You're thinking more about Ed Towns (NY-10) and Gregory Meeks (NY-06) than Major Owens. Indeed, Major Owens was one of two members of the Democratic Socialists of America--the other being John Conyers of Michigan. No, pro-corporate centrist Democrat, here!
Senate: +6D (RI, PA, OH, MT, MO, VA), possibility of a seventh pickup in AZ.
First off, there will be a wave, but it will be geographically concentrated, hitting particularly hard in the Northeast/Midwest. Thus, I expect all three of the Connecticut seats to go, NH-2, at least 5 New York State seats (NY-19, NY-20, NY-24, and NY-25 and NY-29) as Upstate Republicans stay home in droves and Spitzer gets over 70% of the vote and Hillary in the low to mid 60s, all three of the Philly suburban seats, plus Carney and PA-4 as Casey beats Santorum by nearly 20 points and Rendell cruises to a landslide victory, 3 Ohio seats (OH-1, OH-15, and OH-18), 3 Indiana seats (IN-2, IN-8, IN-9, and both of the Chicago suburban seats (IL-6 and IL-10).
Elsewhere in the country it won't be nearly as bad for the GOP and/or their GOTV will be better. But we will still net about 10-15 of the swing seats such as IA-1, NM-1, CO-7, FL-22, Delay's and Foley's seats. Then, there will be a few surprises like AZ-01 and AZ-05, CA-11, KS-02, KY-03, and possibly one of the Rocky Mountain seats (ID-1 or WY-AL) but probably not both.
This is an incredible break for John Hall who is trying to unseat Sue Kelly in my childhood district. A member of the Gannett newspaper family, it's rare when the Poughkeepsie Journal endorses anyone other than Republicans.
This, together with the endorsement of the likewise GOP-leaning Middletown paper a week or so ago, should help tip the seat in our favor. If it weren't for the historic GOP tilt of the district, I'd say that our chances of taking it are very good this year. I can only think of one Democrat who was ever elected to congress from the area: Joseph Yale Resnick who won in the LBJ landslide in 64 and served 2 terms, being replaced by long-serving moderate GOP congressman Hamilton Fish Jr. (1969-95) and Sue Kelly (1995-current).
I like our chances, actually, with all of the New York State seats. Spitzer might top 70% of the vote and depress GOP turnout so much that seats like NY-19 and NY-20, let alone the Utica, Syracuse, Rochester/Buffalo and Southern Tier seats (NY 24, 25, 26, and 29) also are in play!
Now, if we can only take over the State Senate....
If you're talking about Joel Miller, then I'd have to agree with you. Back in 2000, he and Tom Kirwin (another moderate GOP assemblyman) backed McCain over Bush in the NY State GOP primary; in 2003, Miller was one of the few GOP assemblymen to join Dems in an override of Pataki's veto of the bi-partisan state budget that raised taxes on upper-income residents....
You're right about the Town of Poughkeepsie being only marginally Republican. Two problems, though. First, the Republican election commissioners in Dutchess County have routinely denied Vassar College students the right to vote on-campus (in NYS these decisions are decided at the county level); and two, however close a Dem gets in the Town of Poughkeepsie or even Beacon (both in NY-19), they have to overcome solidly GOP areas like Fishkill, East Fishkill, Beekman, etc.
I just went onto the NYS Board of Election website (http://www.elections.state.ny.us/enrollm
ent/congress/congress_nov05.htm), and here are the latest voter registration numbers (November 05) broken down by county or part of county for NY-19. I've massaged the numbers a little bit, because in NY you can register in a whole constellation of small third parties which can cross-endorse candidates (NY has fusion voting). To get at a metric which approximates Republicans vs. Democrats vs. Independents, I've combined the totals for Republicans, Conservatives and Right-to-Life (even though this last party no longer exists on the ballot having lost their slot in 2002) under the first column; Democrats, Working Families, Greens, and Liberals (although the latter two both lost their slots in 2002 also) under the second column; and all other parties and blanks under the third column. The last column is the total registration numbers for the county.
Dutchess County (part)
Orange County (part)
For the part of the district south of the Bear Mountain Bridge (e.g. Rockland and Westchester), Dems have a slight advantage in voter registration, though not that significant (52,005 Dems to 48,960 Republicans to 40,280 independents). The problem is that this part of the district only casts about 32% of the vote according to voter registration totals.
The rest of the district which casts 68% of the vote, by contrast, is not as friendly (119,536 Republicans vs. 92,957 Democrats vs. 84,174 independents).
To put these figures another way:
In the parts of Rockland/Westchester in NY-19, the voter registration is 35% Republicans, 37% Dems, 28% Independents
In the parts of Orange/Putnam/Dutchess in NY-19, the voter registration is 40% Republicans, 31% Dems, 29% Independents
Unfortunately, the Board of Elections doesn't break down presidential vote by county and congressional district, so there is no way to see whether this 5-6 point differential between the two areas of the district manifests itself in a similar spread in the vote totals. I suspect it does, though.
Having grown up my entire life in NY-19 and its various predecessors before moving to NYC four years ago, I can tell you that the district is more Republican than Cook's +1 would give you. The Westchester part of the district may be competitive, but it's the least-Dem part of Westchester (as the central and southern parts of the county are in NY-17 and NY-18, along with the Dem areas of the old NY-20). It also is only about 1/3 or so of the vote. The problem is, that the moment you cross the Westchester County line, you enter rock-ribbed GOP territory. Putnam never went for Clinton; Dutchess only barely did in 1996 and that was only the second time in a century that a Dem carried it (the other was LBJ in 64). My recollection is that Orange also only barely went for Clinton in 1996.... Moreover, three Dem cities in both counties (Newburgh and Middletown in Orange, Poughkeepsie in Dutchess) are NOT in NY-19 but rather in Maurice Hinchey's NY-22. So the parts of both counties in the district are exurban/rural areas where Bush did well (as Gore and Kerry would have racked up several thousand vote pluralities in the cities to offset losing in the townships).
To be sure, this is still the Northeast, not Alabama or even exurban areas in the Midwest where Gore/Kerry got swamped. By national standards, NY-19 is a GOP marginal. But many of these cross-over voters are perfectly willing to vote for GOP congresswomen, and state senators and assemblymen. Indeed, all the state senators (Larkin, Leibell, and Saland) from areas in NY-19 are Republicans, and all but one or two in the State Assembly are Republicans (the only Dems are Sandra Galef in NY AD 90 and Aileen Gunther in NY AD 98 for a few towns in Western Orange county). Locally, the vast majority of the towns have Republican supervisors and town boards (where my folks live in Town of Fishkill, Dutchess County, Dems have never been elected to anything since the Civil War).
The only way that we have a shot at this district would be if the GOP fails to field a serious contender for either the governor or against Hillary and Republicans don't come out to vote this fall. Come to think of it, that seems to be happening! Still, the district seems to be a tall order.
This is excellent news, and as an Empire State resident, it is long overdue. Now, if only the NYS Dems can get their act together and take the 4 seats we need to take over the State Senate. NY State would be governed better (one of the chief causes of the dysfunctional gridlock has been that the State Assembly since the 70s has been controlled by Dems while the State Senate has been controlled by Republicans).
We would also be able to redistrict in our favor in 2010, although I'm not sure we can squeeze more than 1-2 districts out of what we already have (20-9 is an impressive margin), although I'd love us to try. Much of rural upstate is hopelessly Republican and that constitutes 6 of the 9 seats the GOP holds (Sue Kelly in NY-19, Vito Fassella in NY-13 and Peter King in NY-3 being the 3 "downstate" Republicans).
Another possible problem with fusion voting is that third parties can lose their ideological positions over time and simply degenerate into patronage mills. That's what happened to the Liberal Party. Founded in the Depression as a way for Jewish voters to vote for FDR without voting for Tammany, the Liberal Party about 25 years ago or so under the leadership of Ray Harding degenerated into a patronage mill. Without the Liberal Party endorsement, Rudy Guiliani would never have beaten Dinkens in 93 and as payback, one of Harding's sons became deputy mayor! One of the reasons why the Working Families party was founded in 1998 was to kick the Liberals off of the ballot and become the "true" progressive party. In 2002 they succeeded, and unless the Liberals succeed in getting a candidate who can garner 50k votes, they'll stay off the ballot (like the Greens who also got knocked off in 2002 for the same reason).
That being said, as a New York voter I LOVE fusion voting. As a progressive liberal Dem, I have problems with the direction that the Dems have taken the last couple of decades. At the same time, I have big problems with progressives who routinely let the perfect be the enemy of the good and mistake Dems for "evil Republicans"! Voting for Al Gore and Hillary in 2000 and for Kerry and Schumer in 2004 on the Working Families line, I feel, has enabled to register my support for liberal/progressive politics while adding a vote to the Dem candidates in case they need it against a Republican (instead of wasting my vote). Although by no means perfect, I find the Working Families Party a good vehicle for voting for my values and political principles as well as voting pragmatically for the good as opposed to the perfect.
The party, since its formation in 1998, has already accomplished a great deal. We're not far in NYS from having a living wage law, and in several counties and municipalities across the state we already have such laws (in large part because of the ballot line access that Row E provides to politicians who want to attract voters besides straight-ticket voters of their parties). Perhaps the most striking coup, though, was the defeat of the Albany County Dem machine's district attorney last year over the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Dems are also now making serious noises about reforming these draconian laws, which they weren't at all doing a few years back (being largely afraid of being tared and feathered as "soft on crime" by Republican opponents.) Now Republicans may still accuse them of being this, but Dems who stand for changing the laws know that they'll be rewarded with ballot line access and volunteers, money, etc. from Working Families.
To sum up, fusion voting at its best in NYS has led to a more ideologically honest politics, where Dem candidates are not afraid to be liberals and Republicans are not afraid either to be true conservatives or fuzzy moderates. IMHO, this is how politics should be and often isn't in this country--driven by focus groups, and petty non-ideological symbolism about school uniforms and V-chips and the like. At its worst, as in the case of the Liberals (and now the Conservatives), it degenerates into political patronage mills, where parties hold their noses and endorse for 3 times in a row candidates (like Pataki) who aren't "conservative" enough, simply to hold onto valuable patronage for their party hacks.
Especially when New York State has about 5.5 million Dems to only 3 million Republicans. Even considering the fact that this includes a fair number of conservative outer-borough Dems in NYC who only registered Dems to vote in the all-important Dem mayoral primaries but otherwise aren't really "Democrats" at all, this is NOT a Republican/Conservative state in the least! Indeed, I miss the Right to Life party because that used to scare voters from voting for Republicans like D'Amato, etc. (they got knocked off the ballot in 2002 when their gubernatorial candidate failed to meet the 50k threshold).
If Roe v. Wade were to be overturned tomorrow by SCOTUS, for instance, NY is one of the few states in the country that have preexisting abortion laws on the books.... We are definitely NOT a conservative state!
As I've said in earlier posts, I'm not in the least worried about HRC or Spitzer and I think a Dem landslide can materialize if we concentrate our efforts on retaking back state senate seats, congressional seats, etc. Hillary won't get 73% like Schumer did last year--there are too many "Hillary haters" like my folks upstate for that to happen. But I can easily picture her reaching the high 50s, perhaps even 60%. A lot of upstaters respect the hard work she's done the past 5 or so years in saving Fort Drum and other installations, and in bringing back some pork, etc. And she is able to do so in the context of having to compete with our publicity-hound of a senior senator, Chuck Schumer, whom Bob Dole once quipped (I think accurately) that it was lethal to get in between Chuck and a camera!
It's been taken over by fulani and her people, so one never quite knows for sure what they'll do. For example, in 2000, the Independence Party endorsed Pat Buchanan. There's been much talk this year that Bloomberg is spending lots of money to try to get the ballot line, while in 2002 Pataki ran in a primary against Golisano to get it.
The sad thing is, that the party, by registration figures, has a lot of registered voters who mistakenly think they're registering as "independents" when in fact they're not. To do so you have to registered "non-enrolled."
Just one of the many ways in which NYS Election law is deliberately complicated. Did you know that of all the election law in this country, NYS has over 50% of it!
I would be remiss if I didn't caution that just because a particular seat is say 2-1 Dem or 3-1 in party registration, it doesn't necessarily meant that there are 2 or 3 times more "Democrats" vs. "Republicans." Because we have partisan mayoral elections (something which Bloomberg has been trying to get rid of for the past 4 years) as well as closed-party primaries, many voters in NYC register Dem to be able to vote in the mayoral primary and then come November cross over and pull the levers for Republicans. Only by this logic is it possible to make sense of how Staten Island can both have more Democrats than Republicans and then turn around and vote for Bush over Kerry.
That being said, I certainly think that both of the Queens seats are ripe for the taking as the GOP has no back bench to speak of in replacing either Padavan and Maltese when they retire/die. Marty Golden will be much harder to replace, and the Republicans control 3/4 of the state assembly districts in Staten Island as well as 2/3 of the city council seats there and the borough president (equivalent of county executives), so they'll have plenty of people to replace Marchi when he retires/dies.
I agree with your sentiments entirely on this one. Unfortunately, I'm currently finishing my PhD at CUNY-Grad Center in history and will be looking for full-time academic jobs all this year. So I'm probably not the one to take on the responsibility of doing a NYC-based blog at this point in time. I'm certainly willing to pitch in my two-cents here and then, though. Also, my state senator Liz Krueger (who I volunteered for a few years ago when the upper east side of Manhattan was a Republican district--yes, Republicans do exist in New York City!) is the Senate Campaign Committee chair. Her, along with Eric Schneiderman, Patterson, and a few others are a new breed of Dems in the State Senate who are not willing to be nice to go along, but rather are aiming to oust Joe Bruno and the republicans once and for all. So its nice to have someone sympathetic to the blogosphere on this issue of competing everywhere in this crucial campaign post...
Regarding enrollment figures, the NYS Board of Elections is really good on this front. They have overall month-by-month registration figures by county, by congressional district, by state senate district and by assembly district. I post below the direct link to the latest figures (April of this year) for state senate districts:
Just looking at the Dem to Republican ratios, and not taking into account voters enrolled in the myriad third parties of NYS (both former and currently existing), 6 districts currently represented by Republicans pop out as having more Dems than Republicans:
#11 (N.E. Queens, Bayside, Douglaston, Jamaica Estates) Padavan, an overly noxious immigrant-basher, his district has 92k Dems to only 37k Republicans. Padavan must be in his 70s by now....
#22 (S. Brooklyn) Marty Golden (this one is young, but the district was specially gerrymandered in 2000 for him specifically--made up of a lot of Russians who are very conservative because of the Soviet Union, etc.), 76k Dems/37k Republicans
#24 (2/3 of Staten Island) This is the most Republican of the NYC districts, and even though Marchi is an institution, having served since 1956, the district probably will continue electing Republican/Conservatives as far as the eye can see. The voter registration does look somewhat doable though: 78k Dems/69k Republicans
These are the 4 NYC Republicans, now 2 suburban seats that popped out at me:
#35 (Westchester, Yonkers) Nick Spano. Spano almost got defeated in 2004, only winning by 19 votes after his election lawyers succeeded in throwing out large numbers of affadavit voters for his opponent. She's running again in 2006, so I expect this district to swap hands to us:
90k Dems/50k Republicans
#38 (Rockland County) Morahan. This is the state senate race back in the 90s that got the commuter tax repealed (NYC from the 60s through the 90s levied an income tax on suburbanites who worked in the City--both political parties back in the 90s tried to outdo each other to win this seat by voting to repeal the tax). Rockland is a lean-Dem country, full of large numbers of Jewish voters (87k Dems/55k Republicans)
Also, although all 9 of the LI based districts are held by Republicans, districts #7 and #9 in Nassau County by registration figures look doable. Long Island has been trending Dem for the last decade; 3 out of the 4 congressional seats are held by Dems, and the once-fabled GOP machine in Nassau County is totally kaput now, having first bankrupted the county in the late 90s, then losing the county legislature and finally the county executive (Suozzi). The only survivors of the machine are its state senators. Only a matter of time....
Regarding upstate, possibly the Rochester based seat? What about the other Syracuse based seat as well? Also, having gone to SUNY-Binghamton and actively campaigned while there for Libous' opponents, I would like someone creditable to take on Libous. Broome County (Binghamton) just elected Dems to the state assembly and as county executive back in 2004 so we're rebuilding our bench up there....
I think we're seeing a repeat of 1990 regarding the behavior of the NYS Conservative Party but even better. In 1990, the Conservatives famously didn't go along with a liberal Republican nominee (Rinfret), instead nominating their own (Herb London) of the Manhattan Institute, who proceeded to get 22% of the vote, nearly edging the Republicans (who had 23%) from their position on the ballot as Row B at that time (In NYS, the position on the ballot is determined by the number of votes a party receives in the last gubernatorial election). Even in spite of this self-destructive infighting between the two right wing parties of NYS, Cuomo that year got an anemic 50% which presaged Pataki's victory over him 4 years later. By that point, D'Amato engineered Conservative party support for his crony Pataki, and in a Republican year, a little-known one-term state senator from Garrison was able to be a giant-slayer, defeating Cuomo 49-45.
The trouble is, with the exception of his first year when he put through a 3-year tax cut, and massively hiked state tuition at SUNY (a major reason--btw--why I became a Democrat as I was at SUNY-Binghamton at the time), and 2003 when he vetoed the state legislature's budget which raised state taxes to fill the shortfall caused by 9/11, he's run the state mostly as a Rockefeller-Republican. The Conservative party has mostly been unhappy about this, but they've gone along, because of the cushy patronage that they get for being Row D on the ballot and for year-in, year-out routinely providing some 200k or so votes for Republican candidates (New York State has fusion voting, where candidates can be cross-endorsed). Other conservative groups such as Change-NY which originally were enthusiastic about Pataki when he seemed to be an anti-tax conservative despise him now. Ditto for National Review and other national conservative papers. Basically, with the exception of 2-3 years of his 12 year tenure as governor, Pataki has spent money like a drunken sailor, massively run up state debt, etc. Compared to all the dubious things that Cuomo did (such as "sell" Attica State Prison to some off-budget state-run authority), Pataki has been far worse.
So, basically, the Conservative party has nothing in them to play nice and every incentive to play the bomb-throwers. Spitzer's very likely to win in any case, so they don't have the threat of losing all that state patronage if they don't hold their noses and cross-endorse Pataki (which is what they did in 98 and 02). To keep their ballot line they just need to guarantee that they have a candidate who will garner them 50k votes--a small sum in a state with some 10m registered voters. Indeed, I believe Marilyn O'Grady, their candidate against Schumer in 2004 when they famously didn't endorse a pro-choice, moderate Republican, got well over that number.
Hopefully, what we may be seeing is the beginning of the destruction of the NYS Conservative Party. Founded in 62 to run candidates against Rockefeller and give Republicans in the state an ability not to have to vote for him, they reached their high-water points in 1970 when they elected Jim Buckley to the US Senate and in 1994 when they were instrumental in getting Pataki elected--Cuomo got more votes on the Democratic line than Pataki got on the Republican, only with the fusion votes from other parties added in did Pataki win.
Again, as I said last week in another post, the Dems if they were really smart, would try to capitalize on all this Republican infighting right now and seize several state senate races. Long term, if we can wait things out a decade or so, the demographic trends will lead eventually to a Dem majority in the state senate, particularly considering the fact that some 5 or 6 seats of the 35 that Joe Bruno has have Dem majority registrations. All we need to tie is 4, we need 5 for outright control. 2006, with all the infighting in the state Republican party, and all the anti-Bush voters coming out, we might be able to rush up these trends. Apparently, this is also why Bruno is privately fuming at Pataki's refusal to run for a 4th term and the utter lack of any creditable replacement candidate to replace him.