Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

GOP-led Senate, Cuomo victory

Albany — Sportsmen and gun owners in New York state hoping for a political miracle – an upset win by Rob Astorino over Gov. Andrew Cuomo – saw those hopes fade under an avalanche of votes from the New York City metropolitan area.

But while Cuomo rode his popularity in the city to a second four-year term, the state’s sportsmen saw Republicans take control of the state Senate by picking up enough seats to attain a majority.

It was seen as a welcome consolation prize by many hunters and gun owners.

A Republican-led state Senate in recent years has served as a roadblock to a number of anti-gun proposals that emerged in the state Assembly, where Democrats carry a solid majority.

“It’s pretty clear why Senate control went back to the Republicans,” said SCOPE (Shooters Committee on Political Education)-New York President Stephen Aldstadt. “The three races we targeted all involved first-term Democrats, all of whom voted for the SAFE Act. And they all lost.”

The January 2013 passage of the SAFE Act gun legislation galvanized sportsmen and gun owners in New York, sparking rallies, protests and voter registration drives ahead of the Nov. 4 election. That bitter opposition to the legislation never waned as they targeted lawmakers who voted in favor of the act.

And it was generally viewed as a major factor in the defeat of Democratic Sen. Ted O’Brien in Rochester’s 55th District; Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk in the 46th District outside Albany; and Democrat Terry Gipson in the 41st District in the Poughkeepsie area.

O’Brien was ousted by Republican challenger Richard Funke, while Republican Sue Serino defeated Gipson. Republican George Amedore, a former state assemblyman who lost the Senate race to Tkaczyk by 18 votes in a 2012 race that wasn’t decided until Amedore had actually been seated for three weeks as a senator, handily defeated Tkaczyk this time around.

Another apparent victim of his SAFE Act vote was Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti. Grisanti lost the GOP primary to challenger Kevin Stocker but ran as an independent in an effort to retain his seat. He lost the general election to Democrat Marc Panepinto in the 60th District in Buffalo.

Grisanti serves as chairman of the Senate’s environmental conservation committee.

On the Assembly side, Assemblyman Al Stirpe, who voted for the SAFE Act, turned back a challenge from Republican Rob DeMarco to earn a fourth term in the 127th District (Onondaga County). Stirpe polled 53 percent of the vote.

Republican challenger John Byrne III has apparently unseated Democratic Assemblywoman Addie Russell in the North County’s 116th District. Russell was a supporter of the SAFE Act.

Still, many sportsmen were disappointed their efforts to unseat Cuomo fell well short. Major news organizations declared Cuomo the winner just minutes after the polls closed across the state at 9 p.m.

Aldstadt had been hopeful heading into the election, saying the governor’s race “is going to be a lot tighter than people thing.”

It wasn’t. Cuomo earned a second four-year term on the strength of heavy vote totals in the New York City area and other major population centers in the state, even though voter turnout was low and he received about a million fewer votes than he did in 2010.

While the low voter turnout was a statewide issue, Aldstadt said he was hopeful a huge turnout of upstate sportsmen and gun owners would carry Astorino, the Westchester County executive and underfunded underdog, to a stunning upset.

“The votes are potentially there,” Aldstadt said. “All they had to go is get out and vote.”

Cuomo outpolled Astorino statewide by about 476,000 votes – 1.9 million to 1.44 million. The bulk – nearly all – of that came in three New York city districts – Queens, Kings and New York counties.

Cuomo held a 180,000-vote edge in Kings County, a 161,000-vote margin in New York County, and a 122,000-vote gap in Queens County. He also topped Astorino by 99,000 votes in the Bronx.

Cuomo also won in Erie, Onondaga, Broome, Tompkins and Albany counties, as well as, somewhat surprisingly, three North County counties (Clinton, Essex and Franklin).

Astorino, meanwhile, fared well across most of upstate New York, notably in the more rural counties. He actually topped Cuomo in most counties of the state, including Suffolk, Orange and Putnam counties.

But it wasn’t nearly enough to offset Cuomo’s landslide margins in New York City.

Aldstadt said the vote totals and the election map, showing a wave of red where Astorino topped Cuomo across most of upstate New York, shows the magnitude of the cultural divide between the New York City metro area and upstate New York.

“And the divide is getting wider,” he said. “One of the problems is over the last four years about 400,000 people have left the state, and those people tend to be our kind of voter. They’re fed up with liberal politics.”

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