Republicans are outnumbered by Democrats in New York City by seven to one, but they outstripped Democratic turnout on Election Day in key areas to make gains across the city, part of the GOP wave that swept across other parts of the country on Tuesday.
Though it didn’t affect the outcome of the mayoral race with Curtis Sliwa taking home less than 30 percent compared to Eric Adams’s 66 percent, Republicans toppled Democrats in several working-class neighborhoods in the outer portions of Queens and Brooklyn. The GOP flipped two City Council seats in the boroughs and may yet gain a third by knocking off a Democratic incumbent and front-runner for council speaker. Republicans also defeated several Democratic-backed statewide ballot initiatives and made gains in the Long Island suburbs.
Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis, who represents the city’s Republican stronghold of Staten Island in Washington, believes voters are disappointed by Democratic leadership from Joe Biden on down and that it showed on Tuesday. “On every issue, the Democrats have been a disaster. From public safety being dismantled in New York to inflation and the cost of goods increasing because of their wasteful spending and policies that have disincentivized worker production,” Malliotakis said. “It’s just one thing after the other. They’re failing the American people.”
Brooklyn Republican Party chairman Ted Ghorra said his party there is gaining crossover votes from Democrats and independents due to their dissatisfaction with quality-of-life issues such as homelessness and crime. “I think people of New York City of many stripes are just fed up. They can’t take some of the insanity and the lack of common sense when addressing policies,” Ghorra said.
Republicans have been energized since last year and it carried into 2021, he said. “We are active. For example, last year we ran a candidate in every single congressional seat that touched Brooklyn in 2020. We have no state committee vacancies. We’ve become much more diverse, we’re much more active on the ground,” Ghorra said.
The Republican uprising is being acutely felt by Justin Brannan, a Democrat representing the 43rd district covering Bay Ridge and a top contender to be the next council speaker. He is currently trailing Republican John Fox by 255 votes with 98 percent of ballots counted. Brannan is banking on more than a thousand absentee ballots that have yet to be counted to deliver him victory. “We’ll need to wait for every vote to be counted but just like 2020, we’re confident there are enough absentee ballots to prevail once the count is complete,” Brannan tweeted on Wednesday morning.
A few miles away in the 48th district covering Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach, Democrats lost an open council seat. Republican Inna Vernikov won nearly 64 percent of the vote, a massive swing from 2017 when the incumbent Democrat, Chaim Deutsch, won with 61 percent. (Deutsch’s seat was open after he was expelled from the council after pleading guilty to tax evasion in April.)
In Queens, Republican Vickie Paladino also appears to have flipped an open seat in the Democratic-held 19th district, leading her Democratic challenger, the former state senator Tony Avella, 49.72 percent to 42.95 percent. The vacating incumbent, Democrat Paul Vallone, was term-limited and opted to run for civil court judge in Queens’ 3rd municipal district, but ultimately lost to his Republican challenger.
Over on Long Island, Republicans won two highly anticipated district-attorney races in Nassau and Suffolk counties — flipping the Nassau office held by a Democrat since 2006, according to the New York Times. The Republican wave extended statewide, where three ballot proposals supported by Democrats — that would’ve made changes to the state’s redistricting process and potentially open the door to same-day voter registration and no-excuse absentee ballots — were defeated. The Albany Times Union reported that the state Democratic Party didn’t spend any money to support the measures while they were being openly campaigned against by Republicans.
Malliotakis believes that Republicans are going into the midterm elections with “enormous strength” following their gains on Election Day and that she personally feels comfortable going into her own reelection next year, after taking the seat from Democrat Max Rose.
“The Democrats have overplayed their hands and they’re going to pay an enormous price in November of 2022,” she said.