Of New York’s 27 congressional districts, three will be uncontested by the GOP this year- Yvette Clarke in the 9th, Eliot Engel in the 16th, and Nita Lowey in the 17th. These are three of the most liberal/Democratic districts in the country centered in New York City. There are four open seats due to retirements- Steve Israel, a Democrat in the 3rd, Charlie Rangel, a Democrat in the 13th, Chris Gibson- a Republican in the 19th and Richard Hanna- a “Republican” in the 22nd. Rangel leaves the House and this area will be next represented by a Latino.
The 1st District encompasses the eastern end of Long Island and is represented by freshman Republican Lee Zeldin. He will face Anna Throne-Holst who had to overcome a close primary win by less than 300 votes of over 12,000 cast in the Democratic primary. The Democratic Party is working hard to win this district back this year. Zeldin has endorsed Trump and the latter performed well in this district in the GOP primary. This is a race that may go down to the wire on Election night and may be a portent of things to come.
Steve Israel kind of shocked the political world when he announced his retirement in the Third District. Comprised of the north shore of Long Island, the Democrat leaves this seat an open race. Redistricting has extended the boundaries slightly into Queens. The road to the GOP nomination to challenge Democrat Thomas Suozzi is tortured and involved a special October 6th primary after Jack Martins had Philip Pidiot erroneously thrown off the primary ballot. Either way, Suozzi was not the preferred candidate of the Democratic powers that be. One would have to give the Democrats a slight nod here but for the fact of the confusion over the Republican candidate and the lack of general election campaigning.
The next competitive district is the 18th held by Democrat Sean Maloney. It is redistricting that has made this seat more competitive. For example, under the old lines, Obama would have won by 24 points in 2008 but under the existing lines he would have won by 5 points. To underscore this point, Maloney is a part of the Democrat’s Front Line Program designed to protect vulnerable incumbents. He will be opposed by Phil Oliva, an aid to Westchester County Commissioner Rob Astorino. The problem for Oliva is fundraising where he seriously lags behind Maloney. Although this should be more competitive, the incumbent Democrat will likely win.
Moving slightly north into the Catskill region, Republican incumbent Chris Gibson is retiring leaving this seat open. It is considered a major battleground this year. Initially, the Democrats had trouble recruiting a viable candidate, but Zephyr Teachout actually managed to pull together Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters. Battling to keep this seat in GOP hands will be former state assemblyman John Faso. By any metric, this should be a real close race to watch. Democratic primary turnout was slightly higher than that of the GOP, Teachout has slightly outraised Faso in funds, and polls are within the margin of error. If one had to, one would give the slight edge to Teachout. But Gibson was a moderate Republican befitting of the area. The question is whether Faso can position himself as a Gibson-like moderate while portraying his opponent as too liberal for the district.
In the 21st, which comprises most of the northeastern part of the state, freshman Republican Elise Stefanik will face Democrat Mike Derrick. Stefanik turned this district over to GOP control in 2014 after 18 years of Democratic Party representation. She has received the backing of the RCCC and has really done nothing to alienate the voters of this district. Although a race to watch, Derrick has been lacking in fundraising and one would have to give the advantage to Stefanik at this point.
The 22nd sprawls through the central portion of the state and is being vacated by the retiring Richard Hanna, a Republican…sort of. Even before he announced his retirement, Claudia Tenney announced she would mount a primary challenge. Tenney was not the favorite of the GOP establishment in New York or nationally, but she won a low turnout affair primary. She will face Democrat Kim Myers who ran unopposed in their primary. Most polls show a near tie here. The big question is what effect Martin Babinec, an independent party candidate, will have on the final outcome. For his part, Hanna was true to form and supports Kim Myers over Tenney.
The 24th lies along Lake Ontario and is currently represented by Republican John Katko. Initially, the Democrats were settled upon Eric Kingston as their man until Colleen Deacon, a former aid to Kirsten Gillibrand entered the race. With the Party’s backing, Deacon won the Democratic primary. Katko won this district in 2014 upsetting Democratic incumbent Dan Maffei by a wide margin. He has since proved himself an able fundraiser. Truth be told, Katko is probably the ideal moderate Republican for this district. He is characterizing himself as an independent voice and Deacon as a pawn of the Democratic Party.
In the Senate race, this will be no contest between Democratic incumbent Chuck Schumer and his GOP opponent and sacrificial lamb, Wendy Long.
As for the presidential vote, you have two candidates that currently live in the state. This is a deeply blue state because of NYC and other urban areas where Clinton will prevail despite Trump’s business prowess in the Big Apple. This will definitely be a double-digit Clinton victory, possibly on the order of 18-20 points.
The current House delegation is 18 Democrats and 9 Republicans. Locally and in state government, the GOP in New York has shown greater success than in races for national office. Working under a worst case scenario, it is quite possible that with Clinton at the top of the ticket and an easy win for Schumer, some coattail effect will take down at least 2 GOP seats here.
After this entry, the electoral vote count stands at 126 for Hillary Clinton and 90 for Donald Trump. The Senate remains the same with a 54-46 GOP advantage. In the House, the Democrats gain two seats making the new tally 244-191 in favor of the Republican Party.
Tomorrow: We take on another electoral vote rich state in Texas.