NY GOP Centrists Surge in the Polls

October 29th, 2010 at 5:58 am | 11 Comments |

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Election night could bring a surge of Republican members from New York, order erasing Democratic gains over the past two election cycles and providing an important Republican counterbalance to the more militant tea party Republicans also expecting victories.

There are currently only two Republicans in New York’s congressional delegation, prescription but with a good dose of luck, that number could be as high as six or seven by January. Rob Ryan, a New York Republican communications consultant, notes that voters haven’t been this disenchanted since the mid-1990s, leaving Republicans with an opportunity to make major gains.

“When I ran the governor’s race in 1994, there was a lot of anger that put [Republican George] Pataki over the top. Well, that’s nothing compared to this year. This year is ten times, twenty times what was going on there,” said Ryan.

Empire State Republican candidates Matt Doheny, Michael Grimm, Nan Hayworth, and Randy Altshuler are all in competitive races with Democratic incumbents.

Republican Matt Doheny leads incumbent Democrat Bill Owens in New York’s 23rd congressional district, a district that’s heavily conservative but elected a Democrat due to Dede Scozzafava and Doug Hoffman splitting the vote in a November 2009 special election. A Siena poll released this morning showed Doheny surging by six points to within the margin of error, with 37% compared to Owens’ 40%.

However, the ghost of Doug Hoffman continues to haunt the Doheny campaign. Although Hoffman lost the Republican primary, his name remains on the ballot as the candidate of the New York Conservative Party. Despite suspending his campaign, he retains a whopping 15% of the vote. To his credit, Hoffman has suspended his campaign and endorsed Doheny, even appearing recently at an event with former Governor George Pataki to oppose the reelection of Bill Owens.

Nan Hayworth, top of her class at Princeton and educated at Cornell Medical School, is another New York Republican challenging a Democratic incumbent. A Siena poll released yesterday showed her within the margin of error in the suburbs north of New York City.

Randy Altschuler, a Republican businessman on Long Island, remains in a tight race against Democratic incumbent Tim Bishop. One campaign source tells FrumForum that an internal poll taken within the last week shows Altschuler within two points. Bishop’s campaign is desperately bringing in the big guns, reportedly asking Andrew Cuomo, Bill Clinton and Joe Biden to campaign and fundraise in the dying weeks of the campaign.

Michael Grimm, a former FBI special agent and a Gulf War veteran, is facing one-term incumbent Democrat Michael McMahon. McMahon’s campaign made news earlier in this election cycle by releasing a list of Grimm’s Jewish donors to the media. This could be a Republican pickup: the GOP controlled the seat from 1993-2009, and McCain and Bush won there in the last presidential elections.

To add to the Empire State surge, Republicans George Phillips, Ann Marie Buerkle and Chris Gibson are all giving their Democratic opponents a run for their money.

On election night, a lot of focus will be put on how the Tea Party has influenced the political map. But don’t forget about the new Republican members from New York. They’re intelligent, capable, and fresh-thinking northeastern Republicans. They’re on balance more moderate, and, from what one can tell, unanimously against the shutdown of government.

Indeed, an Empire State Republican surge would form a necessary and important counterbalance to the more militant tea party Republicans that are expected also to win next week. Let’s not entirely neglect the smaller narratives: there will be centrist Republicans winning here.

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11 Comments so far ↓

  • mpolito

    In the NY-23, you said Doheny leads, but then cite a poll that shows him behind. Come again? I hope voters realize that Hoffman has dropped out.

    Boris Shor had a piece about centrist Republicans too. I hope they all do win, because any of them would be a vastly better Representative than a Democrat. But let’s not go crazy here. All 10 of the candidates Boris mentioned are running in D+ districts, as rated by Charlie Cook’s Partisan Voting Index. But there are 234 R+ districts, and only 192 D+ districts. So the GOP needs to win in the districts Tim mentioned (they are either even or R+) but does not need to win in D+ districts (although it would obviously be good). This is a structural situation that is unlikely to change in the near future.

  • Cforchange

    These candidates look like real Republicans – accomplished in fields other than mastery or trickery of the law and balance sheet.
    This is hopeful.

  • CentristNYer

    So why has the party been so ineffective at nominating credible, centrist candidates for statewide races? For about the third or fourth election cycle in a row, the GOP has fielded AWFUL people for the Senate and, particularly, the Governorship.

  • Tim Mak

    Blame Cox?

  • eugibs

    I’m glad to see that in the last few weeks NY13 has started to appear on everyone’s radar screen as a potential Republican pickup. I’m born and raised in this district, and I can attest that it is a very conservative district (more so than even its R+3 status would indicate). In its current gerrymandered form (the Dems long ago decided to put all the Republicans in NYC into one district), McMahon is the only Democrat to win the seat. And consider what needed to happen for him to win it: (1) Vito Fosella was forced to retire in disgrace, (2) the handpicked Republican successor (who was favored to defeat McMahon) died a few months before the election (3) 2008 was a Democratic wave election, and (4) the Conservative Party did not endorse the Republican, and ran their own candidate.

    McMahon has compiled a fairly moderate voting record and has about 10x as much cash on hand as Michael Grimm, but I just don’t think it will save him in this district in this year. Admittedly, the race is very hard to gauge because there has not been a single independent poll done it this election season. However, the anecdotal evidence (lawn signs, Facebook following, the district’s voting history, the peculiar facts that lead to McMahon winning 2 years ago in the first place) all looks very Grimm for McMahon (pardon the pun).

  • easton

    The question is how big will Paladino’s negative coattails be? A lot of people care only about the big ticket races and will they show up and split their ticket, stay home, or create reverse coattails, that is the lower dragging in the higher.

  • Adam Tannenbaum

    I hope you don’t forget about some excellent pragmatic candidates running for lower-profile but vital state offices, as well as current officeholders.
    Harry Wilson is our candidate for State Comptroller. A young financial services executive with a Harvard MBA, he took a leading part in the recent turnaround of General Motors. Comptroller is the office charged with auditing state government functions and managing the state employees’ pension fund. The office gained notoriety when Alan Hevesi abused its perks for personal priveleges and embezzled from the fund.
    Dan Donovan is running for Attorney General. He is currently the District Attorney of Staten Island. He is committed to reforming Albany and investigating the corruption that stems from member items in the legislature.
    Rob Astorino is the newly elected Westchester County Executive. Astorino, then a little known candidate, trailed 12-year incumbent Andrew Spano by double digits under two weeks before the election before pulling off the state’s biggest upset of 2009. He is the former Executive Producer of The Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio.

  • CD-Host

    In its current gerrymandered form (the Dems long ago decided to put all the Republicans in NYC into one district)

    That would be gerrymandered to the Republican’s advantage. If you are a Democrat you would want to spread the Republicans out thinly. You probably want to pull additional Republicans in from the suburbs to even further disempower them as a percentage of the electorate. Essentially your goal is to have as many 60/40 districts in your favor as possible. More than 60 you are “wasting” your voters, less than 40 you aren’t crippling enemy voters enough.

  • mpolito

    Incidentally, New York is not gaining population; it is losing population. Therefore, it will be losing several House seats very soon, and they will be going to red states. Consider: New York’s population in 1970 was 18.2 million. Today, it is around 19.5 million. Not very much growth. Texas, by constrast, had a population of 11.1 million, and today has a population of 24.7 million. I’d like to win in New York too, but is not the future for the party, or the country.

  • easton

    mpolito, NY has a white population of 59.9% Blacks 17.2% Asian 7.1% and Hispanic at 16.8%
    Texas, otoh has a white population of 46.7% Blacks 12% Asian 3.6% and Hispanic at 36.9%
    This is from: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/48000.html

    Man, I didn’t realize that Texas was so close to being permanently a blue state. Minorities already make up more than half the population (yes, many are young but they won’t be forever). If NY, California, and Texas go Democratic for President, the WH is lost to the Republicans forever.
    If I were a Republican this would scare the hell out of me.

    Thanks for the hat tip mpolito. Republicans need more Marco Rubios, less Tancredos

  • eugibs

    CD-Host –

    That is one way to look at it. Another is that they decided to concede one district in the hopes of making all the others in the city as strongly liberal as possible. At least that is what I always assumed was their rationale. If not, why else would they take the very small, affluent, mostly white part of Brooklyn that I am from and lump it together with all of Staten Island, with which it is far more demographically similar? Why not trap this smaller group of likely Republican voters in an all-Brooklyn district that will then likely be overwhelmingly minority? Either they are sinister or they are stupid. Take your pick.