Is NY’s Democratic Party giving Republicans an opening?

Are scandal-plagued Democrats like Vito Lopez giving Republicans an opening in New York?

The last couple of elections, we’ve seen a weird parting of ways in New York between the fortunes of Democratic candidates and the fortunes of the Democratic Party.

On the one hand, Dems now control every statewide office.  And there’s a fair argument to be made that Republicans only hold their majority in the state Senate because of aggressive gerrymandering.

The Empire state, no surprise here, is about as blue as blue can get.  Even parts of New York that were once GOP strongholds — in the North Country and the western counties — have turned purplish.

But set against that record is a drumbeat of corruption stories and disarray within the Democrats’ Senate caucus.  This week, state Sen. Shirley Huntley was indicted for allegedly creating a sham non-profit that stole roughly $30,000 in public funds.

Then there’s word that Assembly Democrats may have shelled out $103,000 to cover a settlement for sexual harassment charges leveled against top Brooklyn lawmaker Vito Lopez.

Meanwhile, Gov. Cuomo seems to have largely abandoned his own party’s Senate caucus, winking at the notion that he’s just as happy partnering with Republican leader Dean Skelos.

And no wonder.  It’s a mess, with minority leader John Sampson apparently incapable of unifying his fractious members, several of whom side regularly with the GOP.

I also hear a lot of grumbling among progressives, who have begun to look toward smaller, more ideologically comfortable parties, the Working Families and the Greens.

For the time being, the weakness of the Democrats had only one major impact:  allowing Republicans to regain control of the Senate, despite demographic and voter-enrollment trends that should, in theory, consign the GOP to the back benches.

That historic flub also allowed Republicans to influence this year’s redistricting process, which means that their gerrymandered advantage in the Senate will continue to shape New York’s politics for years to come.

Otherwise, the relatively strong slate of Democratic candidates — and weak slates on the Republican side — have served to conceal the erosion of the party brand.

But I wonder if the situation that exists now might not create an opening for Republicans to regain some ground statewide.

Moderates like Michael Bloomberg and George Pataki have shown that it’s possible to build winning coalitions, if Democrats are divided and muddled and wounded by scandal.

What do you think?  Can Republicans capitalize on weakness across the aisle?  Do you see an opening for a Republican gubernatorial candidate after Andrew Cuomo leaves the scene?  Comments welcome.



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6 Comments on “Is NY’s Democratic Party giving Republicans an opening?”

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  1. Hmmm? The GOP’s ability to work across the aisle is strength but the Democrats’ willingness to do so is weakness?

  2. Pete Klein says:

    There is a disconnect when it comes to politics and Americans.
    We like to think of ourselves as individuals but how can you be an individual if you belong to a party?
    Every, any and all political parties are like all religions. The leaders expect you to check your brain at the door and follow them. Why? Because they want power over you. They want you to do as they say, not as they do. On their own, they have no power. Power is what they lust for and the only way they can get it is by you giving your power to them.
    Just imagine. For the next six or so weeks we are forced to listen and watch political ads when we could be enjoying some commercials for products that are sometimes better than the programs they butt into.
    And after all is said and done, the campaigning for the next election will begin.
    If you want to know why many people don’t bother to vote, the reason is they know they will need to figure out their own life no matter who wins what. They know no one is going to save them from anything.

  3. Mervel says:


    I don’t know if these labels apply in NYS? It seems more about the politics of groups and patronage versus anything to do with actual philosophy.

  4. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Get rid of the crooks.

  5. tootightmike says:

    Haven’t you heard Brian? “Were all New Yorkers here.” That the Republicans and Democrats can find common ground and move forward instead of left and right should be a cause to rejoice…at least something gets done.
    The gerrymandering is stupid and shameful, and corruption needs to be weeded out of all levels of government in order to restore confidence. Local governments are the place to start.

  6. Mervel says:

    This is kind of interesting.

    When there are not true philosophical difference between parties one would think this would be a good thing? But is it? At that point you are no longer arguing about ideas and policy, but about power and patronage. I would almost prefer ideological gridlock.

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