- Well, I know I disappeared for the last 48 hours or so, but I have to say that I'm pretty much speechless about what transpired on Election Day. You've heard and read a lot I know about the "historic" nature of the result, and you've heard many say that they never thought they'd live to see the day. But sometimes things just bear repeating, even if over and over and over again. Readers as old as I know how far the country has come in this respect. And it wasn't long ago at all here in New York City, going back just a relative handful of years ago when the hateful and divisive Rudy Giuliani was mayor, that racial tension in this city was quite palpable. I've always thought that things changed profoundly here after 9/11. In the days and weeks following, everyone here was the same color - whichever one it is that denotes we were all scared out of our minds, yellow I guess. I've had the sense that such a feeling of unity has carried over the ensuing seven years. And I've wondered if that is the case nationally as well, and if the events of that terrifying day have helped to lead us here.
Of course, when elections are settled, questions are inevitably raised, not only with respect to how well a first-year Senator from Illinois will fare as President in these challenging (to say the least) times, but in two matters I've been following here.
As you probably know by now, Democrats in New York State have indeed achieved what is at least a numerical majority in the State Senate, holding on to all of its seats, and gaining the two which were needed for a clear majority. You can see all of the results here, towards the bottom. The Democrats' margin is currently 32-30, though one seat will remain contested for a while longer; in SD-11 in Queens, incumbent Republican Senator Frank Padavan leads Democrat James Gennaro by less than 1%, a result which is subject to a recount.
A couple of observations here: The Siena College polls, which were conducted on local races for the first time, proved to be remarkably accurate for the most part, despite the usual objections by those whose prospects it did not favor. It correctly surmised the comeback by William Stachowski, who retained his seat for the Dems in SD-58 up in Buffalo; as well as the decisive margin of victory for Democratic challenger Brian Foley over longtime incumbent Caesar Trunzo in SD-3 on Long Island. In the GOP's other lost seat, the one formerly held by Senator Serph Maltese in SD-15, the district here in Queens which includes Aqueduct, the poll at least had the trend right, if not the easy win by Joseph Addabbo Jr.
I'm wondering just where the Republicans were down the stretch in that crucial race. The Democrats threw everything they had at it, with the good help of the Working Families Party, said to have knocked on 120,000 doors in the district. They produced robocalls by each of the Clintons, and by the popular governor. I wrote the other day about how I saw Addabbo signs all over the place when I went to the Big A on Saturday, without a Maltese poster in sight. And the best the Republicans could do was a robocall by Mayor Bloomberg? After all, Bloomberg is hardly the most popular guy in town after his term limits coup. And less so today after taking $400 out of homeowners' pockets, including yours truly. I'd just contacted the city last week, and was assured the checks would be sent out shortly. In fact, the Mayor did not have a very good day on Tuesday, so maybe he's taking it out on the rest of us.
But the matter of who will actually be in control of the Senate next year is, believe it or not, still up in the air after all of this, due to a group of four city Democrats who are playing hard to get. Funny, with all the Republican talk about the danger of downstate Democrats having too much influence, it's these four gentleman representing parts of the city - Pedro Espada Jr. and Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx, Carl Kruger of Brooklyn and Hiram Monserrate of Queens - who may help them actually maintain control. The group met with GOP leaders on Wednesday, [well, no they did not. That story, reported in the AP story linked to below, has now been discredited] holding out the hope for the Republicans that one or more may actually switch sides, or at least support Skelos as leader. However, the AP reports that Governor Paterson has met with, and struck a deal with the group which would preserve the Democratic majority for at least a year under [Majority Leader to be Malcolm] Smith. So stay tuned here.
Maryland voters may have soundly passed the referendum to allow slots. But exactly where five slots parlors will be located, and by whom they will be operated by, remains to be seen.
Potential bidders for the five sites authorized by voters face an aggressive Feb. 1 deadline to pull together proposals, and no one knows how many will come forward. [Washington Post]Also unknown is what Magna will decide to do about Laurel. The company announced that it “expects to pursue a [slot-machine] license for Laurel Park as soon as practicable.” However, where exactly they would get the more than $200 million it would be required to invest is certainly up in the air. And a sale of the track remains a distinct possibility.
In any event and no matter who gets the licenses, the racing industry in the state expects relief; some $100 million in annual purse subsidies, plus $40 million a year for capital expenditures at the tracks. No money will flow however until the slots are in place, at least 18 months away.