The Democratic primary results included an easy victory by a two-to-one majority of Mr. Cuomo over progressive candidate Cynthia Nixon who receive approximately 31%. The results of six primary races for democratic senate seats held by former members of the Independent Democratic Caucus (IDC) prove the power of the progressive and democrat parties over the IDC with five of the six losing in primaries including former head of the IDC, Jeff Klein. The only survivor was Staten Island Senator Diane Savino. The caucus’ existence had been threatened last year in a law suit and with primary challenges both of which were successful. Prior to the end of session IDC members rejoined the democratic majority in the Senate but that did not defuse the anger of democrats and the progressive movement. Until more is known of who turned out to vote and the percentage of eligible voters who participated drawing conclusions with wider implications if difficult. Recall, Mayor De Blasio won with only 17% of eligible voters casting ballots.
The successes of the progressive party suggest a revival of the “Liberal” party which attracted so few votes in past the party lost its line on the ballot. Without a detailed analysis of who turned out, the results might suggest new alignments of political factions motivated in part by the unpopularity of Pres. Trump – not unusual for New York – and the support of progressive candidates by public sector unions left with enough firepower following the Supreme Court’s Janus decision but that may eventually deprive them membership, money and influence.
This wave of progressive victories began with an unknown, Ocasio-Cortez’s, defeat of congressman Joe Crowley a democratic regular on the short list for speaker. That district includes parts of the Bronx and Queens, the racial and ethnic composition of which has changed dramatically in the past ten years.
A bromide confirmed by observation holds the way to unite fractious groups is to provide a common enemy. Gov. Cuomo in his State of the State message in 2010 clearly stated his hostility to the current educational establishment naming himself the leader of a reform movement – he would be the pupils lobbyist, promising to place a sign on his door – and placing a rather large bull’s eye on his back. His support of progressive legislation may have co-opted their issues but the fuse had been lit by Bernie Sanders in his 2016 challenge to Hillary Clinton, whose politics were not far enough left. Who knew.
The benefits of incumbency are name recognition, *large war chests, support of traditional allies and weak oppositional candidates. The progressive challengers in addition to lacking these did not appear aggressive, original, substantive or that interested at all, suggesting the underlying support of various factions, low turn-out in primaries generally and “common enemy syndrome” worked in their favor. *Where the money came from requires a trip into the weeds called the Board of Elections.
Democrats, and especially Progressives, have co-opted more traditional candidates in either party by choosing new comers, minorities, former military figures, women, not heretofore associated with typical candidates in either party. Remember Obama and the dems enjoyed overwhelming advantages to secure passage of ACA by congressional candidates moving to the right or center to unseat republicans who had been in the majority.
This does not bode well for republican control of the NYS senate but as Mark Twain is supposed to have said, “it is impossible to predict anything, especially the future.”