Democrats take State Senate + Reactions to Amazon

Elections:

  • As many as 40 Democrats were elected to the State Senate on Tuesday, decisively flipping the body to have its largest Democratic majority since 1912. Some highlights from this wave included a decimation of Long Island Republicans, Andrew Gounardes’ apparent defeat of Marty Golden in Southern Brooklyn (Golden has yet to concede), and other victories in the Hudson Valley.

  • With Tuesday’s results, a progressive agenda has a more clear path forward and could include major reforms to the State’s rent laws, healthcare, energy, criminal justice system, voting apparatus, and more. However, Governor Cuomo could quickly pivot to pressure some newly-elected Democratic Senators, several of whom he campaigned for, to fall in line with his moderate policy priorities.

  • All three ballot initiatives in NYC – to lower the amount of campaign finance contributions one candidate can receive, to establish a Civic Engagement Commission, and to impose term limits on community board members – passed with wide margins.

  • With Tish James’ historic victory in the Attorney General race, New York City is now guaranteed a special election for her Public Advocate seat in early 2019. City Council Member Jumaane Williams (District 45, Flatbush), seen as a frontrunner thanks to his Lieutenant Governor campaign from earlier this year, announced the endorsement of 12 NYC elected officials including Council Member Antonio Reynoso (District 34, Williamsburg), who had previously been considered as a potential candidate.

  • Twelve candidates endorsed by national DSA won their elections on Tuesday, including New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Queens) and Julia Salazar (Bushwick).

  • New York State had its highest midterm voter turnout since 1994, with about 45% of registered voters casting votes. In the governor’s race, about 2 million more votes were cast this year than in 2014. Almost all of that increase, though, went to the Democratic or Republican ballot lines; the share of the vote captured by third or fusion parties fell from 20% in 2014 to just 12% this year, as both the Reform Party and the Women’s Equality Party failed to gain enough support to stay on the ballot. On the other hand, the Libertarian Party received the requisite 50,000 for the first time in New York, as did the Serve America Movement, a new centrist party helmed by former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner.

Local News:

  • On the evening before election day, news broke that Amazon may be planning to locate half of its new headquarters in Long Island City, apparently the result of backroom deals with Cuomo.

  • Amazon has not formally announced their relocation plan, however, and questions are circulating about the potential funding mechanism and its effects on the area’s housing and transportation infrastructure. Local elected officials are already sounding alarm about the undisclosed tax breaks Amazon would receive, and the possibility that the project will circumvent City Council involvement.

  • Dramatic expansion of rent regulations is on the agenda for 2019 thanks to last week’s Democratic victories in the State Senate. The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) is scrambling to build alliances with moderate Democrats to fight against this push. This Thursday, a broad coalition of advocates, including NYC-DSA, will hold a rally in Manhattan to kick off what will likely be a sustained wave of housing activism in the lead up to the renewal of New York State’s rent laws in 2019.

  • Several of Tuesday’s winners in the State Senate publicly oppose charter school expansion, in step with Cuomo’s recent softening of support for charters, signaling that tighter restrictions and regulations are likely to come.

  • A cooperatively-owned solar project is being launched in Sunset Park on the 80,000 square foot roof of the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

  • Joe Lhota abruptly resigned from his position as chairman of the MTA after previously promising to serve out his term until 2021, raising further alarm about the condition of the MTA’s management and finances.

  • The City Council is preparing to unveil a major piece of legislation to reduce carbon emissions from as many as 50,000 large buildings in NYC.

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