Originally published in the Albany Student Press, 11/15/05
When I learned that every Republican running for office in Glens Falls, my hometown just south of Lake George, had a viable Democrat challenging him or her, I was happy. Not because I’m a Democrat, but because there was one-party rule for far too long.
Sure, a Dem would get elected here and there. Ward 1 and Ward 5 often had Dems in their seats, and once in a great while there might be a Democratic mayor. So why were the Republicans so worried? So what if they have competition? They have incumbency to stand by!
Well, not any more. Glens Falls is now a Democratic stronghold, and it is not the only municipality to toss out its Republican leadership.
– Dutchess County Democrats went from being overwhelmingly Republican to being one seat short of the majority
– Ulster County Democrats took control of the Legislature
– Saratoga Springs, for the first time in decades, has a completely Democratic council
– Rensselaer County District Attorney Patricia DeAngelis lost an upset for the county judgeship to Democrat Robert Jacon
– Suffolk County Republicans lost their foothold, electing a Democratic majority
– Oswego Democrats took over the city council
The list continues. The Democrats stole election day in Upstate NY.
New York Dems have always enjoyed a 5-3 enrollment advantage over their Republican counterparts, though it has always been “blamed” on New York City that New York is a Blue State. However, with the population shift north that Sept. 11 caused, and with the paradigm shift right that George W. Bush has caused, it looks like the blue-bloods have spread statewide.
In policy classes, we often speak of the “window of opportunity.” When certain events open the floodgates for interest groups to finally get their voices heard. Sept. 11 allowed for the Republicans to gain ground on terrorism and international policies. Gay marriage allowed the Religious Right to gain ground at the polls in 2004. And, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina opened all of our eyes to notice that we need to start focusing on domestic issues that affect people’s lives, not monitor their bedroom activities.
Couple that with the fact that Northeast Republicans have always been far to the left of their national counterparts, as well as the northward migration from New York City, and you have a window open.
So, 1400 miles north of the Gulf Coast, the Upstate Democrats used this window to get a foothold in the towns that have been solidly Republican for so long.
Next year should be interesting. I would stay tuned to your local newspapers. Local government may not be as sexy as Capitol Hill, but it is where all the real work gets done. And now some things are going to be done differently.