The restive mood of the country was reflected in election results across the country. Frustration with the economy led many to vote against House of Representative incumbents. The Democratic National Committee expected to lose the House by as much as 40 seats. It did not expect to lose 57 seats, ceding control to Republicans. The Senate retains its majority.
President Obama took his share of responsibility for the outcome Wednesday afternoon. Obama stated he regrets the loss of progressive voices who voted in favor of his big agenda items – health care reform, financial reform, consumer financial protection, and education reform. The president assured citizens he will continue to reach out to Democrats and Republicans to find common ground and solutions to the nations pressing problems. He will not, however, support dismantling of initiatives already enacted and will work with Senate majority to ensure those initiatives stay in place.
Despite Tuesday’s election results, New York is still a blue state. Democrats swept all three statewide positions with Andrew Cuomo the next governor, Eric Schneiderman the new attorney general, and Tom DiNapoli elected comptroller.
After barely two months of campaigning, mostly via publications, Cuomo’s election was widely seen as a foregone conclusion. Cuomo’s election as governor made history by being the first son to be elected to the position his father had. Convincing and shrewd, the Cuomo campaign attracted 2.5 million votes, 61% of the total, against Carl Paladino (33%), who each week seemed to find newly innovative ways to implode.
Schneiderman found himself in a statistical dead heat with rival Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan during the weeks leading up to the election. Schneiderman commanded 55% of the vote over Donovan’s 43%. With tentacles running deep into NYS’s communities, Schneiderman demonstrated respect for diversity by speaking Spanish and Chinese on the campaign trail. Donovan found his campaign needing last minute cash infusions, but the twin endorsements of Mayor Bloomberg and former Mayor Ed Koch did not help him.
Tom DiNapoli was appointed by Governor Paterson after former comptroller Alan Hevesi became entwined in a corruption scandal. DiNapoli was opposed by Wall Street executive Harry Wilson, who was endorsed by all three major NYC newspapers. Despite tepid support from Cuomo and other Democrats, DiNapoli eeked out a narrow lead over Wilson, 49% to 47%.
All of central Brooklyn’s federal and state officials have been re-elected with commanding leads over their opponents.
Nationally, 57 House seats switched to Republican from Democratic control. Republican control of the House of Representatives had local implications. As of 2011, Ed Towns, Congressman for the 10th district, will no longer chair the Oversight and Governmental Reform Committee. That duty will go to Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who plans to make good on his promise to plaster the White House with subpoenas.
The Republican sweep has taken President Obama’s former Senate seat in Illinois. That seat, temporarily held by Roland Burris to fill the unexpired term of Obama, is now held by Republican Mark Kirk.
Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell ran for Vice President Joe Biden’s former Senate in Delaware. The most conservative candidate among national conservatives, O’Donnell was seen as somewhat bizarre and had a campaign commercial that began with the line “I am not a witch.” She was defeated by attorney Chris Coons.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid faced the toughest campaign opponent of his career. Sharron Angle was another extremely conservative Tea Party candidate who told Reid to “man up” during a debate.
Money couldn’t buy voter love. In Connecticut, former WWE executive Linda McMahon was defeated by Richard Blumethal in her quest for a senate seat despite spending $50 million. In California, former eBay owner Meg Whitman spent $160 million including $140 million in personal funds, only to lose to former governor Jerry Brown.
Within NYS, the Assembly retains Democratic control. The question of whether the State Senate remains with a Democratic majority has not been decided as of press time. Former Councilman Tony Avella defeated three decade incumbent Frank Padavan. There are three seats being contested: Suzi Oppenheimer in the 38th District, Anton Thompson in the 60th, and Craig Johnson in the 7th District.
Assemblyman Karim Camara summed up the post-election mood. “Now, the election is over. We must start focusing on governing,” Camara said. “Whether Democrat or Republican. Black or white. Upstate or downstate. There is a wide consensus that we have to state government more effective and functional.”
“For so many of us who represent urban centers, we have to make sure that government responds to the needs of the people we represent,” he said. Camara offered education as a top priority. “We must end the disparity in the quality of education that children receive at different ends of the economic spectrum.” Camara has additional priorities. “We focus on education, but zero attention is directed to joblessness.” Camara’s other legislative priorities include health care, housing, and criminal justice.
Whether newly elected or re-elected, Tuesday’s election gave representatives notice that voters have high expectations for their service.