Yes, voters around the country went to the polls yesterday in this off—off—off year election. Here in Queens, District Attorney Richard Brown was overwhelmingly elected to a sixth term. Running unopposed, Ruben Wills was elected (again) to fill the remainder of the Council seat of the late Thomas White. Clearly there were no surprises here.
Elsewhere, Republicans retained control of the Nassau County Legislature. Democrat Steve Bellone, the current Babylon Town Supervisor, will be the new Suffolk County Executive, replacing incumbent Steve Levy. Levy, you may remember, is the Democrat turned Republican who tried to challenge Governor Andrew Cuomo last year.
Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan was reelected. Donovan went into the race with substantial name ID after he was last year’s Republican nominee against Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. However, the race plagued him a bit since residents thought he was ready for greener pastures. That did not stop them from sending him back to be the borough’s top prosecutor.
North of the City, County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz defeated incumbent Erie County Executive Chris Collins and Assemblyman Mike Spano will be the next mayor of Yonkers.
These races may have implications for the Governor, who decided to selectively involve himself in certain races around the state. At the moment, it looks like Mr. Cuomo made wise choices, since all of the people he endorsed won last night. Endorsements normally serve two purposes. The endorser becomes a “king maker”; and the endorsees feel indebted for future political favors or a return endorsement for the Governor’s 2014 reelection.
The races around the state also may have repercussions for national races in 2012. Congressional democrats will be trying to retake the House of Representatives, keep the Senate and the White House. The thinking may be that if a Democrat can still win the Suffolk County Executive’s race, it bodes well for someone like five-term Representative Timothy Bishop, a perpetual target of republicans in the state and national parties. Bishop’s district is solely in Suffolk County, so the idea that if a democrat like Bellone can win countywide, Bishop can surely win as well.
Around the country, there was a hint of good news last night for President Obama and the national democrats. In Kentucky, not necessarily a bastion of democratic votes, democratic Governor Steve Beshear was reelected to a second term. More importantly, in the crucial swing state of Ohio, a statewide referendum rebuked first term Governor John Kasich’s union stripping legislation.
The White House hopes that this attitude is indicative of things to come. Ohio was, of course, the state which kept the country awake until the late hours during the 2004 election. Mr. Obama won the state with 51% of the vote in 2008. He hopes to repeat his performance there next November.
Last night’s results will probably not have dramatic consequences for the country. A year is a lifetime in politics. What is true in 2011 may not be true anymore a year from now. However, for the state and national parties, there are always lessons to be learned from elections. Which races worked, which didn’t, why some candidates were successful and why some were not could be factors in determining a 2012 strategy. Let’s just hope they were taking notes.