Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Posts Tagged ‘Queens’

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.

New York’s 9th CD Keeps Redistricting in State of Flux

In House, Reapportionment on July 12, 2011 at 10:38 am

Bob Turner

The New York political parties have chosen nominees for the Sept. 13 special election to replace resigned Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY-9). State Assemblyman David Weprin is the Democratic standard bearer as designated by the party chairmen in Queens and Kings counties. He also won the Working Families and Independence parties ballot lines. For the Republicans and Conservatives, 2010 nominee Bob Turner gets the nod. It was the New York Conservative Party that led the way for the 70-year-old Turner, nominating him first. Republicans, needing to avoid a split among the right-of-center voters, followed suit over the weekend. Turner spent just shy of $380,000 in his last campaign, including a $103,000 loan from himself. Weiner expended $1.45 million and scored a 57-37 percent win over the Republican/Conservative vote. The congressman’s 2010 percentage was the lowest among all winning New York City incumbent Democrats.

Mr. Weprin, the son of former Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin (D), was elected to the legislature in February 2010, and then won a full term in the regular election. He spent eight years on the New York City Council but lost a bid for comptroller in 2009. He begins the special election campaign as a heavy favorite.

The nomination process ended much differently than originally predicted. Wanting a caretaker who wouldn’t seek re-election in 2012 so that the 9th CD could be collapsed in redistricting, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY-7), also the Borough of Queens Democratic chairman, was eyeing the Queens portion of District 9 for his own new seat. A Weprin victory now suggests that New York congressional redistricting will remain in a state of flux. At 54 years old it is unlikely, should he win, that Weprin will be thinking of retiring after only a year in federal office, especially since he will relinquish a state Assembly seat even before completing an initial two-year term. Because New York is losing two seats in reapportionment, the only thing we know is that two sitting incumbents will not return to the next Congress. Which two are still anyone’s guess.
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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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The Weiner Scandal Winner: Rep. Joe Crowley

In Redistricting on June 15, 2011 at 11:04 am

The Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY-9) sexting scandal could be paying long-term benefits for a neighboring Borough of Queens congressman. Because New York is losing two seats in reapportionment, Rep. Weiner’s once personal, now very public, exploits have made his 9th Congressional District (CD) the No. 1 target in New York for collapsing. Of the state’s 29 CD’s, all of which will require more population in the 2011 redistricting process (which is the fundamental reason for the delegation losing two seats), five of the top 10 under-populated districts reside in New York City.

The current scenario favors neighboring Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY-7), because his Queens/Bronx seat is becoming more heavily minority. This make him potentially vulnerable to a primary challenge from a Hispanic Democrat in the ensuing decade, thus he will want more territory from Queens and less from The Bronx in his new district. Since approximately 70% of Weiner’s district encompasses Queens’ territory, it is easy to combine pieces from both NY-7 and NY-9 into a seat totally within the Borough of Queens.

Of the five CD’s that contain all or part of Queens, Rep. Gregory Meeks’ 6th district is the only seat fully contained within the borough. Adding another Queens-specific CD is at least one of the arguments Mr. Crowley’s personal lobbyist will make in Albany when he attempts to secure a favorable district for the seven-term congressional veteran. Three NY Representatives — Crowley, Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) and Brian Higgins (D-NY-27) — each have hired a personal lobbyist to make specific redistricting arguments to the governing powers in the legislature.

But, what if Weiner resigns? Crowley has that covered, too. In New York, as we have seen in the four other special congressional elections held in the state during the past election cycle, the local county chairmen are the people who choose mid-cycle election nominees. Who is the Borough of Queens Democratic chairman? None other than Rep. Joe Crowley. So, should Weiner resign, it is Crowley who will virtually decide the identity of the next congressman, meaning he will choose someone who won’t run for a full term, making it a virtual certainty that the current 9th district will be one of the disappearing seats.

The other collapsed district will likely come from upstate. The Buffalo/Rochester area seats, numbered 28 (Rep. Louise Slaughter) and 27 (Higgins) need to gain the greatest number of people. Chances are the upstate loss will come from the Republicans.

With a late September primary, New York is typically one of the last states to complete its redistricting process, so the final lines will not be known until well into next year. Since Democrats control the governor’s office and the state Assembly, and Republicans hold the state Senate, the chances of redistricting ending in a legislative deadlock are high — meaning a court-drawn map likely will be the eventual solution.

Regardless of who draws the map, it is relatively clear that one of the lost seats will come from New York City and the other from upstate, with the Long Island districts all moving west, closer to New York City.

While the Weiner scandal is destroying the congressman’s career within the House, its timing is also poor from his personal political perspective. While he may stay in office to finish the current term, Weiner’s long-term congressional career prospects, because of the reapportionment and redistricting scenario described above, are highly unfavorable.
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Weiner’s Real Political Problem

In House, Reapportionment on June 9, 2011 at 5:53 pm

The sexting controversy surrounding Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY-9) rages on in the media, but his ultimate political problem may not be whether to resign. Rather, with New York losing two seats in reapportionment, the scandal could give the legislature all the reason it needs to collapse his 9th district. The other lost seat will certainly come from upstate, probably near the Buffalo area. In terms of redistricting, NY-9 would be relatively easy to cut into pieces. First, it needs an additional 57,401 people just to reach its population quota. Second, because it already contains parts of two boroughs (Kings and Queens) and cuts across New York’s Lower Bay to enjoin other precincts in order to comply with the contiguous requirements, it would be a simple task for map drawers to parcel its distinct parts to other seats.

Two polls of New York City residents were made public yesterday, and it appears that Rep. Weiner has a split constituency regarding his future. According to Survey USA (June 6; 500 New York City residents), 46 percent favor his resignation versus 41 percent who believe he should remain in office. The Marist College poll, conducted on the same day (June 6; 379 NYC registered voters) produces better numbers for the congressman. Fifty-one percent say he should remain in office, while 30 percent believe resignation is his proper course of action.

But when it comes to Weiner’s future mayoral plans — the congressman was a virtual certainty to enter the 2013 city-wide campaign — his numbers dive bomb. Asked if they would vote for Weiner should he run for mayor, just 11 percent of S-USA respondents said they would, versus 43 percent who said, “NO.” An additional 46 percent say it is too early to decide. Marist asked the question a different way, querying the respondents as to whether or not they think he should run for mayor. According to these results, 56 percent say he should not run for Mayor while 25 percent believe he should.
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