New Yorkers to Republicans: F*ck You

Evan Farley, ‘20

You have probably heard about the midterm elections and the national results: Democrats picked up 38 seats in the House and lost two seats in the Senate. Not exactly a blue wave, but considering there were 9 Republican Senate seats up for reelection to the Democrat’s 23, it could have a much bloodier night in the Senate. In the New York State Senate, however, there was a Republican massacre. It was brutal and the effects of 11/6/2018 will be remembered in Albany for years to come.

The New York State Legislature is composed of two houses: the Assembly and the State Senate. The Assembly has 150 seats, of which 103 are Democrats, who have controlled the chamber since 1975. This is probably unsurprising since New York is seen as such a blue state. What might come as a shocker, however, is the fierce battle over control of the State Senate. And even more staggering is that since the Second World War, according to the New York Times, Democrats have only had control for 3 years. Democrats last gained control in 2008, when Obama brought historic numbers out to the polls but lost control in the 2010 elections, when the Tea Party organized its masses to take over both houses of Congress and many State Houses including the New York State Senate. In the years since the battle has become even more contentious as Democrats have held a numerical majority (more Democrats have elected than Republicans since 2014), but eight or nine of those elected Democrats have caucused with the Republicans, giving them control. Eight of those were part of a group called the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) which disbanded in April of 2018 as members started to get a sense of the movements that were forming specifically to end the IDC and vote its members out. These groups proved to be very effective and in the September primary elections, six of the eight IDC members were beaten by Democratic challengers. Even so, Republicans have held a razor-thin one-seat majority because of another Democrat who caucuses against his party, Simcha Felder. Senator Felder fended off his primary challenger and was set to continue his Republican caucusing in the new year.

That is, however, until the sixth of November, 2018, when eight Republican state senators received the thumbs down from their constituents. This turnover rate is unheard of, just as the six IDC losses were unprecedented. What was once a narrow fracture has expanded to reveal a massive break between the parties. Long Island, once a deep red stronghold has turned purple. A senator elected in 1988 lost his seat, as did a senator from 1995 (and if you think that no politician should hold the same office for 30 years, that’s an issue for another time). The State Senate now contains 39 Democrats and 22 Republicans and at the print time, Senator Felder planned to caucus with the Democrats, giving them a two-thirds majority. Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who has served as the Minority Leader in the State Senate since 2012, is going to be the first women to lead the Senate.

All of Albany is covered in blue, as Governor Andrew Cuomo was re-elected to a third term with his Lieutenant, Kathy Hochul. NYC Public Advocate Letitia James was elected to Attorney General, and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli elected to his third term as well. With every statewide office held by a Democrat and a Democratic majority in both houses of the legislature, progressive advocates are expecting major victories in the year to come. However, one must be cautious, as going too far to the left could dissuade the more conservative districts on Long Island and Upstate. And Republicans are hoping the blue wave will lead to Democrats drowning in their success. As happened in 2010, they are hoping that the Democrats will squander the opportunities they have been given and lose their majority in two years. This seems unlikely, however, because of the giant gap between the two parties.

But all that is simply speculation. While Republicans lick their wounds and slowly recover from their major losses, Democrats are still getting over their hangovers from the all-night party they had on election night to celebrate their amazing victories.