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New York Democrats had high hopes going into the 2020 election. They thought they could add to their numbers in the state’s House delegation by winning in some traditionally Republican districts, and capture a veto-proof supermajority in the State Senate.
But preliminary vote totals seemed to dash the hopes of Democratic officials and indicated a resurgence of Republican power in New York’s suburbs.
Because of the pandemic, New York is counting a record number of mail-in ballots. Most counties and New York City will not start tabulating those ballots until Monday. That means voters will have to stay patient for the official results.
Still, on Wednesday evening, Republican candidates were favored to win most of the closely contested House races. Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican state assemblywoman, had declared victory in her contest against Max Rose, a Democratic incumbent, who represents Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn. On Long Island, Andrew Garbarino, a Republican, also had proclaimed victory over his Democratic challenger, Jackie Gordon. Neither contest had been called by The Associated Press.
Jesse McKinley, The Times’s Albany bureau chief, spoke with me about what the election meant for New York politics. Here are excerpts from our conversation, which has been slightly edited for brevity and clarity:
Q: What happened in New York on election night?
A: Democrats who thought they were going to ride another “blue wave” didn’t see that happen. The enormous number of voters who came out in 2018 for progressive candidates in the midterms may have materialized, but they were counteracted by fired-up Republican voters drawn to the ballot box, probably by President Trump.
The end result is that whereas a couple of years ago you had eight Democrats winning seats in the State Senate and progressives like A.O.C. bursting onto the scene, this year they’re fighting to maintain the status quo in the State Senate and they’re looking to lose a couple congressional seats.
So, it’s not a great outcome for New York Democrats, who have been dreaming of a supermajority in the State Senate or a completely blue congressional delegation — but still it’s not a disaster.
What do the state’s Democrats think about the results so far?
I think in terms of state politics, they are disappointed that they’re not going to build on majorities in the State Senate. And they’re very cautiously optimistic that they may win the presidency, and for Democrats everywhere that’s been the biggest prize of all.
They’re also pleading for patience in the same way Joe Biden’s campaign has. They say that there’s likely to be a red mirage on election night that will be cleared up afterward, and that process is ongoing.
What about Republicans?
They thought they had a great night. They thought they were going to pick up seats; they thought they were going to build up momentum for next year’s mayoral race in New York City and build up momentum for 2022.
Would you call this a “red wave”?
I think no. I think it proves to people who are Republicans and who are conservatives in the state that they still have a seat at the table and can win races. But New York is not getting more red. It’s getting more blue.
From The Times
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The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.
What we’re reading
New York City sheriff’s deputies stopped a performance billed as a “presidential death match” in Williamsburg that they said was violating social distancing rules. [Daily News]
A man was arrested on charges that he held his girlfriend and her 7-year-old son hostage for days in a Manhattan apartment; he’s accused of beating them and raping the mother. [NBC New York]
Beloved Chinatown eateries are closing, raising the question of how businesses built on low prices and high volume can survive. [Grub Street]
From @nytarchives on Instagram:
Do you know what this machine is?
If you do, you are of a certain age and remember when voting used to be a tactile affair: Step into the booth, push the buttons for your candidates, then pull down the lever to cast your ballot. The wheels of democracy at work!
On Election Day in 1975, Grace Webster scanned the list of questions as she waited for voters on 143rd Street in Harlem, New York, according to the Times photographer Eddie Hausner, who captured the scene.
In contrast, this fall many New Yorkers did not touch a voting machine. According to election officials, more than 1.2 million voters sent in mail-in ballots statewide.
It’s Thursday — make the day count.
Metropolitan Diary: Not fine
“How are you?” a stranger asks as the L train slings us through the tunnel into Manhattan.
“Fine,” I say. “You?”
“Not fine,” he says, laughing a little. “Thanks for asking. Nobody is just fine!”
Maybe it was the coffee seeping into my bloodstream or the way I get dizzy sometimes when traveling underground, but suddenly I spit out the truth.
“My day is awful.” I say. “I’m quite lonely, scared that I won’t do much with my life except ride this train to and from work.”
“Now we’re talking!” he says, signaling me with his hand to continue.
I spend a minute sharing my life news. He spends a minute sharing his. We look around and then back at each other and laugh.
When he exits the train, I watch him walk away and turn in the same way he has probably done plenty of times before. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice his lips curl up into a smile.
For the first time in a while, I feel a bit more than just OK.
— Jen Glantz
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