Sunday, August 26, 2012

New York U.S. Senate Race

Race of the Day

New York U.S. Senate

August 26, 2012
72 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2008 Presidential Race: Blue State (East)

Outlook: Safe Democrat

Many states are quite competitive on the statewide political level. The Empire State of New York is not one of them. Things have gotten very bad for the New York GOP, to the extent where it may be as difficult for them to win a statewide race as it is for Republicans in California, and as it is for Democrats in Texas. Nonetheless, Republicans did win some very competitive Congressional races in New York during the 2010 midterms, and they will look to defend those and perhaps pick up some others under the new map this year. However, there will be no drama in regards to whom New York elects to the Senate.

When Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State in 2009, the state's comically troubled Democrat Governor appointed a little known upstate Congresswoman named Kirsten Gillibrand to fill the seat. While Gillibrand had been considered more of a centrist on some issues, representing her district, she has moved significantly to the left since joining that body and representing the entire state. Still, she won a 2010 special election easily and just two years later now is competing for a full six year term.

Very few Republicans wanted to take on such a difficult battle in New York, but Republicans were pleasantly surprised when freshman Congressman Bob Turner announced he would run for the Senate. In one of the most surprising political stories of recent times, Turner was elected to the House in 2011 special election in a huge upset, after Anthony Weiner, the incumbent whom Turner was easily defeated by in 2010, resigned his House seat because he believed he had a special erection.

Regardless of this big GOP win in New York City, the House districts were due to be redrawn in advance of the 2012 elections. As Mr. Turner headed to Washington, his seat was basically eliminated. With no real chance of being reelected to the House, and perhaps realizing that his 15 minutes of political fame was worth capitalizing on, Turner decided to run statewide and challenge Gillibrand. Few expected him to defeat her, but most thought his political fame would help him win the nomination and that his strengths as a candidate could at least provide her with a credible opponent.

There was the matter of the June Republican primary though, after three candidates received enough support at the State Convention to advance to a chance to be voted on by the party's voters. Whether it was a case of not running a vigorous campaign, or taking his opponents lightly, or not having enough money to overwhelm the opposition, Turner managed just over 35 percent of the vote in the primary, and finished well behind the winner, attorney and conservative activist Wendy Long. While Turner had been considered pretty conservative, and even had the blessing of approval from Rush Limbaugh, a man whose television show he once produced, the conservative activists who dominated a primary that did not have much attention to it gravitated towards Long. It is fair to say that the strongest possible opponent for Gillibrand was not nominated, but in a sense, there was some good news, as Long, who had been nominated by the Conservative Party of New York, under the state's somewhat unique ballot system, already had a spot on the November ballot and would have only divided up the anti-Democrat vote.

So, it will be a blonde on blonde matchup in New York, but Long, despite being an articulate and feisty conservative, worthy of the New York political tradition, really has nowhere to go in this race. Gillibrand will return to the Senate, and Long will likely be seen more frequently as a panelist from the New York City studios of the Fox News Channel in the near future.

Long campaign link:

2012 U.S. Senate races predicted thus far: 12 D, 8 R
Predicted U.S. Senate Balance of Power thus far: 42 D, 45 R