Nach New York during election season, Democratic political heavyweights usually come only to raise funds for the party. This is different this fall: Hillary and Bill Clinton, Kamala Harris and finally Joe Biden have all appeared at rallies in the state in recent days to support Governor Kathy Hochul.
Biden attempted to mobilize his own supporters Sunday night in Yonkers, Westchester County. The appearance in the New York City area revealed how nervous the party is shortly before the elections on Tuesday. Only one Republican has resided in the governor’s mansion in Albany since 1975. The state is known to be a stronghold of the Democrats. Hochul, who took over the governorship last year after Andrew Cuomo’s resignation, topped her Republican challenger, Congressman Lee Zeldin, by 17 percentage points in polls over the summer. But the lead has melted away, in one survey even to just four percentage points. The Democrats in New York are sounding the alarm.
Zeldin belongs to the “America first” wing of his faction in Congress. On January 6, 2021, he supported Donald Trump’s attempt to prevent Biden’s election victory from being authenticated. Of course, the Republican doesn’t talk much about that during the election campaign. In view of the economic concerns of the people in the country, he not only promises tax cuts, but also presents himself as a law-and-order man and accuses Hochul of having failed in the fight against crime. Although she counters that her challenger is relying on a fear campaign. Internally, however, Democrats admit that Zeldin hits a sore spot.
Republicans hope for New York
The Republicans are also hoping to gain some congressional seats in New York. Elise Stefanik, member of the parliamentary group’s executive committee in the House of Representatives, even predicted a “red wave” for her party in the state. The rural Northwest MP, who earned the then President’s favor in Trump’s first impeachment trial, predicted Republicans would win 15 of New York’s 26 seats in the first chamber of Congress. Eight of the 27 congressional districts are currently in Republican hands. The state loses a seat after the most recent 2020 census.
Stefanik says “America first,” the former president’s nationalist slogan, will remain her party’s message, no matter who leads it. The era of “Rockefeller Republicanism” is finally over. The term, named after former New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, once stood for the moderate current of the party on the East Coast, which was fiscally conservative but sociopolitically liberal. This wing of the “Grand Old Party”, which has always been viewed critically by the Christian right, especially in the southern states, is now under constant fire from the Trumpists.