It was another momentous Election Day in the United States as the Republican Party swept to power in the US Senate, taking at least seven new seats and as many as 10 depending on the final results of Alaska and Virginia, which are still too close to call, and Louisiana, where there will be a run-off in December. The GOP also surprised in taking gubernatorial races in the very liberal states of Massachusetts and Illinois, home state of President Barack Obama.
Meanwhile in New York State and Rockland County, Democrats fared better, albeit with some crucial Republican victories. Democrat incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo won a victory over conservative Republican Rob Astorino. He only defeated his underfunded opponent by 13 percentage points (54 – 41 percent), even though polls had predicted a 25 percent victory margin. Cuomo’s win carried statewide Democrat incumbents Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to relatively easy reelection victories.
In the closely watched 17th Congressional District (all of Rockland, parts of Westchester) Nita Lowey (D) defeated Chris Day (R) 56 – 44 percent. Though originally considered a long shot campaign, Day had gained considerable traction in the past month, leading to optimism that he could pull off the upset. Upstate a few miles, incumbent Democrat Congressman Sean Maloney narrowly beat out former Congresswoman Nan Hayworth 50 – 48 percent in the 18th District. Overall Republican picked up three House seats in New York and the state’s delegation now stands at 16 Democrats and nine Republicans.
Republicans picked up three seats in the New York Senate to regain majority control and end their reliance on a power-sharing agreement with the breakaway cohort “Independent Democrats Conference,” which has included Rockland’s Senator David Carlucci (D). The Republicans have indicated they will continue to allow the IDC to sit with their caucus, but the IDC influence figures to be nullified. Senators Bill Larkin (R) and Carlucci (D), who each represent part of Rockland, both won by wide margins, while all incumbent Democratic assemblyman in the county also won.
Orange County Clerk Annie Rabbitt’s old seat in the 98th Assembly District is still up in the air as Republican Karl Brabenec and Democrat Maria Tutini are neck and neck, with Tutini holding a 10 vote lead pending absentee ballots and likely court challenges. In the 97th Assembly District Robert Romanowski (R) performed better than expected with 41.5 percent of the vote in the heavily Democratic district, as a portion of the religious bloc vote bailed on Ellen Jaffee (D) at the last second due to several positions she had taken. Romanowski is one of the last non-Haredi Jews living on Maple Ave. in the heart of Monsey.
Rockland Republicans picked up a big win by Lon Hofstein, who successfully captured County Executive Ed Day’s old legislative seat in New City, providing the GOP with a veto-proof six member Republican county legislative caucus come January 1. Hoftein won 2,801 to 2,639 (51.4 to 48.5 percent) pending the counting of absentee ballots. The Democrats won the open seat in the County Court as Clarkstown Town Justice Rolf Thorsen earned a 10-year term with a 62 – 38 percent victory over New Hempstead trustee and local attorney Michael Koplen.
The proposed county charter was approved 57 – 43 percent in spite of pleas from Ed Day that it be rejected so term limits could be added on next year.
Montgomery Delaney (R) won a seat in the New York State Supreme Court.
In Suffern, the Republicans look to have swept village board and village justice races, bolstered by dissatisfaction over state comptroller reports that the village is the most fiscally stressed in the state and a late season gaffe by Democratic incumbents Jo Corrigan and John Meehan, who mistakenly sent out literature featuring a photo of downtown Haverstraw instead of Suffern. Winners Edward Markunas and Robert Morris won trustee seats with vote totals of 1,457 and 1,420 respectively to 1,402 for Corrigan and 1,379 for Meehan. Absentee ballots remain to be counted. Ernest Buonocore won village justice with over 57.6 percent of the vote.
Recent election years in the United States have seen momentous shifts in power. In 2006, Democrats rose to power as support for President George W. Bush cratered, leading to the Republicans’ famously described “thumping” at the polls. In 2008 it was the historic election of the nation’s first African American president along with sizable majorities for the Democrats in both houses of Congress, while 2010 saw a backlash to the Democrats and Obamacare and a big GOP win in the House of Representatives. Then in 2012 the balance of power remained in tact as Obama pulled out a victory over Mitt Romney in spite of a very weak economy.
Obama’s fortunes have deteriorated rapidly since his 2012 victory, as his administration has been plagued by numerous scandals and controversies and an increasing perception of weak leadership on various issues including immigration chaos, the rise of ISIS terrorists in the Middle East and the recent Ebola outbreak. Obama’s health care legislation, the always controversial Affordable Care Act, has seen a decrease in popularity in recent months. A double digit hike in health care insurance premiums is expected to be announced later this month.