New York’s primary, with races for governor and attorney general, and seven other elections in the U.S. tomorrow mark the end of major-state campaigns before November’s general vote, when 37 governorships are at stake.
New York, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia will choose local, state and congressional candidates for the Nov. 2 election. Only a primary in Hawaii on Sept. 18 and an Oct. 2 runoff in Louisiana for a House of Representatives seat remain.
Republican turnout in primaries so far has exceeded that of Democrats, according to the Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University in Washington. It’s the first such result in a non-presidential election year since 1930 and bodes well for Republicans, the center said.
Democrats will defend 19 governorships in November while Republicans try to maintain 18, according to Congressional Quarterly, which covers politics. Democrats now hold 26 of the 50 statehouses and Republicans have 23. An independent leads Florida.
In New York, the third-most-populous state, the Republican primary for governor pits Carl Paladino, 64, a Buffalo real estate developer and Tea Party favorite, against Rick Lazio, 52, a former four-term congressman from Long Island. The winner meets Democrat state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, 52, in November.
Vacant Wisconsin Seat
The Wisconsin governor’s primary has two Democrats, including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, and three Republicans, including Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, vying to succeed Democrat Jim Doyle, who’s not seeking a third term.
In Maryland, two Republicans, including former Governor Robert Ehrlich Jr., seek the chance to meet one of three Democrats, including former Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley. Massachusetts has no governor’s primary. In November, Democratic incumbent Deval Patrick will face Republican insurance executive Charlie Baker and Treasurer Tim Cahill, a former Democrat running as an independent.
New York’s eventual governor must cope with a Feb. 1 deadline to submit a budget for next fiscal year that closes an $8.2 billion projected deficit. Wrangling between the Legislature and current Governor David Paterson over a $9.2 billion gap delayed this year’s $133.8 billion budget by four months from the April 1 start of the fiscal period.
Level of Service
“People are upset about taxes and spending in New York, but when you ask them, ‘Do you want to cut back on school spending, do you cut back on roads?’ the answer is ‘no, no, no,’” said Jeffrey Stonecash, a professor of politics at Syracuse University. “They have gotten used to a certain level of services.”
Paladino uses the slogan “We’re Mad as Hell” to protest New York’s claim to having the highest combined state and local taxes in the U.S. after Alaska. He would let government close, except for public safety and health, if lawmakers don’t agree to cut spending by 20 percent and taxes by 10 percent in his first year.
Lazio wants to control spending and still make investments in education and infrastructure. He favors a cap on property taxes imposed by local governments.
A Siena College Research Institute survey released Sept. 11 showed the two in a virtual tie, with Lazio leading Paladino 43 percent to 42 percent. Paladino trailed Lazio by 13 points in an Aug. 18 Siena poll.
Whichever Republican wins, polls show they trail Cuomo, whose campaign promises spending cuts and a property-tax cap. Cuomo led Lazio by 32 percentage points and Paladino by 37 points in an August Quinnipiac University survey.
In his four years as attorney general, the son of former Governor Mario Cuomo pursued Wall Street abuses. He joined other states to push banks including New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. to settle claims they improperly sold auction-rate bonds. He also got student-loan sellers such as Reston, Virginia-based SLM Corp. to stop paying schools for referrals.
With no Democratic primary for governor, Cuomo has $23.6 million of unspent campaign funds for November, according to Board of Election reports. Lazio has $502,000, the elections board said.
Paladino spent about $3 million in the primary, said his campaign manager, Michael Caputo. He may use $10 million of the $150 million of personal wealth he lists on his website, plus money from supporters, to become governor, Caputo said.
“To beat Andrew Cuomo is going to cost upwards of $30 million,” he said.
In the race for state attorney general, five candidates are in competition to run against Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, the Republican nominee.
The candidates are Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, 45, who has called for stricter laws against sexual predators on the Internet; Westchester Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, 64, who challenged the financing of the new Yankee Stadium; former state Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo, 47, of Manhattan; Sean Coffey, 54, a former federal prosecutor and private securities-fraud litigator, and Manhattan state Senator Eric Schneiderman, 55, a leader in repealing mandatory prison terms for drug offenders enacted under former Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller.
In primaries through Aug. 28, Republican turnout exceeded Democrats by more than 4 million, the Center for the Study of the American Electorate said. The portion of eligible Republicans who voted averaged 10.5 percent versus 8.3 percent for Democrats.
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