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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

State Elections 2020

High turnout central to wins in state elections

Photo: Michelle Keller-Ng, Retiree, Local 375 and Voluntary Member Organizer

After Election Day it seemed that Democrats were slated to lose at least two seats in the New York State Senate, thus preventing them from gaining a supermajority and imperiling vital legislation. Then the absentee ballots began to be counted in earnest.

During the next three weeks, several Democratic senators who were behind after Election Day began to close their gaps and then take the lead, eventually winning their races.

This year, as a consequence of the dangers of in-person voting during the COVID-19 pandemic, around 2.5 million New York voters requested an absentee or military ballot, five times as many as those who did for the 2016 election.

By the Nov. 3 election, 1.4 million absentee ballots were completed and returned. Combined with massive early-voting turnout, they proved key in turning the tide during the long, arduous vote-counting process post-election.

After winning seats in upstate and holding off a Republican surge on Long Island, state Senate Democrats won a supermajority.

This will be critical in the next legislative session when important bills are on the table, particularly those that will allow for an early retirement plan for New York City public workers who were on the frontlines in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other legislation, such as a stock transfer tax and a billionaires’ tax, are now possible with supermajorities in the Albany legislature.

“With a Democratic supermajority, we can continue to make real, progressive change and improve New Yorkers’ lives,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

Union-endorsed candidates did well, despite some losses.

For the U.S. Congress, Jackie Gordon conceded her race for Long Island’s Second District, losing narrowly to Republican Andrew Garbarino. This seat was formerly held by the GOP’s Peter King.

Incumbent Democrat Max Rose was defeated in his race for re-election for his Congressional seat, based in Staten Island and Brooklyn, a pickup for the Republicans.

Jamaal Bowman, however, won his seat in the 16th District covering the Bronx. Bowman, an educator, who defeated long-time incumbent Eliot Engel in the primary, is a progressive who intends to push pro-labor and needed police and health reforms as his agenda.

“That is our mandate from the American people,” he said.

The union was successful in several state Assembly elections as well. Khaleel Anderson, Jessica González-Rojas, Amanda Septimo, and Jenifer Rajkumar were all victorious. Unfortunately, Brandon Patterson was defeated in his bid for the Assembly in Staten Island’s 64th District.

DC 37-endorsed Michelle Hinchey’s win in the state Senate was key in getting the Senate Democrats their supermajority, winning a GOP seat in the Hudson Valley and Capitol District Region.

“We are happy to see our incumbents win and look forward to working with all our legislative members in the upcoming session,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido.