State GOP has an uphill battle after Election Day

Nov 8, 2018

Another series of statewide elections in New York Tuesday resulted in another Democratic sweep, and with a two-to-one voter registration margin in the state, mostly because of New York City, it’s clear the GOP has a steep hill to climb.

Onondaga County Republican Party chair Tom Dadey pondered the future of the state GOP as votes were being tallied on election night.

"If we don’t win anything tonight, we need to change how we do things at the state level," Dadey said.

And they didn’t win. Democrats swept statewide seats for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Comptroller. Republicans facing them were barely able to get one out of every three voters to fill in the dot on a ballot for a GOP candidate.

What’s a party to do? Dadey wouldn’t get into specifics about what changes need to be made but outgoing state Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) said it all starts with making people believe you can win. He cites the example of the Business Council of New York State supporting Andrew Cuomo for governor.

"Cuomo has not been good for business in the state of New York and they endorsed him. So it’s almost like people believe someone is going to win, so they play both ends of the stick," DeFrancisco said. "You got to get people to believe you can win. And if they believe there is an alternative, that can change.”

The last Republican elected to statewide office was George Pataki, who won the race for governor in 2002.

Things will change in the state legislature come January as well. After being in Republican control for much of the last century, Democrats took several seats from Republicans on Tuesday. In addition to Democrats taking control, central New York will have new representation in Albany in January. State Sen. Dave Valesky (D-Oneida), who was first elected to the Senate in 2004, lost in a September primary to Rachel May. May then defeated Republican Janet Burman on Tuesday. Republican Bob Antonacci will replace DeFrancisco, who has been in the Senate for 25 years.

Both Valesky and DeFrancisco were able to bring millions of dollars of state money to central New York for local projects because of their seniority, something DeFrancisco said could change.

"There’s a problem there. But, if you're a fighter and you’re someone who keeps your eyes open and watches things that happen for other areas of the state, you can bring home funding for worthwhile projects," he said.

After her win Tuesday, May said the state needs to reform it's voting laws, fix the way education is funded, and improve infrastructure around the region.