Here And Now
A bit of a delayed – not to mention truncated – headline round-up for you this morning, as it was a very late night (or rather, early morning) for the CapTon team.
We’ll be following up on a number of loose ends from New York’s Election Day, not the least of which is the yet-undecided battle for control of the state Senate, which rests on the outcome of a handful of races.
One thing that is not in dispute: President Obama’s decisive victory over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for a second four-year term in the White House.
The president carried Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wisconsin – a near sweep of the battleground states – and was holding a narrow advantage in Florida, where there were long lines of people waiting to vote hours after polling sites have closed.
Obama returns to a Washington that was much unchanged by last night’s elections. The GOP still controls the House, and the US Senate remains in Democratic hands, although closely divided.
In his victory speech, which ended close to 2 a.m. eastern time, Obama struck a conciliatory tone. He said his agenda for the next four years will include reducing the deficit, fixing the immigration system, reforming the tax code and getting the US off foreign oil.
Romney was gracious in defeat, saying he and his wife, Ann, would be praying for the nation’s success under Obama. He urged his supporters to do the same.
Romney’s loss has prompted some significant soul-searching in the GOP.
As for the battle for control of the state Senate, here’s what we’ll be watching in the coming days:
– The 46th SD fight between GOP Assemblyman George Amedore and Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk, who was leading by just 139 votes with 100 percent of precincts reporting.
Remember: This district was drawn by the Senate Republicans specifically with Amedore in mind, and Tkaczyk was a little-known and under-funded challenger who wasn’t supposed to have a shot. That changed when a recent Siena poll found her trailing by just 3 percentage points. This race is coming down to paper, but both candidates claimed victory last night.
– The three-way 41st SD race where conservative Neil Di Carlo appears to have siphoned enough votes away from GOP Sen. Steve Saland to allow Democrat Terry Gipson a path to victory.
Saland refused to concede, insisting that after the absentees (perhaps as many as 7,000) are counted, he will return to Albany – much like he did after Di Carlo almost ousted him in a tough GOP primary in September.
Gipson declared victory, however. This is going to be an interesting race to watch, since Saland was the lone Republican endorsed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, thanks to Saland’s “yes” vote last summer on same-sex marriage.
– In the 15th SD down in Queens, Democratic Sen. Joe Addabbo declared fairly early in the evening, but his Republican challenger, NYC Councilman Eric Ulrich, hasn’t given up the fight yet, saying:
“We are not conceding the race at this time because there are literally thousands of paper ballots still out there. We ought to allow the people who did vote have their vote count in the first place.”
This district was hit very hard by Sandy, particularly the conservative areas that served as Ulrich’s base – particularly Breezy Point, where some 100 homes were destroyed in a post-flood fire.
This fight could very well end up in court.
– In the 40th SD, Republican Sen. Greg Ball declared himself the winner, but his Democratic opponent, Justin Wagner, refused to concede.
In a statement released shortly after 1 a.m., Wagner’s campaign manager Steve Napier called Ball’s declaration of victory “bizarre” and “inaccurate.”
He insisted that thousands of votes from Democratic precincts had yet to be counted, adding:
The race is too close to call. While all of the traditionally high-performing Republican areas have been fully counted, results in much of the traditionally Democratic areas of Westchester County have yet to be reported.”
“We will pursue a full and fair count of all ballots, and we are confident that in the end Justin Wagner will be seated in the New York State Senate.”
– Down in Brooklyn, in the newly-created “Super Jewish” district (AKA the 17th AD), former Democratic NYC Councilman Simcha Felder defeated Republican Sen. David Storobin.
Felder has been coy about who he will caucus with in Albany or support in the event of a majority leader fight, saying only that he’ll side with whichever conference can give him the deal that best serves his constituents.
– What will the four-member IDC, led by Bronx Sen. Jef Klein, do in the event of a closely divided Senate, which appears to be where we’re heading?
The Democrats were projecting victory last night, even as the Republicans insisted the majority will remain in their hands, but also counting the IDC among their conference members, which is decidedly NOT the case at this point.
– What will Cuomo do? Will he intervene in the event of a prolonged battle in the Senate? The governor’s whole brand is based on making Albany work again.
A return to the dysfunction of the old days, which occurred when the Senate was under Democratic control, is something he definitely does NOT want – especially now that he’s in full storm recovery mode.
Cuomo was widely believed to prefer to see the Senate remain in GOP hands. And, as I mentioned above, even crossed party lines to endorse a Republican (Saland), although he backed some Democrats too – including Addabbo.
We’ll have to keep a close eye on this, although it’s a safe bet the governor himself will be closely monitoring the situation as well.
As for New York’s closely contested House races:
– In NY-27, Democratic Rep. Kathy Hochul conceded defeat to her GOP opponent, former Erie County Executive Chris Collins, after initially declaring the race too close to call.
Hochul’s loss is a blow to the Democrats, and even to the Obama administration. He special election win last year had national implications as it largely turned on Rep. Paul Ryan’s controversial budget proposal and the battle over Social Security and Medicare reform.
– In NY-25, veteran Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter won a decisive victory against her GOP challenger, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, after a bitter – and very expensive – campaign.
– In NY-21, Republican Matt Doheny conceded fairly early in the night to Democratic Rep. Bill Owens, who used his victory speech to make a plea for a return to “rationale” thinking and an end to partisan gridlock in D.C.
– That theme was echoed in NY-19, where Republican Rep. Chris Gibson managed to turn back a challenge from Democrat Julian Schreibman in a district that was dramatically changed in the redistricting process. (Over half of the territory was new to him, as the district was skewed to the south, which was seen as Schreibman’s base).
– In NY-24 (going a bit out of order here), the race was called by the AP for Democrat Dan Maffei, who was seeking to oust the woman who ousted him in 2010, Republican Ann MArie Buerkle.
But Maffei stopped short of declaring victory, and Buerkle did not concede. There’s a lot of paper – more than 21,500 absentee ballots – to count in this race.
– In NY-18, Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney declared victory over Republican Rep. Nan Hayworth. His election would make him the state’s first openly gay member of Congress.
The AP called this race for Maloney, and his campaign told YNN that Hayworth had called him to concede. But a Hayworth spokesman insisted that she had not yet given up the fight. We’ll be following up on this one.
Early in the evening, Hayworth told supporters and reporters:
“We’re going to just wait until the morning to see what all the numbers show and where we stand.”
“And I’m very hopeful we’ll be able to move forward in ways that are good for everyone.”
– In NY-11, the Staten Island/Brooklyn race, embattled Republican Rep. Michael Grimm turned back a challenge from his Democratic opponent, Mark Murphy.
Staten Island was hit very hard by Sandy, so while the Siena poll showed Grimm with a double-digit lead heading into yesterday’s election, it was unclear what impact the storm would have on the outcome.
– In NY-6, Democrat Assemblywoman Grace Meng defeated her Republican opponent, Republican NYC Councilman Dan Halloran, to become the first Asian-American from New York to be elected to Congress.
(Note that in NY-23, Democratic Tompkins County Legislator Nate Shinawaga, who is also Asian-American, turned in a surprisingly strong showing against Republican Rep. Tom Reed. He came up short in the end, but most Democrats agree Shinagawa has a bright future with the party).
– In NY-1, Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop survived another challenge from his Republican opponent, Randy Altschuler, who came close to toppling the incumbent congressman in 2010.
In the US Senate race, Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand cruised to an easy win over her Republican challenger, Wendy Long.
Gillibrand’s victory speech came very early in the night – at about 9:30 p.m. – and she focused in part of Sandy recovery.
With her wide margin of victory, talk is turning now to what’s next for Gillibrand, even though this is the first full six-year term she has won in the Senate.
She has been mentioned as a possible next head of the DSCC, and also as a future White House contender.
The Assembly Democrats won big last night, appearing to grow their conference by another five seats.
Scandal-scarred Assemblyman Vito Lopez will be returning to Albany, as predicted.
In an historic election night for the gay rights movement, voters in Maine and Maryland became the first in the country to approve same-sex marriage, breaking a 32-state losing streak.
And now, back to the weather…
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