This fall, New York voters will have important choices to make at the polls. Voters will elect candidates to the four statewide elected offices: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Comptroller. Candidates are elected to these offices for four-year terms, and elections are held in even-numbered years that are not presidential election years. Also, voters will elect candidates for all 63 seats in the State Senate and all 150 seats in the State Assembly; Members of the State Legislature are elected to two-year terms. New York voters will also choose a U.S. Senator (incumbent Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand faces re-election) and all 27 Members of the House of Representatives from New York. U.S. Senators are elected to six-year terms, while Members of the House of Representatives are elected to two-year terms. Some judgeships and local offices will also be filled this November.
While all of our state’s elections are important, the stakes are highest in the New York State Senate. (Democrats control the Assembly by a nearly three-to-one margin.) With the exception of the 2009-2010 legislative session, the Republican Party has continued its historic control of the State Senate for the past decade despite the continually-increasing Democratic voter enrollment edge across the state. Currently, the Senate Republican Conference holds a majority of 32-29, with two seats vacant. The Republicans have been helped by their alliance with the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) and by the fact that Democratic Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) has caucused with the Republicans for his entire Senate tenure. If the Democrats should retake control of the Senate, and if Gov. Andrew Cuomo were to be re-elected, the Democratic Party would have full control of New York state government.
This fall, potentially vulnerable Democratic senators include first-term Long Island Sen. John Brooks (D-8th Dist.). Potentially vulnerable Republican senators include Long Island Sens. Carl Marcellino (R-5th Dist.), Kemp Hannon (R-6th Dist.), and Elaine Phillips (R-7th Dist.), as well as Brooklyn Sen. Marty Golden (R-22nd Dist.), Hudson Valley Sens. Bill Larkin (R-39th Dist.) and Terrence Murphy (R-40th Dist.); if Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-50th Dist.) becomes the Republican candidate for Governor, the race for his vacated Senate seat could be competitive as well. The winner of the upcoming April special election in Westchester County’s 37th Senate District will also likely face a close race this fall. At this time, it appears more likely than not that the Democratic Party will take control of the State Senate after the fall elections.
Christians, we have a responsibility as citizens to vote—and to vote our values. Are you currently registered to vote? Are you registered at your current address? If the answer to either of these questions is “no,” please click here and register to vote today.
On the national level, the questions to be answered in the fall elections concern the fate of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Following the improbable election of Democrat Doug Jones last year in Alabama, Senate Republicans hold a tenuous majority of 51-49. To further complicate matters, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) are struggling with health concerns that may impact their continued availability to hold elected office. Vulnerable Democratic seats include seats in Florida (Sen. Bill Nelson), Indiana (Sen. Joe Donnelly), Missouri (Sen. Claire McCaskill), North Dakota (Sen. Heidi Heitkamp), and West Virginia (Sen. Joe Manchin). Vulnerable Republican Senate seats include the Nevada seat held by Sen. Dean Heller and the open Arizona seat being vacated by Sen. Jeff Flake, who is not seeking re-election. While it is still early, the fact that Democrats are defending 26 Senate seats and Republicans are defending only eight makes it more likely than not that the Republicans will maintain a narrow majority in the upper house this fall.
The situation in the House of Representatives is harder to predict. Will House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and his Republican compatriots, who currently hold an enrollment advantage of 239-193, continue to control the House? Or will the Democrats, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), take back 25 or more House seats and retake the majority? Democrats’ chances at retaking the House are bolstered by the retirements of several Republican Members, by President Donald Trump’s low approval ratings, by general liberal outrage at the direction of the country, and by the fact that the party that is out of power tends to do well in the congressional elections that take place at the two-year mark of a new presidential administration. However, Republicans’ chances are enhanced by demographic advantages and by the fact that elections in non-presidential years tend to feature an older and more conservative group of voters than elections in presidential years. Here in New York, Members of Congress facing close races include freshman Reps. John Faso (R-NY-19) and Claudia Tenney (R-NY-22).
What does the battle for the House of Representatives really mean? If the Republicans maintain control of the House, they will be able to continue passing conservative measures. If the Democrats retake the House, they will be able to block all conservative legislation and stymie the President’s agenda. In addition, a House majority could give the Democrats the opportunity to fulfill a cherished left-wing goal: The impeachment of President Trump.
At this time, the outcome in the House is just too close to call; however, we believe that those hoping for a sizeable Democratic win are likely to be disappointed.
Christians, our state and our nation have big decisions to make this fall. We should play a part in those decisions. Are you currently registered to vote? Are you registered at your current address? If the answer to either of these questions is “no,” please click here and register to vote today.