NY State 7th District

There's a special election today in New York state, and it's a big one.  Like, party-crushing.  Keep your eye on the Albany Project, the superbly good New York liberal community blog that has been a center of activity.  For decades, New York politics has been controlled by 'three men in a room', the Governor and the leaders of the Assembly and Senate who exercise a dictatorial control over their chambers.  There was a tacit deal, upheld by all major stakeholders in New York politics, that the Senate would remain Republican and the House Democratic, with the Governor flipping back and forth.  The Republican Party in New York state relies on this detente for its survival, otherwise it would look like the nonexistent Republican Party in Massachusetts, which doesn't exist, as I pointed out earlier in this sentence.

Right now the Republicans have a three seat majority in the Senate, and if Craig Johnson wins today, that will narrow to two.  More to the point, if Johnson wins, it will become obvious that the Senate is going to flip in the next two years, and Republicans will head for the exits.  There will be retirements, or even party switchers who don't want to be part of a Republican minority. Enticing offers will be made to every Republican to let the Senate drift to where its natural home should be, in the Democratic camp.  At the same time, if the Republicans win this special election, the stakeholders who backed Spitzer and the Democrats will be frustrated by an extremely vindictive Joe Bruno.  This isn't a standard DC-like fight, Bruno and the Republicans in New York have been extremely good to unions, and many of them (including SEIU's legendary 1199) are going full-bore for the Republican in the race.

There are plenty of dirty tricks already, including robocalls, and voter intimidation. As Lipris at the Albany Project notes, it's really cold, and that's going to affect turnout, and probably not in the way that we want.

There's a really interesting subtext here that goes beyond the standard partisan fighting, which is the conflict between the reformers and the machine people.  If the Democrats win, the Assembly and Senate will be controlled by old school Democrats, with Spitzer as a genuine populist and aggressive reformer.  The progressives in New York are aggressively backing Spitzer, and he tends not to back down in the face of conflict.  New York state government hasn't passed an on-time budget in more than 20 years, it's quite dysfunctional, and there's a bipartisan consensus upholding the corruption that sustains the dysfunction.  It's not going to disappear if Johnson wins today, but it will decline dramatically.  

Being able to govern progressively takes progressive politics, and being able to govern progressively on a national scale takes experimentation at a state level.  Our inability to use the Empire State as a vessel for innovation has hurt us badly, so we should all be rooting for New York Democrats to pull through today.

Tags: Albany Project, Eliot Spitzer, Joe Bruno, New York (all tags)



Re: NY State 7th District

I know Schumer and Spitzer have been involved in this race, but where has Hillary been?  She sits on her laurels when there is a chance to dramatically affect a major state legislature.

by Vox Populi 2007-02-06 06:48AM | 0 recs
Re: NY State 7th District

She's campaigning for Johnson.

by Matt Stoller 2007-02-06 06:49AM | 0 recs
Re: NY State 7th District

Ooops.  Sorry.

by Vox Populi 2007-02-06 07:05AM | 0 recs
Re: NY State 7th District

she was in the district yesterday as was rudy for the GOP candidate. not bad for a tste senate race on long island, huh? two top tier presidential candidates in one day. that should tell you just how seriously both parties are taking this race.

by lipris 2007-02-06 06:52AM | 0 recs
Here she is:

(Don't worry Vox Populi--everybody gets one air ball...)
by Jeffrey Feldman 2007-02-06 11:16AM | 0 recs
Re: NY State 7th District

Good luck New Yorkers!

Seems like "detente" only works when Republicans are the weaker side.  Does anyone believe that if the Republicans came close to taking the NY House, they wouldn't be making an all out effort to swing it.  

by Go Vegetarian 2007-02-06 06:50AM | 0 recs
Re: NY State 7th District

Great post.  This is a hugely important race for Dems in NY.  If Johnson wins, it will be a signal that the old way of doing business is over.  

by John Mills 2007-02-06 06:53AM | 0 recs
Re: NY State 7th District

As regular readers know, I have diaried on this race two or three times on this post.  For those interested here is a link to tne Nassau BOE:

http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/B OE/results.html

I would wait until about 9;45 or 10PM to give the Board a chance after the 9PM close to get the votes counted.

by politics64 2007-02-06 07:28AM | 0 recs

You answered my first question, where to watch the results. Second question: what's known about absentee or vote-by-mail turnout?

by CalifSherry 2007-02-06 01:09PM | 0 recs
Re: politics64

came in last night. the numbers are out there. dems hold a slight edge in returned ballots, like less then a hundred. it was about 790 to 700 or so.

by lipris 2007-02-06 01:32PM | 0 recs
Re: politics64

The ansentee ballots were less than 1500 in total. 599 D, 540 R, 177 no party and about 30 minor party affiliated.

by politics64 2007-02-06 06:01PM | 0 recs
speaking of dirty tricks

here ya go. that sure didn't take long.

by lipris 2007-02-06 07:52AM | 0 recs
A correction

New York passed the budget on time last year - the first time in twenty years.

by thirdestate 2007-02-06 08:14AM | 0 recs
Re: A correction

I believe it passed on time in 2005 and 2006 thanks to lots of editorial pressure/press attention.  It is still a mess overall but a step in the right direction.

by John Mills 2007-02-06 08:23AM | 0 recs

After watching the Andy Stern remarks about 1199 SEIU (health care workers) backing republican state senate candidates (including O'Connell), I noticed that 32BJ SEIU (property service workers) is supporting Craig Johnson on the WFP line.  I am not going to try claim I understand labor issues in this state, and this just confuses me more.  

by jonahinnyc 2007-02-06 08:21AM | 0 recs

Different locals are permitted to do different things.  1199 is larger and more powerful.  I am no fan of 1199 but I am loath to criticize SEIU overall b/c of one local with which I don't agree.

by John Mills 2007-02-06 08:27AM | 0 recs

Thanks.  Just to be clear I don't harbor any bad feelings towards SEIU, I just found the dynamic interesting.

by jonahinnyc 2007-02-06 08:43AM | 0 recs
Re: NY State 7th District

lipris is a hero for his work on the albany project.  phil, you're a genius.

by dereau 2007-02-06 08:39AM | 0 recs
you knew this was coming...

Ok, so we've had the scary Osama flyer, the phony, manufactured "scandal" and even misleading flyers and straight up attempts at voter intimidation. What's missing?

Scary, scary queers obviously.

This flyer was sent by the Conservative Party and just brought into HQ here in Great Neck. The lady who brought it in is a member of a local Orthodox synagogue and says she's has received tons of this crap.

by lipris 2007-02-06 10:39AM | 0 recs
Re: you knew this was coming...

My sister lives in this district and I have to wonder how effective this is.  This is a culturally tolerant area - not the home of rapid right wing cultural conservatives. It does give you an idea of how desparate the Rs are.  Their polls must be bad if they are stooping to this level.

Go Craig Johnson!

by John Mills 2007-02-06 12:26PM | 0 recs
Re: NY State 7th District

absolutely right, this distict is no Asscrack Arkansas! This kind of thing will never fly in this District. Go Craig Johnson!

by politics64 2007-02-06 02:36PM | 0 recs


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