© 2024 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Democrats heartened by Election Day wins


Democrats in New York are heartened by what they call a “blue wave” in this week’s election results in the state and the nation.

This year is considered an “off” election year with no presidential race or statewide contests like a governor’s race. Nevertheless, Democrats in New York hungry for signs of encouragement after the 2016 election of President Donald Trump are very happy about Democratic wins in the county executive races in two suburban New York counties, Nassau and Westchester.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo seemed especially gleeful over the defeat of incumbent Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican who lost to Democratic state Sen. George Latimer.

“He was trounced, trounced!” Cuomo said.

Astorino was Cuomo’s opponent in the 2014 governor’s race. After Tuesday’s election results, he said he would not try to run for governor in 2018. 

Democratic Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said after what she considers to be a politically disastrous year since Trump was elected president, she’s encouraged that so many New Yorkers and Americans are realizing that their vote can count. 

“For a long time, people had become less and less civically engaged, and at some point, people just started to believe that none of it mattered,” said Stewart-Cousins, who added that has changed now and voters realize they have “an incredibly crucial role to play.” 

Stewart-Cousins is hoping that the Democratic wins in the New York City suburbs can translate into more victories for her party’s Senate candidates in 2018, and result in Democrats taking back control of the Senate. The chamber is currently ruled by Republicans, aided by breakaway Democrats. 

The GOP safely holds many upstate districts, and Democrats are entrenched in New York City Senate posts. But the suburbs have some swing seats, and the Democrats hope to chip away in three key districts on Long Island and one in Westchester.

The senator said Democrats plan to put up “strong candidates” across the board to challenge incumbents.

“I’m sure that the Senate will become Democratic,” she said. “Finally.” 

Democrats won the Senate in Washington state Tuesday, and Democrat Phil Murphy will succeed Republican Chris Christie as governor of New Jersey. Christie was not seeking re-election.

For Democrats to take control of the Senate, two feuding factions would need to reunite. Eight Democrats are members of the Independent Democratic Conference, and do not caucus with the rest of the Democrats. One Democratic senator, Simcha Felder, is actually part of the Republican conference and helps the GOP maintain its 32-seat majority, the bare minimum number of seats needed to rule the Senate.

Cuomo, who in the past has worked cooperatively with the Republicans and the Independent Democrats in the Senate, has increasingly called for the Democratic Senate factions to unify. He repeated that call one day after the elections, telling them “your personal ego is irrelevant.” 

Gary Ginsberg, a spokesman for Stewart-Cousins, said the senator agrees that the Democrats should unite, and that it should be “about policy, not perks” or empowering the Senate Republicans.

A spokeswoman for the Independent Democratic Conference, Candice Giove, said the senators in the conference are Democrats, too, and they also plan to “work to elect Democrats” in 2018.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.