Former deputy mayor and MTA Chair Joe Lhota decisively beat back his billionaire opponent tonight in the Republican mayoral primary, despite the onslaught of millions of dollars worth of negative mailings and television ads.
Though he’d called John Catsimatidis’s ads “amazingly disgusting” earlier today and seemed to have little patience for another challenger, Doe Fund founder George McDonald, Mr. Lhota offer an olive branch to both of his opponents in a victory speech delivered to cheering supporters at a Midtown hotel.
Flanked by a coterie of elected officials, Donovan Richards declared victory last night in a wide-open, eight-way Queens City Council special election. Seven miles south, Pesach Osina did the same exact thing.
With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Richards leads Mr. Osina by just 26 votes, easily making the 31st District race too close for observers to call. Vote counting ceased at midnight and will resume today, but at last glance, Mr. Richards had 2,513 votes to Mr. Osina’s 2,487. In addition to a potentially missing memory stick from a ballot scanner, absentee and paper ballots still need to be counted. A recount is also likely, but each candidate acted like the undisputed victors nevertheless.
With last night’s elections, a number of seats changed hands between the Democratic and Republican parties across New York State, and indeed the entire country. But in the five boroughs of New York City, it was a one-way street.
At the congressional level, for example, the city lost half its Republican representation with the exit of Queens’ Bob Turner, who unsuccessfully ran for his party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate. GOP Councilman Dan Halloran had his sights on the remnants of Mr. Turner’s district in northeastern part of the borough, but the area’s solidly Democratic tendencies allowed Assemblywoman Grace Meng to easily leap over Mr. Halloran and secure a new gig in Washington D.C.
Although most of the attention last night was rightfully placed on the presidential race, a number of important state legislative campaigns were also waged, which, depending on how they turn out, could potentially have a significant impact on the legislation and policies that emerge out of Albany in the coming years. Notably, control of the New York State Senate hangs in the balance, and if Democrats win there, the party would control the trifecta of the state government as they already have an overwhelmingly majority in the State Assembly and a similarly aligned governor.
With one temporary exception, the senate has been continuously controlled by the GOP in recent years. Despite a large fundraising edge and an aggressive gerrymander which appeared to have locked in a Republican majority for the immediate future, a number of surprisingly strong Democratic victories pushed back against the conventional wisdom that they had no chance at reversing their fortunes this year,
New York State started off as a key battleground in the Democrats’ battle to retake control of the U.S. House, especially after the courts intervened in the redistricting plan and shook up a lot of traditional boundaries. However, most of these races were focused in areas further Upstate and the suburbs, leaving the heavily Democratic New York City with just two congressional elections of note.
In Queens, Democratic Assemblywoman Grace Meng faced off against GOP Councilman Dan Halloran for a seat crafted from the district remnants of outgoing Congressmen Bob Turner and Gary Ackerman. Despite Mr. Halloran’s polling showing the race a tie, those numbers did not pan out and Ms. Meng is currently ahead by roughly 2-to-1, which matches how Democrats have historically performed within the area.
No surprises here. President Barack Obama and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand both emerged victorious in New York State tonight.
Although countless voters remain in line at New York City precincts, which are required to remain open for all voters who showed up before 9 p.m., the Empire State’s overall preference for Democrats was still enough to overwhelm any ambiguity as to the ultimate victor.