New York Democrats come out of this midterm election with so much clout in state government that Republicans retain only a shadow of a presence.
President Donald Trump’s stream of public jeers in recent weeks could not have helped his home-state party. Instead, he provided left-of-center partisans nationwide a symbolic and spiritual rationale for their ambitions.
Democrats cruised their way to keeping the governorship, the comptroller’s office and even the attorney general’s post vacated six months ago when a lurid personal abuse scandal pushed out the previous elected incumbent, Eric T. Schneiderman.
Some of Schneiderman’s biggest headlines reflected the $25 million settlement, in conjunction with other states, of the famous case against the defunct Trump University by its ex-students. Newly elected AG Letitia James, until now the New York City public advocate, has pledged to continue another stinging lawsuit, involving a defunct state-filed Trump charity.
Further, the state’s legal enforcement role also could expand with the president’s latest threats to the status of special counsel Robert Mueller.
“New York is not buying what President Trump is selling. We know his type too well,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo taunted from his victory rostrum Tuesday night after his GOP challenger, Marc Molinaro, drew only 37 percent of the vote. The second-term governor had crafted an exaggerated connection between Molinaro and the president.
Not only will all statewide elected offices still belong to Democrats, but come Jan. 1 that will be the case for both houses of the State Legislature. The party’s dominion within the Empire State also includes the New York City municipal government, both U.S. Senate seats, most of the state congressional delegation and the Suffolk, Nassau and Westchester county executive offices. The state’s top court consists of Cuomo appointees.
All this augurs further political resistance to various White House policies. Blue states such as New York and California are waving a progressive banner on immigration, housing, federal health care funds and offshore oil drilling.
The new “in” party’s margin in the State Senate appears to reduce its need for coalition with minority Republicans still led by Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport). The Senate changeover figures to mean less clout for charter-school advocates and more for teacher unions, defying the goals of Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
Albany lawmakers could now explore ways to codify abortion rights in the state in anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and to impose criminal justice reforms at odds with the Justice Department’s agenda.
Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will incur little risk at home by trying to perform on a national stage. Despite the president’s pockets of defenders around the state, the winds of anti-Trumpism are picking up.