Republicans gain in New York suburbs 

In special elections for the New York Assembly yesterday, Republicans appear to have captured two Assembly seats formerly held by Democrats, one in Suffolk County and one in Westchester County. They held a Republican seat in Nassau County and failed to capture a district in Queens that has been held not just by the Democrats but by the Weprin family for many years. The New York secretary of state’s website doesn’t have the results, and I can’t find any mention of these elections in the New York Times website; perhaps the Times is content to let the Huffington Post cover this local story. But it appears that Republican Dean Murray has a narrow lead in 3rd Assembly district centered on Brookhaven, just west of the Hamptons in a district that has voted between 59% and 62% Democratic in the 20082006 and 2004 general elections. And the Republican nominee “easily defeated” the Democrat in the 89th district in Westchester County, which includes part of White Plains and runs north to Bedford and Pound Ridge, in which no Republican ran in 2008 or 2006 and the Democrat won 59%-41% in 2004.

The Republican victories don’t change the balance of power in the Assembly, which Democrats will now control by a reduced margin of 107-43, and in which all power is vested in Speaker Sheldon Silver. But the numbers are interesting. Last year Democrats fared reasonably well in special elections in New York, holding the 20th district vacated by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and capturing the 23rd district vacated by the nomination of Republican John McHugh to be secretary of the Army. Democratic candidates Scott Murphy and Bill Owens ran even with or close to Barack Obama’s winning percentages in those two Upstate districts.

In these suburban Assembly districts, in contrast, Republicans this year ran 10% or more ahead of Republicans in previous Assembly contests. I don’t have the 2008 presidential vote for these Assembly districts, but Barack Obama carried the 1st congressional district which includes all or most of the 3rd Assembly district 51%-48% and he carried the 18th congressional district which includes most of the 89th Assembly district 62%-38%. So the results show Republicans competitive in territory where they have been languishing in the minority for some time.

This looks like an echo of Scott Brown's victory in the special Senate election in Massachusetts. More proof that Democrats are in bad shape.

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Michael Barone

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