Democratic Inroads

Election Analysis, DC Deadline, NY Budget Season

Good morning from the Nation’s Capital where Democrats are celebrating another better than expected election cycle, especially the successful ballot measure to shore up reproductive rights in Ohio and taking full control of the Virginia Legislature. In New York, the picture was more nuanced. 

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello won reelection handily against challenger Mark Assini, making him the first Democrat ever reelected as County Executive in Monroe County.

Bello’s landslide helped down-ballot Democrats win back the majority in the Monroe County Legislature by a three-seat margin. In Erie County, incumbent Democrat Mark Poloncarz won his fourth term as County Executive, defeating Republican Chrissy Casillio who faced an uphill battle in a solidly blue Erie County. Perhaps the closest race of the night was the battle for Cheektowaga Town Supervisor. When polls closed on Tuesday, Democrat Brian Nowak held a 36 vote lead over Republican Mike Jasinski and has since seen that margin increase to 47 after a number of absentee ballots were counted. The two candidates, both current Town Board Members, are likely headed to a manual recount as required by law. In addition, Democrats won several DA races in the Hudson Valley.

Down the I-90 in Onondaga County, Republican Ryan McMahon also won reelection as County Executive. The GOP maintained their 42 year hold on the County Legislature, with Republicans winning 10 of the 17 seats and one race still too close to call. In the race for County Clerk, Democrat Emily Essi holds an 83 vote lead over Republican incumbent Lisa Dell as that race heads to a recount. The best results of the night for Republicans came from Long Island.

In Suffolk County, Republican Ed Romaine won a sound victory over Democrat David Calone to become County Executive. Romaine’s victory gives the GOP solid control over Suffolk and Nassau counties where they now hold both county executive seats, the district attorney’s offices, comptrollers office, and all four Congressional seats.

Tuesday’s results confirmed for many New York politicos that the gains made by the GOP in 2022 Congressional races were not a one-off. This is the third election in a row where Democrats exceeded expectations nationally, but underperformed in New York. Looking ahead to 2024, that could prove problematic for Democrat’s chances of retaking the House. Republican wins in 2021 foreshadowed more dramatic gains for the GOP in 2022 and the results from this week could very well lead to the same in 2024. 

This is the third election in a row where Democrats exceeded expectations nationally, but underperformed in New York. Looking ahead to 2024, that could prove problematic for Democrat’s chances of retaking the House.

Depending on the outcome of the redistricting case set to be heard by the New York State Court of Appeals on Wednesday in Buffalo, New York will likely have six competitive house races next year, four of which will be on Long Island. Running on reproductive rights has worked for Democrats nationally, but New York’s strong abortion protections have undercut that issue here. Instead, affordability, public safety, and the migrant crisis were all winning issues on Election Day, especially Downstate. Freshman Nassau County Rep. Anthony D’Esposito offered, “We’re seeing that we can win in districts that Joe Biden won…{Democrats} realize that we are the party of protecting our quality of life; we are the party of law and order; we are the party of hard work.” In the Bronx, the GOP won a city council seat for the first time in 40 years as Kristy Marmorato defeated Democratic incumbent Marjorie Velázquez. Bronx GOP Chairman Michael Rendino, who is also Marmorato’s brother, said the race was “a wake up call to the Democratic Party.”

Democratic City Council Member Justin Brannan won reelection in a heated race against Republican Ari Kagan for the Brooklyn based council seat. Brannan has been at odds with the Brooklyn Democratic Party and Chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn after publicly trading criticism of each other. In his victory speech, Brannan said, “We’re certainly not going to forget those who tried to bring us down in some of the toughest moments of this campaign.” 

In Ohio, Democrats won a major victory on a ballot referendum to enshrine the right to an abortion in the state constitution. Former President Donald Trump won Ohio in both 2016 and 2020, however the measure was approved by over 56% of voters, showing that reproductive rights are still a major turnout driver for Democrats in the post-Roe era. Seeing the writing on the wall, Ohio Republicans attempted to pass a ballot measure of their own in August that would have increased the threshold for new constitutional amendments from a simple majority to 60%. Had that proposal passed, the ballot measure on reproductive rights last week would have failed. Heather Williams, the interim President of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee said of Tuesday’s results, “Ohio’s resounding support for this constitutional amendment reaffirms Democratic priorities and sends a strong message to the state GOP that reproductive rights are non-negotiable.” Democrats are working to get similar measures on the ballot in states like Arizona and Missouri for 2024 in the hopes that it will drive turnout for President Biden’s reelection effort. 

“Ohio’s resounding support for this constitutional amendment reaffirms Democratic priorities and sends a strong message to the state GOP that reproductive rights are non-negotiable.”

Heather Williams, interim President of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

That message was further reinforced by a sweep in Virginia where Democrats gained full control of the state’s General Assembly, allowing them to thwart Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin’s 15-week abortion ban. Virginia is the only state in the South that has not passed new abortion restrictions following the overturning of Roe v. Wade and Democrats made the issue the focal point of the election. Given that every seat in the General Assembly was on the ballot, there were a number of competitive races that Democrats are hoping will serve as a bellwether for 2024. Democrats made huge gains in the suburbs of Richmond and Washington, D.C. that ultimately allowed them to flip the House of Delegates and hold their Senate Majority. Tuesday’s results were a big loss for Governor Glenn Youngkin who spent an enormous amount of time and political capital helping fellow Republicans try to replicate the success he had in 2022.

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin getting out the vote.

Youngkin is term-limited out of office in 2026 and has been rumored to be eyeing a 2028 presidential run after declining to enter the field in 2024. In Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, won reelection against Republican challenger and current State Attorney General Daniel Cameron. In even better news for Democrats, the Kentucky gubernatorial contest has predicted the winner of every presidential election since 2003. 

The Democratic wins were certainly a welcome sight in the White House after a series of swing state polls released last week showed President Biden trailing former President Trump in a hypothetical rematch. Across the six swing states surveyed, the results were +10 Trump in Nevada, +5 Trump in Michigan, +6 Trump in Georgia, +4 Trump in Pennsylvania, +5 Trump in Arizona, and +2 Biden in Wisconsin.

President Biden has seen his support slip the most among voters under 30 and Hispanic voters, both of which now only favor Biden over Trump by single digits. Across the six swing states, President Trump has 22 percent support among Black voters. If that holds through election day, it would be the highest level of support for a Republican presidential candidate among Black voters in modern times. Both men remain deeply unpopular with the broader electorate and voters very well may end up choosing whoever they dislike the least. 

In other election news, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced he will not be seeking reelection. The news is a major blow to Democrat’s hopes of maintain Senate control in 2024 as Manchin was widely seen as the only Democrat who could win in deep red West Virginia.  

In a video release, Manchin said, “After months of deliberation and long conversations with my family, I believe in my heart of hearts that I have accomplished what I set out to do for West Virginia.” Aside from being an occasional thorn in the side of his fellow Senate Democrats, Manchin was well known for living in a houseboat on the Potomac River during his time in Congress. 

In Washington, D.C., the Federal Government will officially run out of funding on Friday. Instead of dealing with that pressing issue, House Republicans moved forward last week with a censure of Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a bill to reduce the salaries of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to $1, and had to pull a transportation funding bill off the Floor after objections from NY Republicans over cuts to Amtrak funding. Even the bill that funds the Treasury Department, IRS, and Judiciary— largely considered noncontroversial— was pulled from the floor last week after more than 100 amendments were proposed. House Speaker Mike Johnson has so far been able to pass 3 of the 12 annual spending bills and his predecessor, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, passed 4 of them before he was unceremoniously thrown out of the Speaker’s Office.

That leaves 5 bills to go to avoid a government shutdown ahead of the November 17th deadline, or pass another short-term Continuing Resolution (CR). Republicans have indicated they will give Speaker Mike Johnson more leeway than McCarthy, but opposition to last CR threw the Republican Conference into chaos and paralyzed the House for weeks. Speaker Johnson has also proposed a plan that would include a two-tier CR, funding some parts of the government until January 19th and others until February 2nd. The CR would however keep the government funded at current levels. The plan increases the chances of a government shutdown as Senate Democrats have opposed the two-phased approach and some House Republicans have begun to raise concerns that the bill will not cut government spending. 

While that plays out in the Lower Chamber, a group of Senate Republicans are seeking to tie President Biden’s $106 billion aid request for Israel and Ukraine to a measure that would scale back asylum claims at the Southern Border. The original request from the White House does include funds for the Southern Border, but according to some Senate Republicans, it is not enough. Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, one of the authors of the proposal said, “We’re not going to try to secure other countries and not secure ours.” Among other changes, the bill would modify the “credible fear of persecution” standard that is used when determining whether an asylum threat is credible, with the current standard of “significant possibility” would be upped to “more likely than not.”

Democrats have decried any conditions on an aid package and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has been working across the aisle to pass an aid package after the House delivered a bill that Schumer called “dead on arrival.”

Back in New York, federal investigators have ratcheted up their investigation into Mayor Eric Adams’ 2021 campaign over alleged illegal campaign contributions from the Turkish government. Last week, FBI agents approached Adams on the street and executed a search warrant, seizing two cellphones and an iPad. The investigation, which until this point had only involved his chief fundraiser, Brianna Suggs, is looking into whether Adams conspired to receive illegal campaign contributions with the Turkish government through a local developer, KSK Construction, and a small college in Washington, D.C., Bay Atlantic University. When Suggs’ home was raided earlier this month by the FBI, Adams abruptly left D.C. to return to the City, though he has denied any wrongdoing and said he wanted to be there for Suggs who was going through a “traumatic experience.” There will be much more to come on this story. 

Budget season unofficially kicks off this week in Albany with the Department of Budget, Senate Finance Committee, Assembly Ways and Means Committee, and State Comptroller holding the annual “Quick Start Meeting” to discuss revenue and spending estimates for the upcoming fiscal year. Ahead of that meeting, Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means have each released reports outlining their respective estimates for FY 2025 revenue and disbursements. The Quick Start Meeting will take place on Tuesday at 11 a.m. and can be live-streamed here

Former President Trump was back in court in New York to testify in his civil fraud case being brought by New York Attorney General Tish James. Trump remained defiant, proclaiming from the stand “the fraud is on the court, not on me” amid repeated pleas from Judge Engoron to defense attorney Chris Kise to “control your client.” When asked by the prosecutor for his thoughts on the Attorney General’s valuation of his properties, Trump looked to James who was seated in the first row and said, “She’s a political hack.”

This all comes after Trump was fined $10,000 for attacking Judge Engoron’s law clerk online. The former President is almost certainly not doing himself any favors with the Court given that Judge Engoron has already found Trump guilty of fraud and is using the trial phase to determine the financial penalty. 


State lawmakers in Wisconsin came together to support a bipartisan resolution that enshrined the brandy old fashioned as the official Wisconsin state cocktail

Just ask Jack… Election Edition

Our Jack O’Donnell joined Dave Greber and Kelsey Anderson of News 4 Buffalo for an Election Night debrief on the unprecedented win in the Erie County Executive race and the nail-biter for Cheektowaga Supervisor. Watch here.

Is it too early to declare a winner in the race for Cheektowaga Town Supervisor? Jack talks to reporter Patrick Ryan from News 4 Buffalo. Watch the top video here.

Jack joins the morning team at WBEN to size up the GOP presidential contenders after their latest debate and talk about the strong victory in the Erie County Executive race here.

Chelsea Lemon, Director of Government Affairs at The Business Council of New York State joins our Alec Lewis ‘From the Lobby with Jack O’Donnell’ to talk:

-NY’s business competitiveness compared to other states

-Opportunities to create jobs and grow the economy in NY

Megaphone icon

Client News

University at Buffalo

UB Gets Major Federal Grants for Cancer Treatment Research

Researchers at OD&A client, University at Buffalo have received $3.2 million to explore how cannabis use affects patients receiving immunotherapy, a rapidly advancing treatment that helps the immune system fight cancer. [Read more.]

How much confidence do you have in Congress to avoid a government shutdown?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Results of the Last Poll

Is it too early to play Christmas music on the radio?

This Day in History

November 13, 1789: Benjamin Franklin writes "Nothing . . . certain but death & taxes." Did he say it first?


Worth a Read

National Toy Hall of Fame Reveals Four Inductees for 2023

It’s official! Four famous toys have been inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at OD&A client, The Strong National Museum of Play.