‘Trump Effect’ Nearly Wipes Out Westchester GOP, Republican Incumbents Fare Better Elsewhere in Hudson Valley
John Jordan | November 2017
WHITE PLAINS—While political pundits can debate the extent of the “Trump effect” on races in Virginia and elsewhere, in the Hudson Valley region if there was any tangible impact of the Trump Administration on Election Day it was mostly felt in Westchester County.
In a contentious contest, Democratic New York State Senator George Latimer defeated Republican incumbent Robert Astorino by a wide 57% to 43% margin. While Astorino in his concession speech did not put the blame on President Donald Trump, who has seen his national approval rating slip below 37% according to some recent polling, one veteran Westchester County legislator pinned the loss directly at the feet of the former real estate titan.
Republican Westchester County Legislator Jim Maisano took to Facebook the day after the election and said, “I feel like I have a hangover and did not even get drunk. I am sitting here blown away. The Westchester GOP was wiped out last night—only a few of us survived—because tens of thousands of voters in our county went out to vote the straight Democrat ticket in a protest against Trump. That’s just a fact.”
The current vice chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators continued that he was not shocked by the results and he and fellow GOP colleagues actually saw it coming over the last several months, but did not realize the protest vote would be so severe. He pointed out that in some races GOP incumbents lost 10% or more of their vote from prior elections.
“Several of my friends and colleagues on the Board of Legislators—all excellent legislators—lost to Trump more than to their opponents. I’ve been involved in the political world since 1992, and yesterday was by far the worst day for the Westchester GOP and it will be very difficult to recover, especially as long as Trump is president,” he noted. Maisano could not be reached for further comment at press time.
Democratic Westchester County Clerk Timothy Idoni easily turned aside the challenge from GOP nominee Jim Chisolm by a wide 64% to 36% tally.
Other possible GOP political casualties included almost every GOP candidate in the City of Peekskill. At press time, Democrat Andre Rainey defeated Republican incumbent Peekskill Mayor Frank Catalina by a slim 2,528 (51%) to 2,445 (49%) margin. According to the Peekskill Post, the Democrats took the mayoralty and swept the City Council races. The lone survivor was Westchester County Legislator John Testa of Peekskill who won re-election, easily defeating Democratic challenger Nancy Vann by a 56% to 44% margin.
Elsewhere in the Hudson Valley, the GOP fared much better. Republican incumbent Rockland County Executive Ed Day easily won a second term of office, defeating Democratic challenger Maureen Porette by a 54% to 43% margin.
A day before the election, Day announced that an outside audit revealed that the county’s deficit of $138 million he inherited four years ago would be cut to zero by the end of the 2017 fiscal year. The county issued a $98-million bond several years ago to partially reduce the deficit.
“We have gone from $138 million deficit to zero in four years without raising taxes,” County Executive Day said. “It’s a near miraculous turnaround of a county that was on the brink of fiscal collapse.”
Also bucking any negative Trump effect was Orange County Executive Republican incumbent Steve Neuhaus, who coasted to a re-election victory over Democratic nominee Patrick Davis by a 59% to 40% margin.
Other key races and statewide and municipal ballot proposals included the landslide victory by Democratic White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach, who won re-election the day after the Common Council voted to approve the controversial French American School of New York (FASNY) project.
On the statewide ballot, two state constitution proposals were on the ballot. The first that proposed to convene a constitutional convention was easily defeated by nearly 78% of those who voted.
The second was a pension forfeiture amendment to the New York State Constitution, sponsored by New York State Assemblyman David Buckwald, (D-Westchester County), that easily was approved by a about a 67% to 25% tally. The proposal would allow a court to reduce or revoke the public pension of a public officer who is convicted of a felony that has a direct and actual relationship to the performance of the public officer’s existing duties.
“I am very pleased that New Yorkers have voted with such high margins in favor of Proposal 2. Residents of the Empire State have overwhelmingly shown that they are tired of ‘businesses as usual corruption’ in Albany and have sent a clear message to state officials that we should no longer tolerate abuses of office. As a New Yorker, I am proud that we have passed this constitutional amendment that is a critical step towards the ethics reform we need,” said Assemblyman Buchwald.
The controversial ballot question involving the separation of the orthodox Jewish community of Kiryas Joel (later to be called the Town of Palm) in Orange County from the Town of Monroe was overwhelmingly approved by a nearly 84% to 17% margin.
CID Panel to Discuss Election and Trump Impact
The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors Commercial Investment Division will hold a meeting on Thursday, Nov. 16 to discuss Election 2017 and how the races shape the future of the Hudson Valley and the nation going into 2018 and beyond.
Guest speakers at the CID program that will begin at 10 a.m. will be: John Ravitz, executive vice president and chief operating officer of The Business Council of Westchester, and Evan Stavisky, partner with the Parkside Group, a New York City-based consulting and public affairs firm.
Here are some of the unofficial results from various Board of Elections on key races and ballot questions.
Westchester County Executive
George Latimer, Democrat 116,767 — 57%
Rob Astorino, Republican 89,463 — 43%
Orange County Executive
Steve Neuhaus, Republican, 42,015 — 59.26%
Patrick Davis, Democrat, 28,856 — 40.70%
Rockland County Executive
Ed Day, Republican 43,561 — 54.31%
Maureen Porette, Democrat 34,761 — 43.34%
Thomas Sullivan, Conservative, 1,835 — 2.29%
Putnam County Sheriff
Robert Langley, Democrat 11,732 — 49.72%
Donald Smith, Republican 11,397 — 48.30%
Town of Palm (Kiryas Joel) Proposal
Yes 8,656 83.19%
No 1,749 16.81%
Proposal One – Constitutional Convention
Yes 547,776 — 15.69%
No 2,711,229 — 77.65%
Proposal Two – Public Pension Forfeiture Reform
Yes 2,321,053 — 66.47%
No 869,281 — 24.90%