(In the final days of an election, there is so much information from so many races, it's difficult to stay on top of every story and understand the subtle dynamics often at play on the ground. Thankfully, we have an expansive 50-state blogosphere to match our 50-state strategy. Over the last two weeks of the campaign, we've asked leaders of the state blogospheres to provide insight into late developments and share the stories of their states in a series we're calling "Listening to the Locals." SusanG)
Hello, everybody. My name is Phillip Anderson and I run a site about New York politics called The Albany Project. Though New York is hardly a swing state as Democrats hold a 5-3 registration advantage, an advantage that has surged in recent years, there is indeed much afoot in the Empire State this year. Barack Obama will take our 31 electoral votes by a large margin, we are going to take at least 3 House seats and maybe a 4th, and this is the year that we finally take back our GOP dominated State Senate. The real action is in those Senate races (where we could really use your help), but we'll start with the federal matches because I know that's what so many folks are interested in.
Capsules of four House races, a State Senate overview and profiles of eight top Senate targets follow.
NY-13: This seat wasn't on anyone's radar before May 1 of this year. That was the day that Rep. "Papa Vino" Fossella was arrested for driving drunk. We then learned that he wasn't kidding about those family values either because the man had not one, but two families. Not only that, but we then witnessed the absolute implosion of the once formidable Staten Island GOP as they scrambled furiously to find someone, anyone to run for the seat. They finally settled on some guy named Bob Straniere that everyone apparently despises. This seat will be won by New York City Councilman Mike McMahon. He's not going to knock your socks off, but he'll be a hell of an improvement over Fossella.
Awesome local blog you should be reading: NY-13 Blog.
NY-25: GOP incumbent Jim Walsh bailed on the Iraq War, bailed on Bush and decided to hit the road. Good riddance. This seat will be won by the man who almost took it in 2006, Dan Maffei. Maffei is a strong progressive who is going to make one hell of a Congressman. Keep your eye on Dan. This kid is going places.
NY-26: Tom Reynolds' retirement set off a rather vicious primary on the Dem side, though the biggest spender in the race, two time loser Crazy ass Jack Davis, is hardly a Dem. The bloodbath between Davis and netroots supported Iraq War vet Jon Powers destroyed both of them, allowing attorney Alice Kryzan to emerge as the Dem pick. She's running against another Iraq vet, one Chris Lee. This one could go either way. I wish I could tll you how this one is going to play out. I can't. It's a total crap shoot. If you can spare the change, Kryzan could really use your help.
Awesome local blog you should be reading: Rochester Turning.
NY-29: Netroots rockstar Eric Massa is back for round two and this time he's going to win. Eric was a good candidate last time, but trust me, he's gotten much, much better. "Shotgun" Randy Kuhl (R-Hair Club for Men) is in deep trouble and his "Democrats want Americans to suffer and to hurt" episode ain't helping. It wasn't by mistake that Kuhl ended up as a "goner" on the leaked "death list" memo. Now he's ducking reporters and canceling events, never a good sign. Massa is going to send his sorry ass packing.
Awesome local blog you should be reading: The Fighting 29th.
And now to fun stuff, the State Senate races. This is going to be an epic battle, and one we can win. The GOP currently holds a one seat majority in the chamber and they are playing furious defense from Long Island to Lake Erie. You might wonder how New York, a pretty blue state and one that gets bluer by the day, could have State Senate controlled by the GOP. There are a number of reasons and all of them stink. Senate districts in this state are ridiculously gerrymandered. Campaign finance law is a joke in New York. There are districts in upstate New York where prisoners from New York City are counted as residents for the purposes of apportionment. The list goes on and on. The NY GOP has used and twisted every rule in the book to hold on to their doomed majority and incumbency retention on both sides is ridiculous. It is far more likely that a legislator in New York either drops dead or goes to prison than gets defeated at the polls. That's a fact.
Once we oust the GOP from the Senate, their last state level power center, they aren't coming back for a long, long time, if ever. It's an existential fight for them and they know it. But they can only outrun their own shattered brand and the inevitability of demography for so long. Time's up for them. Here's some of our top tier Senate races, races where you can absolutely help. There are few places where your money and your time go farther or have a bigger bang for the buck than a New York State Senate race. These races have national implications as well. New York is going to lose at least one and probably two House seats after the next census. Would you rather lose say, Eric Massa or wingnut prick Peter King? I thought so. Here we go.
SD-3: Brookhaven Town Supervisor Brian Foley is running against 36 year incumbent Caesar Trunzo (R-FL) in a race with huge statewide implications. Trunzo is 82 years old, hasn't actually uttered a word on the floor of the Senate in over two years (seriously, no joke) and tends to nap in public (awesome pic at the link, btw). Trunzo probably shouldn't even be driving anymore and he damn sure shouldn't be in the Senate any longer. This is a huge race and one we can win. If you can, please drop some change in Foley's cup. And if you can get to Suffolk County, pick up a walk list. This one is important.
Awesome local blog you should be reading: Trunzo Watch.
SD-6 Newcomer Kristen McElroy is running against incumbent Kemp Hannon in what is something of a sleeper race. Very few people are talking about this race, but Hannon is awfully shaky in this suburban district and McElroy is a much better expression of the folks who actually live there. Keep an eye on this race. All the pros are.
Awesome local blog you should be reading: Nassau GOP Watch
SD-15: Serph Maltese, the GOP incumbent in this Queens seat, is a scumbag. There's really no other way to put it. There's plenty on the record already - rabidly anti-choice, anti-gay, and typical "family values" hypocrite. But there's more on the way and it will make your stomach churn. Maltese only kept his seat in 2006 by about 800 votes against a nobody from nowhere. This year he faces City Councilman Joe Addabbo. Another huge race and one that could very well flip the Senate.
SD-51 : Don Barber is probably my favorite candidate for any office in the state right now. He's a farmer and town official in Caroline, NY. Don is working his ass off in the most ridiculously gerrymandered district in the state, the infamous "Abe Lincoln riding a vacuum cleaner" district. He's running against Insurance Committee chair Jim Seward, a wholly owned subsidiary of the very industry he is supposed to regulate. Don is running on a platform of clean energy, sparking the green collar economy upstate and health care. He effin' rocks. Please, give 'till it hurts. Really. More Don Barbers, please.
SD-55: Former Bausch and Lomb exec David Nachbar is in a real street fight with incumbent Jim Alesi. Nachbar is extremely bright and actually has created jobs upstate. Both of these concepts are completely foreign to Alesi. This one could be a nail biter. In a just world, it wouldn't be. To say that Nachbar completely outclasses Alesi is a rather large understatement.
SD-56: Incumbent Joe Robach is yet another fine piece of work. He's a party switcher who was once described to me as "essentially unemployable in the private sector." He's also a pretty miserable human being. He showed up for a special session last year with two black eyes. He got them from the husband of the woman he was having an affair with. The woman also happened to be his employee. He's another family values hypocrite. He's being challenged this cycle by the man who used to hold that seat, Rick Dollinger. The only public polling in this race showed a Robach lead, but my hunch is that this race is actually much closer. The district includes a large part of urban Rochester and this race could all come down to to Obama's GOTV operation in the city. It's going to be a squeaker, but I think we pull this one off. Dollinger could really use your help and the folks of the 56th could really use to be rid of a scumbag like Robach.
Awesome local blog you should be reading: The Robach Files
SD-61: This a race for an open seat and one of our best pickup chances statewide. Our guy is retired professional boxer "Baby" Joe Mesi. Mesi, as he likes to remind folks, is undefeated in the ring and he intends to stay that way. The only public poll of this race showed a narrow Mesi lead against GOP hopeful Mike Ranzenhofer. This is a very winnable race and open seats are particularly rare. We need to make the best of them.
Awesome local blog you should be reading: Buffalo Pundit.
There ya go. I'm more than happy to stick around and answer any questions you may have or take the heat for not writing about one race or another. This is a watershed year in New York politics and we are busting our asses to make the best of it.
Read: The Albany Project