It was a campaign that seems to have started years ago and looked like it would never end. It’s finally a wrap on Election 2022.
Actually, it is technically over, but there will still be some absentee and military ballots to count, which will officially take a couple weeks. The suggestions that voting fraud distorted the results have already surfaced from disgruntled Republican candidates in other parts of the country who lost their elections.
Here are some facts and observations.
Republicans have may retaken control of the House of Representatives, but surprisingly on the morning after the election that development is neither clear nor confirmed. The Republicans’ expected red wave or tsunami was a fiction. Throughout the country Democrats are winning multiple seats that the experts had projected as toss-ups or leans Republican.
The Reps might still win a majority, but it will be a very small one and their caucus will come with a significant asterisk: 80 of the Republicans elected to the House are 2020 election deniers who consider compromise a dirty word. Perhaps more importantly, with the party’s Crazy Caucus ranks growing considerably, those members are just as likely to cause Kevin McCarthy headaches as to bother Democrats. Marjorie Taylor Greene would be like the de facto speaker.
Locally, Congressman Brian Higgins, Congresswoman Claudia Tenney, and Republican candidate in the 23rd District Nick Langworthy won their elections as expected.
Results for Senate elections throughout the country are muddled as the votes are counted in four or so tight races. A run-off election appears likely in Georgia. The next several weeks may be very unsettling as the Trump/Republican election conspiracy theories kick into high gear.
Governor Kathy Hochul’s win certainly was closer than expected earlier this year. The scare campaign financed by billionaire Ronald Lauder on behalf of Lee Zeldin was one of the major contributing factors to the close results.
Here’s an historical note to put things in perspective a bit: in both Mario Cuomo and George Pataki’s first wins for governor their victory margins were less than five percent.
Hochul has been on the go on multiple fronts since she assumed the office in August of last year, managing the state government, the Covid pandemic, a state budget and of course, a vigorous election campaign. All worked out in her favor. There are still many issues to deal with in state government but having a new four-year term to work on such matters should allow for a steadier pace.
Democrats won the other statewide offices for United States Senator, State Comptroller, and Attorney General by margins that were smaller than anticipated. The closest of those elections was for Attorney General, where incumbent Leticia James was re-elected by a margin of about 8 percent. James’ legal challenges against Donald Trump likely led to a closer than expected win.
Local races for the Assembly, despite very active Republican campaigning, saw wins that could be expected given party enrollment — albeit closer than the enrollment spreads. Assemblymembers Monica Wallace, Karen McMahon, Bill Conrad, and Pat Burke will all be returning to Albany for another term. There’s a footnote to that point, however. By court order Assembly District lines will need to be re-drawn for the 2024 election.
In the most hotly contested local legislative race, Senator Sean Ryan defeated Senator Ed Rath, although the victory margin (13 percent) was less than the Democratic/Republican enrollment margin (30 percent). Rath will leave office on December 31, but he could emerge a few weeks later as a candidate for Erie County Executive in 2023.
After being decisively defeated in the June Democratic primary, County Clerk Mickey Kearns stuck to issues directly related to the office of County Clerk while Democrat Melissa Hartman’s TV advertising used part of her TV spot’s time to attack Kearns about national issues, abortion and NRA-gun control. It is very hard to defeat an incumbent County Clerk. The last time it happened in Erie County was in 1974, when Democrat Jane Starosciak defeated incumbent Republican Bob Grimm.
There were five State Supreme Court seats on the ballot in the 8th Judicial District, but four party cross endorsements left only one seat to be contested. Democrat and Working Families Parties’ candidate Buffalo City Court Judge Shannon Heneghan ran against County Legislator Joseph Lorigo, the choice of the Republican and Conservative Parties. Heneghan ran well in the Erie County portion of the District, but the more conservative rural counties gave Lorigo the win, overcoming the Erie County margin.
The three remaining members of the County Legislature Republican caucus will now choose a successor for Lorigo to serve in 2023. The new legislator, per Section 2605 the County Charter, must have “the same political affiliation as the person last elected to such office.” Lorigo is a registered Conservative.
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