Election 2018: What to watch in New York state
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Some of the hottest congressional races in the country will be decided in New York on Tuesday, including one featuring an indicted incumbent, while voters also decide whether Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo deserves a third term.
Turnout is expected to be high with voters eager to weigh in on the nation’s divided politics.
Here’s a look at what to watch:
CONGRESS: A handful of contentious races — mostly upstate — could help decide whether the Democrats wrest control of the U.S. House from Republicans.
In western New York, Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Collins had been considered a safe bet for re-election before federal authorities charged him with insider trading. Collins, who has pleaded not guilty and called the charges meritless, initially suspended his campaign for a fourth term. But then he reversed course and got back in the race, confounding local Republican leaders who had been working to replace his name on the ballot.
Democratic challenger Nate McMurray, the Grand Island town supervisor, reported a flood of contributions following Collins’ indictment. That support could be critical if Democrats hope to win the district, where Donald Trump thumped Hillary Clinton by 24 percentage points — his largest margin in the state. Polls show the race is close.
In the Hudson Valley, freshmen GOP Congressman John Faso is looking to defend his seat against Democrat Antonio Delgado in a swing district that supported Trump in 2016 but Democrat Barack Obama four years earlier. An ad released last month by the Republican National Congressional Committee showed clips of Delgado performing songs from his 2006 rap album. Delgado, a Rhodes scholar and Harvard Law School graduate, said it was a racially motivated attack on a black candidate in a district that is more than 90 percent white.
In central New York, first-term Republican U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney is locked in a tight battle with Democrat Anthony Brindisi, a state lawmaker. Tenney’s brash rhetoric has drawn comparisons to Trump and turned off many in her own party: She claimed without evidence that “so many” mass murderers are Democrats and urged people to sign a petition seeking the imprisonment of Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey.
Tenney was an early Trump backer and says that while she sometimes disagrees with the president her working relationship with the administration helps her advocate for voters in her district, which includes rolling dairy farms and the cities of Utica and Binghamton. The race is considered a tossup.
Other races to watch include one on Staten Island, where Army veteran Max Rose, a Democrat, hopes to oust U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan, the only Republican House member from New York City. And in Queens and the Bronx, Republican Anthony Pappas is looking to beat the odds and defeat Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who scored a huge upset over U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley earlier this year.
On the Senate side, Democratic New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is heavily favored over Republican Chele Farley.
GOVERNOR’S RACE: Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is seeking a third term as the leader of the nation’s fourth-largest state — a distinction that would put him in the company of former governors DeWitt Clinton, Al Smith, Nelson Rockefeller, George Pataki and his own father, the late Mario Cuomo.
He faces Republican Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, as well as Libertarian Larry Sharpe, Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins and independent Stephanie Miner. Polls show Cuomo is far ahead in the race, and he has a commanding financial advantage.
Cuomo has sought to make the race about Trump, mocking Molinaro as a “Trump Mini-Me” and saying he is the best candidate to protect the state from any efforts to eliminate protections for immigrants, abortion rights or the environment. Considered a possible White House contender, Cuomo has said he will serve a full four years if re-elected.
Though polls show the race has tightened, Cuomo maintains a commanding lead.
ATTORNEY GENERAL: The job of the state’s top law enforcement official has increasingly focused on Trump, too, with incumbent Attorney General Barbara Underwood and her predecessor, disgraced Democrat Eric Schneiderman, launching investigations into the president and his business dealings and filing lawsuits seeking to block the administration’s policy moves.
Democrat Tish James, the New York City public advocate, faces Republican attorney Keith Wofford in the race. Underwood is not running for a full term after replacing Schneiderman, who resigned earlier this year after he was accused of assaulting four women he dated. He has denied the charges.
No matter who wins, the victor will make history as the state’s first black attorney general. They’ve sparred over the attorney general’s role in fighting Trump, with James arguing for an aggressive response to the White House, while Wofford says he would only pursue cases that clearly benefit the state or residents.
In another statewide race, Democratic state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli faces Republican Jonathan Trichter. DiNapoli has served as comptroller since 2007. The office performs government audits, reviews state finances and manages the $207 billion state pension fund.
STATE SENATE: All 213 seats in the state Legislature are up for election, but the attention is on the 63 seats in the state Senate, now the last bastion of Republican control in Albany.
Democrats need to only pick up a few seats in order to win the chamber. They already hold a huge majority in the state Assembly and occupy the governor’s office. Adding the Senate to that list would potentially ease the way for liberal priorities, such as codifying abortion rights in state law, legalizing marijuana and loosening the statute of limitations on molestation to make it easier for victims to sue their alleged abusers.