By Hank Russell
In 2020, the country seemed to tire of Donald Trump and decided to change leadership by electing a Democrat, former U.S. Senator and Vice President Joe Biden. Here on Long Island, Biden received 777,925 votes, compared to 707,969 for Trump, according to data from the New York State Board of Elections. In addition, voters decided to keep the U.S. House of Representatives “blue,” while keeping the Senate almost “blue” (the Senate is divided at 50 each between Democrats and Republicans, with Democrat Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote).
In New York State and Long Island, people were under the rule of a Democrat governor (Kathy Hochul) who replaced another Democrat governor (Andrew Cuomo) and two Democrat county executives (Steve Bellone in Suffolk and Laura Curran in Nassau).
When the Democrats took charge, they used their power to implement an agenda consisting of bail reform, “restorative justice” in schools, indoctrination in the classrooms and the boardrooms, replacing fossil fuels with “clean energy” and raising taxes to pay for their pet projects.
Soon after, it seemed to a majority of voters that the country was heading in the wrong direction. Crime on the streets and in the schools was on the rise. Career criminals were arrested, only to be let out the same day and free to commit more crimes. Parents who spoke out against what their children were being taught at school were arrested and physically assaulted. Lastly, inflation rose at a staggering rate as people were paying more to buy groceries, heat their homes and fill up at the gas station.
Last year, voters decided enough was enough. The result was a “red wave” on Long Island, in which both county Legislatures became GOP majorities; in Nassau, Curran was voted out and replaced by Bruce Blakeman. In Suffolk, Ray Tierney became the first Republican elected District Attorney since James Catterson in 199, unseating Democrat incumbent Tim Sini.
Michael D. Dawidziak, a political consultant and founder of Strategic Planning Systems, Inc., says a smaller “red wave” in the region began last year and is expected to continue this year. “There aren’t a lot of surprises this year,” he says, adding that he expects the GOP to pick up all four local Congressional seats. The tightest race, Dawidziak says, will be in the 1st Congressional District as Republican Nick LaLota and Democrat Bridget Fleming vie for Lee Zeldin’s vacant seat.
“The [election] districting maps were drawn up by a special master, so it’s making these races more competitive,” Dawidziak says.
As for Zeldin’s gubernatorial run against incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul, “If he wins, that would be a big surprise,” he says. (The most recent Trafalgar Group poll has Zeldin holding a slight lead over Hochul 48.4%-47.6%, with 4% undecided.)
Nationally, Dawidziak foresees GOP gains in Congress, but he says that is not unusual. “It’s very typical for a sitting president to take Congressional losses in their first midterm,” he says. “It happened to Bill Clinton, it happened to Barack Obama and it happened to Donald Trump.”
At the start of their campaigns, Democrat candidates used abortion as their main issue after the Supreme Court rendered its decision on the matter of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. “They thought [the abortion issue] would be a good driver [to attract voters],” Dawidziak says. “It wasn’t much of a driver as they thought it would be.”
Democrats recently started to move away from abortion, instead focusing on crime and the economy, which might spell trouble for the party come November 8, according to Dawidziak. “When you start to adopt your opponent’s playbook, that’s a problem.”