New York Democrats need a strategy, but which one?


New York is one of the bluest blue states, but Democrats here and elsewhere had a lousy night on Tuesday.

“I think the Democrats underperformed in this election, not just in New York State, not just on Long Island, but across the country,” said the president of the State Democratic Party of New York, Jay Jacobs. Capital tonight. “It’s the same thing we saw in 2009 after Barack Obama’s first year in office.”

Jacobs argues that Republicans are just energized this year.

Longtime political strategist Bruce Gyory, of Manatt Phelps and Phillips, agrees with Jacobs that there has been a “red wave” of Republican voters this year. However, he believes something else is happening as well – than Tuesday’s sad demonstration by Democrats in the Virginia gubernatorial contest, as well as in the races for the Nassau County executive and both. Long Island district attorney’s seats can be attributed to what he calls the Republicans’ ability to “militarize” wedge issues.

In the Virginia run, for example, the local issue was parental choice in education. The political firmament is ripe for this fight thanks to a nationwide Republican campaign on an issue they call “critical race theory.”

While this legal theory is mostly taught in college and senior university courses, the narrative that is being expressed in policy debates across the country is that K-12 teachers are planting the seeds of white guilt and / or trans rights in the minds of children against the will of their parents.

While the race for governor in Virginia is perhaps the most publicized case, the invocation of ‘parental choice’ in the curriculum – not just the selection of schools – has a national moment. In state legislatures. and school board meetings across the country, politicians and parents are speaking out against transgender rights and teaching “critical race theory” ” The Washington Post writing.

“The Republicans have done a great job militarizing education,” Gyory said.

The same thing happened on Long Island. The only difference was the issue the Republicans “militarized”.

“The Republicans have armed the public reaction to bail reform,” Gyory said. “It not only hurts [Todd Kaminsky, candidate for Nassau County DA], he pulled down [Laura Curran, incumbent Nassau County executive.] Everyone expected Curran to win in double digits. She’s 4% behind, though absent will likely help tighten things up, but it’s hard to see her go past a 4% advantage.

Moreover, outgoing Democratic District Attorney Tim Sini lost double digits in Suffolk County.

“The difficulty you face is that Democrats are always pushing forward policies, ideas and laws designed to face current challenges and improve lives,” Jacobs said when asked if Democrats haven’t. managed to sell a counter-speech. “The problem you have is the Republicans are going to try to take everything they can and use it to its worst effect.”

Jacobs’ argument appears to be that Republicans willfully misinformed voters about bail reform.

Gyory doesn’t buy it.

He says Democrats can’t rely on lists of reasons why voters should support them. They need a story.

“Until you have a counter-narrative that addresses that concern, the other side will keep running,” he said.

What does all this mean for Democrats in 2022?

“I think we need to come together on a strategy to deal with the challenges the state faces in advancing a moderate and progressive agenda,” Jacobs said. “This doesn’t mean that we are abandoning some of the bigger and bolder ideas that some on the left have articulated.”

Gyory is a little more pessimistic.

“The mood is against [the Democrats,]” he said.

Gyory highlights inflation, various variants of COVID-19 and the economy, although that may all change by next year.

Moreover, he said Capital tonight, New York Democrats are too dependent on their enrollment advantage, which is not universal.

“Progressives don’t see these issues on the West Side of Manhattan or in Astoria or the West End of Brooklyn where it’s hard to find a Republican with a microscope,” Gyory said. “But the real power elsewhere in the state is driven by unaffiliated voters.”

An example? The advantage of Democratic registration in Nassau County did not matter, as Democrats simply did not vote on Tuesday in the same number as Republicans.

“There is a roadmap for Democrats to go back to it, but they can’t presume participation and they can’t just patronize their eyes when Republicans present a narrative that many Democrats deem false and unfair. They must refute. Or as Claire McCaskill said on MSNBC last night, Democrats must avoid recriminations, pivots and punches. And I thought it was a good wording, ”Gyory said.

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