AS NEW YORK GOES, SO GOES THE NATION?
E.J. Dionne opines that the state GOP's problems in New York state are the national party's nightmare.
As a result, the entire Democratic ticket, led by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Eliot Spitzer, the party's candidate for governor, is expected by just about everyone to sweep the state. As many as five Upstate Republican congressional seats -- they would constitute a third of the 15 seats that Democrats need to win the House -- are in jeopardy.
"It's 'The Empire State Strikes Back,' " says Democrat Dan Maffei, a former congressional aide who is running a surprisingly strong race against Rep. Jim Walsh, the Republican incumbent, in a district that stretches from Syracuse to the Rochester area.
Maffei sees the immediate trend toward Democrats powered by frustration with President Bush and the Iraq war. But it is also rooted in long-term factors: the economic troubles of many Upstate communities, the area's "libertarian" leanings on cultural issues and the homelessness felt by many moderate Republicans in the face of a national party increasingly dominated by conservatives.
"Bush Republicanism," Maffei says, "is not for them."
"The two trends are quite universal," de Blasio says. "There's a growing body of suburbanites who are increasingly concerned about the rightward drift of the Republican Party, and voters very worried about what's happening to real wages." Paul Tokasz, the retiring Democratic majority leader in the state Assembly -- he hails from Cheektowaga, just outside Buffalo -- says the same suburban movement away from the Republicans that is so visible in the New York City area is happening in metropolitan areas across the state.
As New York goes, so goes the nation?
From a distant view (Texas), I can't comment with any real knowledge of how New York and the larger northeast United States are leaning politically -- I can only quote those who have such information. But our upstate New Yorker daughter-in-law's family, who live in a small town near Syracuse, are Hillary supporters. They are blue-collar Catholics (their district is heavily Catholic). Her dad is in his mid-seventies; her mom, who is much younger, works part-time to augment their income; and they vote their economic interests -- including a strong Social Security system. They're put off (to say it mildly) by the evangelical religious right. And they're anti-Bush.
It's one of the few things we have in common.