It was a good day for Democrats around the country, unless you lived in Maspeth, Queens. Democratic Party leaders are still bickering over the 2016 campaign, but on Tuesday the party took two governorships in New Jersey and Virginia by wide margins and held onto mayoralties in Boston and Detroit, while voters approved Medicaid expansion in Maine.
In New York, Democratic mayor Bill de Blasio easily won a second term, soundly defeating Republican Nicole Malliotakis 66 to 28 percent, according to Board of Elections results. Voter turnout in the city was abysmally low — about 22 percent of registered voters compared with 24 percent four years ago and 56 percent in last year’s presidential election. Out of 1.1 million ballots cast, hizzoner won 726,361 votes, amounting to less than 9 percent of all New Yorkers. The tabloids met his victory with the enthusiasm of passive-aggressive parents tolerating their daughter’s lackluster boyfriend at Thanksgiving. At his election night party, de Blasio vowed to fight for a “fairer” New York by nudging Albany legislators to fix the property tax system, raise income taxes to pay for subway improvements, expand early childhood education, and make voting easier. He’ll be lucky to go one for four.
Democrats declared victory in two county executive races in the New York suburbs. In Westchester, Democratic state senator George Latimer toppled onetime Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino 57 to 43 percent, while county legislator Laura Curran appears to have edged former state senator Jack Martins in Nassau County 51 to 48 percent, although Martins had not conceded as of Wednesday morning. Both Democrats campaigned relentlessly on fighting political corruption. Latimer gained traction from an Astorino donor, a witness in a federal corruption probe, who testified he helped the Republican buy a Rolex watch. Curran was helped by voter disgust over outgoing Republican Nassau exec Ed Mangano’s corruption charges — Mangano’s trial will occur in January.
There was only one upset in last night’s City Council races: Democratic Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley appears to have fumbled her re-election bid to Bob Holden, who ran on the Republican line and who leads her by 133 votes out of 20,341 ballots cast, according to BOE records. Holden, who lost to Crowley by a two-to-one margin in the primary, claimed victory, but election officials will recount the results. Crowley would be the second Democratic woman in a year to lose elected office in central Queens, after voters ousted Assemblywoman Marge Markey in an upset last September, as an argument over locating homeless shelters and jail facilities in Queens continues to roil residents.
Elsewhere in the city, Democrat Justin Brannan nipped Republican John Quaglione by 895 votes in a battle of seasoned Bay Ridge political aides, Councilwoman Margaret Chin outlasted activist Christopher Marte in Lower Manhattan 50 to 37 percent, and Councilman Mathieu Eugene fought off Brian-Christopher Cunningham 60 to 36 percent in Flatbush.
Voters overwhelmingly turned down an opportunity to revise the state constitution by a five-to-one margin. The ballot measure, which would have catalyzed a constitutional convention in 2019 and elections to pick delegates to attend, was rejected by 78 percent of voters statewide. Labor groups that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in a campaign against the proposal were pleased with the result, but good government groups and activists who hoped to achieve ethics and election reform without the legislature’s help saw their small “d” dreams destroyed.