriguing option for the Democrats, however, might be to sacrifice Rep. Bill Owens in the 23rd District. In what should still be a Republican seat, the GOP badly bungled the 2010 special election and the succeeding general vote to elect the novice Democratic politician. Since the 23rd is high on the national GOP’s conversion target list, collapsing this particular seat would almost serve the same purpose as taking another Republican district away. The worst case Democratic scenario would be to sacrifice another member and then lose the Owens seat, too. Giving up the 23rd might mitigate their losses and become the safe play.

Other elimination possibilities are the districts of Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY-22) and Nita Lowey (D-NY-18). Both are down approximately 40,000 in population, and each member is over 70 years of age and has considered retirement possibilities. If either of the two decides not to seek re-election, then the choice of which district to collapse becomes easy.

Expect New York to be one of the last states to finish its redistricting process, meaning it will end well into next year. At that time we will finally learn who wins and loses the game of political “Russian Roulette.”

A Republican Double-Header Sweep

In House on September 14, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Thirteen proved to be a lucky number for Republicans, as the party’s candidates won two special congressional elections last night, Sept. 13.

The upset of the political season went to GOP contender Bob Turner, who defeated Democratic state Assemblyman David Weprin, thus converting the vacated Anthony Weiner congressional district to the Republicans. Prior to Weiner’s election to Congress, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) held the 9th district for nine terms before being elected statewide.

Mr. Turner, a retired broadcasting executive, scored a 54-46 percent win in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 57-18 percent count. Only 22 percent of the registered voters participated in the special election, a key reason why the GOP nominee was able to win despite having such a small political base. He scored 48 percent of the vote in the Queens borough, which is NY-9’s population anchor. He won the race, however, in Brooklyn where he attracted an astonishing 69 percent of the vote.

In the closing days of the campaign four pollsters, McLaughlin Associates, Magellan Strategies, Siena College and Public Policy Polling, all produced surveys projecting Turner to be in strong position and headed to victory. Last night’s results certainly proved the pollsters correct. On a side note, the NY election result is a bad sign for President Obama, as his favorability ratings in this heavily Democratic district are poor. Carrying the seat over John McCain with 55 percent of the vote in 2008, the PPP poll showed the President actually trailing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (42-46 percent) and ahead of Texas Gov. Rick Perry by just one percentage point (44-43 percent) in hypothetical presidential match-ups. Obama scores poorly on his handling of the economy and on issues concerning US policy in the Middle East, greatly influenced by the 36 percent of the district’s residents who are members of the Jewish faith.

Turning to the west, former state legislator and Nevada Republican Party chairman Mark Amodei easily won the congressional district seat that was vacated when then-Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV-2) was appointed to the US Senate. Amodei won easily, scoring a 58-37 percent margin of victory over Democratic state Treasurer Kate Marshall. Rep-elect Amodei now becomes an incumbent in a district that touches all 17 of Nevada’s counties, but will likely only occupy the northern half of the state post-redistricting. His toughest electoral challenge may still lie ahead, however. It is likely that 2010 Republican Senatorial nominee Sharron Angle will challenge the new congressman in a Reno-Carson City anchored district during the regular 2011 election cycle. This will be a competitive race despite Mr. Amodei’s short-term incumbency.

Turnout for the Nevada election was much greater than the voter participation level in New York. Approximately 140,000 voters went to the polls to choose a replacement for Mr. Heller, about 35 percent of those registered, slightly higher than the average special congressional election draws.

The Turner victory restores the New York delegation to 21D-8R, the ratio found on election night 2010. Republicans lost the 26th District in a special election earlier in the year, so the two parties have now traded conversion districts.

The current House party division count now stands at 242 Republicans; 192 Democrats; and one vacancy (ex-Rep. David Wu, D-OR-1). The final vacant seat will be filled in a Jan. 31 special election.

Could Elizabeth Holtzman Return in New York’s 9th CD?

In House on July 6, 2011 at 9:38 am

New York City congressional districts.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has set the date for the special election to choose a successor for former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY-9). The vote is set for Sept. 13 and is New York’s second such special congressional election to be held this year, both necessitated to replace congressmen who resigned in disgrace after publicly revealing electronic messages and pictures. This is the same day as primaries for other Empire State offices as well the special election date to fill six vacant state assembly seats.

Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY-7), who represents a district adjacent to NY-9, also serves as the Democratic Party’s chairman for the Borough of Queens. Under New York law, it is the county political party chairmen who choose special election nominees. Because approximately 70 percent of the 9th District is within Queens, Crowley alone has the virtual power to choose the Democratic general election candidate. He is expected to reach a decision in the next day or two.

The congressman reportedly wants “an elder statesman without long-term ambitions” to fill the Weiner seat. He now has the opportunity of ensuring that the new Democratic nominee will allow the 9th CD to be eliminated in redistricting so that Crowley himself can assume much of the Queens territory that was once Weiner’s. New York loses two seats in reapportionment. Such a move will allow him to jettison the Bronx portion of his current district, an area that is becoming heavily Hispanic, and give him a seat wholly within the Borough of Queens. Collapsing the 9th will also mean that Rep. Gary Ackerman’s (D) 5th district, a hybrid seat between Queens and Long Island, will likely survive the redistricting pen, as well.

The person currently being mentioned as having the inside track for the nomination is former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman (D). The ex-representative reportedly reached out to Crowley shortly after Weiner’s resignation and now appears to be the top Democratic prospect.

During her 1970’s tenure in the House (four terms; 1973-1981), Holtzman represented a portion of the current 9th District. She was succeeded by now-Sen. Chuck Schumer (D), whose own election to the Senate opened the door for Weiner to win the congressional seat. Holtzman ended her career in Congress by losing a 1980 U.S. Senate race to then-Nassau County Board of Supervisors Chairman Alfonse D’Amato. She made a political comeback of sorts at the municipal level, winning election in Kings County (Brooklyn) for district attorney and later as New York City comptroller. Her 1992 Democratic primary bid for the right to square off against D’Amato again ended in another Holtzman loss, this time a rather humiliating fourth place finish. An unsuccessful primary fight to retain her party’s nomination for the city comptroller position the next year effectively ended her career in elective politics. Now at age 70, Holtzman may fit the bill of an “elder statesman” who can win the race in September, and will then fade quietly away when the 9th district is eliminated as a casualty of reapportionment.

Should Holtzman be appointed the nominee, she will begin the special election campaign as the favorite but the seat has some chance of becoming competitive as Republicans plan to wage a significant campaign. More will be known when the GOP nominee is actually chosen.
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