Democrats will dominate New York’s statewide office and Legislature. Gov. Andrew Cuomo begins term three with new challenges and Republicans are shut out. Here’s a look at what happens in the aftermath of the 2018 election:
The first few weeks of 2019 are going to feel like heady days for freshman and veteran lawmakers alike in Albany. Democrats could move quickly with their new two-house legislative majority in the Legislature to pass measures meant to make it easier to vote, like early voting, same-day voting, consolidating the state and federal primaries, etc. At the same time, Democrats could act to bolster abortion rights with the passage of the Reproductive Health Act. But there are other nettlesome issues to tackle, such as the New York Health Act — the single payer bill Republicans cast as a threat to taxpayers’ wallets. The measure could set up the first real policy clash between Senate Democrats and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has supported the single-payer bill on the federal level. Cuomo may be counting on the Democratic conference to display suburban sensibilities. After all, Senate Democrats are poised to hold five of the nine Long Island Senate districts and make pickups in Westchester County and Hudson Valley districts. These lawmakers will represent constituents who flinch at tax increases. As a new core group of liberal and progressive Democrats take office in the Senate, Cuomo may work to cultivate allies from suburban districts.
The third term of Gov. Andrew Cuomo will truly be a new era for him. He’ll be negotiating budgets with two black lawmakers who lead the state Senate and Assembly with comfortable Democratic majorities. He will likely continue to be a prominent and forceful counterweight to President Donald Trump. And he will likely continue to, through sheer force of personality and bending others to his will, push hard to get what he wants. Cuomo after eight years in office will not be talked about in the context of a 2020 bid for the presidency. He’s a prodigious fundraiser, wins by comfortable margins and has run up an array of victories friendly to liberals. But he’s shown little appetite for a presidential run. In term three, he’ll likely back the legalization of marijuana and criminal justice law changes. But third terms can be tricky, if not downright disastrous — and Cuomo knows that. What is plan is for avoiding the third term blues will be interesting to watch.
The New York GOP has been dealt another loss in all its statewide races. It’s a decades-long tumble for the party in both enrollment and now power statewide. The streak of Republican losses statewide now extends to 16 years. At the same time, the party is once again out of power across state government, losing control of the state Senate for the first time since the 2008 election. More troubling for the party still is the apparent margin of victory for Democrats. If all eight district flips hold, Senate Republicans will have a true bloodbath on their hands. Redistricting looms in 2022. Where do Republicans go from here? There are occasional rumblings of replacing Chairman Ed Cox. But the job of state chairman is an undesirable one. And Republicans need someone who can both raise money and recruit candidates. It’s not that Cox has failed on those counts: On paper, candidates like Marc Molinaro or Keith Wofford could have been formidable. But the circumstances of enrollment and the suburban revolt were perhaps too difficult to overcome.
The election was not a good one for Republicans, as noted at the top here. The GOP’s once-vaunted bench of county executives who could run statewide, has started to thin. So, should Cuomo attempt a fourth term, who runs against him? Former Rep. Chris Gibson is likely automatically in the mix, having sidestepped a statewide campaign this year and instead chaired the campaign of Marc Molinaro. Another possibility is Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Long Island Republican who has been a critic of the governor. Whoever does wan to launch a bid for 2022 ought to start now — like, right now. Raising money to run for governor is expensive and Molinaro struggled with the fundraising against Cuomo. Republican Rob Astorino, who unsuccessfully challenged Cuomo in 2014, spent about $6 million. Cuomo spends tens of millions of dollars.