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‘The 6th borough’: How Westchester changed into a Democratic firewall in New York


The dichotomy in one of the most country’s wealthiest and biggest counties serves as a stark reminder that now not all suburbs are the similar: New York’s Westchester County has grow to be a Democratic firewall in recent times, boosting applicants operating for state administrative center and Congress and making it one of the crucial influential blue suburbs within the nation.

Even Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the pinnacle of the Democratic Congressional Marketing campaign Committee, gained Westchester via 20,000 votes — however nonetheless misplaced general via 2,300 votes after being overwhelmed in neighboring counties that went pink.

“Westchester is nearly turning into the 6th borough” of New York Town, mentioned Rob Astorino, its former two-term Republican county govt who has since ran unsuccessfully for state Senate and two times for governor. “It’s turning into an extension, in many ways, of Long island. It’s that extremely trained, prosperous white liberal that purchased homes at ungodly quantities of cash, sight unseen, all over the pandemic and thinks Republicans are the satan.”

Lengthy Island and Westchester — with a mixed 4 million other people throughout 3 counties — have lengthy been considered as battlegrounds for any candidate operating for the Area or statewide.

However Nassau and Suffolk were shading pink in fresh elections. Republicans fared smartly in native races closing 12 months, and this 12 months, all 4 Area seats went to Republicans — together with two that had been held via retiring Democratic Reps. Tom Suozzi and Kathleen Rice in Nassau County. The wins propelled the GOP to Area keep watch over.

Zeldin’s sturdy appearing on Lengthy Island, which he represents in Congress, made it the nearest governor’s race since 1994. He misplaced via just about 6 share issues to Hochul statewide, overpowered via her vast margins in New York Town, Westchester and, to a lesser extent, the massive upstate counties of Erie, Monroe, Onondaga and Albany. However even her win in her house county of Erie didn’t yield the margin she posted in Westchester.

Republican messaging at the prime price of dwelling and crime in New York Town resonated most powerful out east on Lengthy Island and north of town in Hudson Valley counties close to Westchester — similar to Rockland, Orange and Dutchess — the place Republicans gained two of 3 toss up Area races.

However Westchester? New York’s pink ripple took a detour across the county, whose 1 million citizens make it extra populous than seven states. All of its Democratic Area contributors gained, along side all of its state legislative applicants. Hochul gained the county via 67,000 votes.

When President Joe Biden stumped with Hochul two days prior to Election Day, he did so in Westchester — a bid to drum up fortify some of the get together’s base in a state with two times as many Democrats as Republicans.

“I feel we’ve been in a position to discover a stability between the some distance left and the reasonable left,” mentioned Westchester County Govt George Latimer, a former state lawmaker who knocked off Astorino in 2017 via 15 issues and now works with a county Legislature during which Democrats cling a fifteen to two edge. Many years in the past, Republicans ran county executive.

Most likely no a part of the rustic has observed a swing in citizens because of the Covid-19 pandemic greater than the New York Town space, converting the face of the citizens. The pandemic first of all led town citizens to escape to the suburbs — extra to the Hudson Valley than Lengthy Island — making it extra blue in some counties.

Over the last 3 years, Westchester added just about 12,000 Democrats to its energetic enrollment rolls, a 4 p.c leap. Within reach, Ulster County, house to Woodstock, added just about 6,000 new Democrats over the similar stretch, a 12 p.c building up. Ulster boosted the reelection of Democratic Rep. Pat Ryan, the previous county govt, as the one Democrat within the area to win his Area race.

Westchester — with a mean family source of revenue of $97,000, $20,000 greater than than nationwide reasonable — wasn’t all the time like this. In 1994, then-Sen. George Pataki beat Gov. Mario Cuomo there via 8,000 votes to drag off the beautiful disenchanted of the three-term governor. In Ulster, Pataki were given 68 p.c of the vote.

“It’s totally other. There was a turnover,” Latimer, who was once first elected 35 years in the past to the Rye Town Council, mentioned. “Lengthy-time citizens have packed up and moved to Florida, they usually’ve been changed via younger pros bobbing up out of town or other people transferring in for company assignments in Westchester or town — they usually carry a distinct mindset.”

Upload to that the county’s rising city spaces of Yonkers, White Plains and Mount Vernon, and Democrats up and down the price tag are much less prone to face stiff pageant in towns with sturdy get together machines. Transplants from Long island and Brooklyn have discovered Westchester interesting, resulting in a surge in new condo constructions to entice younger pros who’re nonetheless a couple of educate stops clear of town.

State Senate Majority Chief Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat from Yonkers, misplaced her first run for the chamber via 18 votes in 2004, then got here again and gained in 2006. She hasn’t had a detailed race since. In 2019, she changed into the primary Black individual and girl selected as majority chief.

“We’ve attempted to fulfill the folks the place they’re and providing answers to the problems they’re focused on,” she mentioned of a reasonable to innovative message that turns out to paintings within the county. “I’m happy with what we’ve been in a position to do.”

Nassau and Suffolk counties have grow to be extra numerous, in particular with a rising Hispanic inhabitants, and the similar has befell in Westchester. The counties, not like many of the state, have had inhabitants will increase during the last decade.

However Democrats’ enrollment edge on Lengthy Island is weaker than in Westchester, and reasonable Democrats to the east are much more likely to vote for Republicans, native officers mentioned.

Republicans spent closely within the New York Town marketplace on advertisements blasting Democrats for the upward thrust in crime in New York Town, the place many suburbanites paintings or incessantly discuss with. And it hit house on Lengthy Island.

“When the citizens as an entire is so poisoned via the spending that tars Democrats so negatively, it’s going to have penalties, and amongst them was once this,” mentioned state Democratic chair Jay Jacobs, who may be the Nassau County chair. “The place they discuss there was once no pink wave nationally, in positive portions of New York state, together with Lengthy Island, you probably did see it.”

George Santos, a Republican who gained Rice’s seat in Nassau County, mentioned the get together’s message resonated — regardless of the enrollment disadvantages.

“Lee Zeldin can be governor if we had now not suffered this type of huge exodus because of the oppressive one-party rule popping out of Albany,” he mentioned, regarding retirement-age New Yorkers migrating south greater than any state within the country.

In 2018, he famous, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo beat Republican challenger Marc Molinaro, who gained a Area seat this month, via 23 issues.

So for Hochul “to just beat Lee via 4 to five issues is a real remark that she isn’t being elected with a mandate,” Santos mentioned. “She was once elected as a result of she had the get together enrollment benefit.”




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