2020’s Off-ballot winners and losers
- Nick Langworthy: The new GOP state chairman, with little money in his coffers, took out NYC Democratic Rep. Max Rose and successfully thwarted State Senate Democrats by turning their progressive-socialist agenda against them.
- Pat Lynch: The NYC PBA president wielded harsh rhetoric and many dollars to paint New York City as sliding into dangerous chaos because of new criminal justice measures that he claimed were anti-police.
- Ron Lauder: The conservative cosmetics magnate spent more than $3 million to support GOP State Senate races and pay for ads that focused on the controversial bail reform laws.
- Working Families Party: The group endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren for president but the progressives swallowed, and put Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on their ballot line in New York to reach the threshold turnout number needed to win an automatic ballot line.
- Gerard Kassar: The Conservative Party chair expanded and revitalized the party he took over in 2019 from Mike Long, who ruled it for three decades. It, too, met the ballot access threshold with Donald Trump leading the ticket.
- Bill de Blasio: The NYC mayor started this election cycle running for president and ended it as the punching bag for Donald Trump and state and local Republicans.
- Mike Gianaris: The political chieftain boasted of winning a Democratic super majority in the State Senate to override vetoes and shut down the GOP’s role in redistricting. Instead of adding the bulletproof two seats, they could be down about three or four seats when the absentees are counted.
- Andrea Stewart-Cousins: The State Senate majority leader failed to protect the suburban and upstate members of her caucus from the rush by progressives to push through a flawed bail reform measure. The Senate eventually made some fixes, but the GOP took the first version and ran with it.
- Jay Jacobs: The Nassau County and state Democratic chair was in the watchtower while Republicans gained ground in the state and locally.
- The Parkside Group: The sole advertising, polling and political consulting firm used by Senate Democratic candidates got millions of dollars but didn’t deliver the goods.
- Independence Party: It chose to keep the vision that a party should stand on its own ideals and run its own candidates. It got crushed with Brock Pierce and may soon be extinct.
- Green Party: Same strategy. Having principles doesn’t mean you win.
—Rita Ciolli @ritaciolli
An end to the Long Island Six?
The Long Island Six, as the Democratic majority in the State Senate had come to be known, may be no more.
The question is just how many of the six will fall.
The answer lies mostly in those absentee ballots — which will be counted beginning Nov. 10.
Three of the six — SD8’s John Brooks, who might have lost if the Republicans hadn’t screwed up their nomination causing it to be thrown out by the courts, SD9’s Todd Kaminsky and SD7’s Anna Kaplan — are safe.
Even the mail-in ballots may not be able to close the gap for SD3’s Monica Martinez. Martinez is losing to Republican newcomer Alexis Weik by more than 13,000 votes.
In SD5, there is disagreement on whether Jim Gaughran can hold on to his seat. If he does, it will be the absentee ballots in Suffolk County that will offset the pummelling he got in the Nassau County part of the district, sources told The Point.
"There are nearly 30,000 absentee votes, the majority of which appear to be from Democrats," Gaughran spokeswoman Marissa Espinoza said in a statement. "It is vital that every vote be counted. I’m confident that this full count will favor Senator Gaughran."
SD6’s Kevin Thomas, meanwhile, has the smallest gap to close of the three — with less than 8,000 votes separating him from Republican veteran Dennis Dunne.
"Kevin Thomas was targeted like no one else, and he’s right there," State Sen. Mike Gianaris, who chairs the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, told The Point Wednesday. "When the paper is counted, we’re optimistic he’ll remain a senator."
Thomas said in a statement that he’s "optimistic and confident."
"I won my seat in 2018 by one of the closest margins in all of New York State," Thomas said. "I knew I would be in for another tough fight this year."
Others on the ground weren’t so sure, saying Thomas has about a 25% chance.
Senate Democrats faced a barrage of attacks from law enforcement PACs, particularly for loosening up bail requirements for criminal defendants and getting caught in the defunding-police semantics.
But several observers said President Donald Trump’s strength at the top of the ticket might have made the difference.
"I’ve done this long enough to know that the top of the ticket drives 90% of the outcome," Gianaris said.
But Biden is expected to finish the count in Nassau County ahead by about 30,000 to 40,000 votes, so if the top of ticket was the reason, Thomas would be winning, other Democrats argue. For them, it’s likely the public safety issues and the effort to link Long Island Democrats to their New York City counterparts that put Republicans on top.
—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
Uncle Sam & Luise
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Election Day roundup
1). Few local races captured this year’s absentee-ballot dynamic as strikingly as Assembly District 4 in Suffolk County.
Democrat Steve Englebright, the dean of Long Island’s Assembly delegation, has represented the district since 1992. But when all the Election Day ballots were counted, there was Englebright staring at a 1,967-vote deficit to Republican challenger Michael Ross.
Nevertheless, on Wednesday Englebright told The Point, "I’m feeling pretty good."
The reason: the absentees. Englebright said about 13,000 mail-in ballots were received from the 4th District, and they skew his way — about 7,000 from Democrats, 2,500 from Republicans, 3,000 from blanks, and a few hundred from other parties.
2). Democrat House incumbent Tom Suozzi is likely to amass more votes in 2020 than he did four years ago, not that Wednesday’s numbers reflected that outcome. As of now, Suozzi is losing to George Santos, a political unknown from Queens, by 4,126 votes in the 3rd CD, a swing district. However, there are almost 73,000 absentee ballots unopened and the registrations of those voters break 3-to-1 Democratic.
Suozzi is running ahead of Joe Biden in his district and because of that he predicts that his 2020 total will be higher than his win against established Nassau County Republican Jack Martins in 2016 when Hillary Clinton was at the top of the ticket.
3). Rep Lee Zeldin credits his win in Suffolk County to actual door-to-door campaigning but also the surprising strength of Donald Trump. "The president’s energy fed the voters’ energy here and elsewhere," Zeldin said.
And Zeldin also believes, although he hasn’t seen the ballots to prove it yet, that a significant percentage of Biden voters will have split their ticket to vote for the Shirley Republican as well.
Wednesday afternoon, Zeldin had 61.35% of the vote, with 176,528 votes, to Democrat Nancy Goroff’s 38.65% and 111,064 votes. There are 64,909 absentee ballots outstanding in his district assuring him a healthy margin. First elected in 2014, Zeldin says he runs like he’s behind no matter what his polls tell him, and this year was no exception. But the fact that the polls did predict a much closer race than his almost-certain win looks to be now did push the campaign even harder.
As for what Zeldin has to look forward to in his next term, he said that no matter whether the GOP gains or loses a few House seats, none of the things that need to get done nationally, like a COVID-19 stimulus bill or bringing together the Fire Island to Montauk Point shoreline project, can get done without bipartisanship in his chamber and the Senate.
—Michael Dobie, Rita Ciolli and Lane Filler