New York Democrats, buoyed by recent results in the Hudson Valley and elsewhere, have spoken out on abortion rights, Donald Trump and the Jan. 6 inquiries ahead of the November election.
Whether it’s races for governor, Congress or the state legislature, Democratic candidates say these issues will energize their support base as Election Day approaches. Led by Governor Kathy Hochul, they have launched a slew of ads and press releases since Labor Day, the holiday that also marks the unofficial start of the campaign’s home stretch.
Analysts said the focus on abortion and Jan. 6/Trump is a smart strategy, intended to counter the Republican momentum that built up earlier in the year in the face of inflation and the crime.
“It will play well,” said Susan Del Percio, a Republican strategist based in New York, “because of their goal, which is to increase voter turnout in the midterm elections. The biggest problem for Democrats , right now, is to ensure strong turnout.The abortion issue is rallying Democrats, and it’s rallying independent Republican and center-right women and men.
Republicans argue that the recent surge of Democrats will not last until November.
“They are trying to scare New Yorkers. It’s just nonsense,” said GOP state chairman Nick Langworthy.
Meanwhile, Democrats are trying to hammer Republicans on issues they believe will sway voters their way.
Hochul released an ad on Tuesday criticizing Republican opponent Lee Zeldin for opposing abortion rights and for his association with Trump — including voting against certification of the 2020 presidential election just hours after the Trump loyalists stormed the US Capitol.
Statewide announcements are broadcast in English and Spanish.
It’s not just the governor’s race. For example, in the race for the Nassau County-based 3rd congressional district, Democrat Robert Zimmerman is touting the same issues — abortion, the Jan. 6 insurrection — against Republican George Santos.
And on a more local level, Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills) called for the repeal of abortion restrictions that are still in the municipal code of some Long Island municipalities. Kaplan takes on Republican Jack Martins in a key Senate battle.
“It galvanizes your base while dividing the other side,” said Bruce Gyroy, political strategist and former adviser to two governors, on Democratic themes. “Democratic enthusiasm has caught up with us. This is a big deal because historically Republicans have tended to do well in midterm elections. So it doesn’t surprise me that Hochul does it, Kaplan does it, Zimmerman does it.
Earlier this year, Republicans appeared to have all the momentum due to inflation and President Joe Biden’s low approval ratings.
But the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion rights case, began to change things. On August 2, voters in conservative Kansas overwhelmingly rejected a proposed amendment that would have removed state protections for abortion rights.
Also in August, Democrat Pat Ryan created a slight upset by defeating Republican Marcus Molinaro in a special election in New York’s Hudson Valley. Ryan has taken on the issue of abortion to elicit Democratic participation.
Moreover, the continuation of the Jan. 6 investigation into Trump’s business dealings and his removal of classified White House documents gave Democrats more food.
On Long Island, Zimmerman criticized Santos as extreme on abortion and Jan. 6. He pointed to earlier statements by Santos saying Trump was “at his peak” on Jan. 6 and a 2020 interview in which he said he would vote for an abortion ban if such a bill were introduced in the House. Congress.
“George Santos does not represent traditional voters in Queens and Nassau counties,” Zimmerman said, referring to the 3rd District.
A spokeswoman for Santos pointed to a statement released in June, just after the Supreme Court ruling, in which Santos said he was “pro-life” but would “never advocate for an absolute ban on abortion in New York or America”.
In an August interview with Newsday, Santos denounced attempts to label him an extremist and said, “There’s not an ounce of extremist in my body.”
Similarly, Hochul’s new ad calls Zeldin, a staunch Trump supporter, “extreme and dangerous” and features images of the Jan. 6 uprising.
Langworthy argued that Hochul was trying to distract voters “because she can’t run on her record.” Like other Republicans, Langworthy said immediate economic and inflation issues will be the main election drivers.
“They’re terrified that their base isn’t showing up,” Langworthy said of Democrats. “There’s a lot of campaigning to do here and if they think people are just going to tackle a few burning issues and that’s going to define the race, they’re dreaming.”