Wednesday, November 7, 2012


The scene last night at Democratic HQ at the Hyatt, just after it was announced
Louise Slaughter will return to Washington representing voters of Monroe County.
photo: Bess Watts
By Ove Overmyer
Nov. 7, 2012

Rochester, N.Y. -- When the state of Ohio finally went blue for Democrat Barack Obama on election night, the raucous crowd at the downtown Rochester Hyatt Hotel ballroom went ballistic. The president finally cleared the 270-electoral vote hurdle to win his second four-year term. Shouts of joy and tears flowed like it was 2008 all over again. In other national outcomes, the House of Representatives will remain in Republican hands, and the Senate will keep its Democratic majority.

And, despite all the extreme rhetoric in a very nasty political year where over 6 billion dollars were spent that yielded status-quo results, President Obama was eventually elected by a large margin consisting primarily of young people, Hispanics, blacks and women "micro-targeted" by his effective get out the vote effort in battleground states. The labor community was very instrumental in getting out the vote despite voter suppression efforts in key battleground states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. And closer to home, Monroe County BOE officials estimated by 8 pm on Tuesday, 72 percent of voters already cast their ballots. Officials were expecting voter turnout to reach 80 percent. 

Across the country, 65,600 AFSCME public service workers and CSEA pulled together with family, coworkers, neighbors and community allies to ensure victory in Election 2012 for President Barack Obama and candidates who will support America’s working families in Congress and state and local offices. It didn’t matter if the candidates were Democrat or Republican. It wasn’t about left versus right. It was about right versus wrong.

 “This is a good day for the middle class, the Main Street movement and the American Dream,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders.

Perhaps no race more clearly demonstrates the commitment of voters to uphold the values of Main Street than Elizabeth Warren’s victory in Massachusetts, winning the seat held for decades by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. From the beginning, Warren offered a full-throated embrace of Main Street’s fight to curb Wall Street’s power – and the active role that government has to play in the struggle. Other huge wins in the Senate included Chris Murphy in Connecticut, Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Tim Kaine in Virginia and Sherrod Brown in Ohio.

While some votes are still being tallied and a number of important races have yet to be called, this year’s election results are a declaration by the American people that they are standing up for working families, children, seniors and the most vulnerable of our country.

Despite nefarious attacks against the very right to vote, Americans chose Medicare over giving tax breaks to millionaires.  Voters rejected politicians who tried to strip away civil rights, their jobs and their promised benefits.

Throughout the campaign, CSEA and AFSCME volunteers knocked on doors, made 1.1 million phone calls and made 4,400 worksite visits. We worked in coalition with other labor unions and our community allies – an approach refined in our defeat of Senate Bill 5 in Ohio last year – to amplify the strength of our numbers. It was workers’ solidarity and it worked. AFSCME members delivered a victory for working families at every level of government last night.

The labor movement played a key role in defining Mitt Romney from day one.  In January, AFSCME’s “Greed” ad highlighted his dangerous work as a vulture capitalist, not a job creator, as a principal with Bain Capital. Later in the campaign, our “Meet Richard” video featuring Mitt Romney’s garbage collector became one of the most-watched videos of the entire election season, keeping the pressure on Romney for his comments dismissing 47 percent of Americans.

In Wisconsin, citizens voted to return President Obama and Vice President Biden – champions of working people – to office. They sent Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate.

Baldwin, an out lesbian Democratic House member from Wisconsin, made history by winning election as the first out LGBT member of the Senate. Wisconsinites ousted union-busting and voter’s nixed right-to-work promoting legislators in Indiana. The labor community was outspent 15 to 1 and still working class champions prevailed at the ballot box.

CSEA Labor Candidates Maloney, Slaughter and Maffei Win Seats in Congress

Rep. Louise Slaughter
In the Hudson Valley’s 18th congressional district in New York, Democratic challenger Sean Patrick Maloney, an out gay attorney, defeated freshman Republican Nan Hayworth, becoming our state’s first LGBT representative in Washington. Maloney’s victory in New York was matched in Wisconsin, where out gay State Representative Mark Pocan, a Democrat, has won Baldwin’s current House seat.

Incumbent Democrat Louise Slaughter defeated Republican challenger Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks in the race for the 25th Congressional District, according to unofficial results from the Monroe County Board of Elections.

Buffalo area Rep. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat swept into office last year largely because of her support for Medicare, was defeated in her push for a full term. Millionaire Chris Collins, an extreme anti-labor Tea Party candidate and the former Erie County executive, was leading Hochul 51 percent to 49 percent, CNN reported, with 97 percent of precincts reporting at last count.

Hochul was elected in a May 2011 special election with the help of organized labor, and saw the already conservative western New York district turned even redder in the recent redistricting process. 

In one of the sweetest moments for the labor community and Democrats last night was the victory of Central New York former legislator Dan Maffei. Maffei is declaring victory in the 24th Congressional District, even though U.S. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, R-Onondaga Hill hasn't conceded — yet.

"I am honored that the people of central New York have elected me to represent them in Congress. We have won an important victory for central New York's middle class," Maffei said in a prepared statement released to major media outlets. "I am looking forward to working to fix our economy, create jobs, and rebuild our middle class. I would like to thank the voters, and all of our supporters who invested their time and energy in our campaign. This victory belongs to them."

Meanwhile, Buerkle is waiting for all the votes to be counted. She said she will let the "democratic process to run its course."

Local Democrats Wallop GOP

The race for the 25th Congressional District attracted a lot of national attention and a lot of soft money, including a last-minute, $1.3 million ad-buy from a Karl Rove-connected group for Tea Party darling Maggie Brooks.

In a Wednesday morning email to supporters after the election, Slaughter said, “We beat back Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers and all the money they poured into trying to buy this seat. We were victorious!”

She added, “This election was never about me, it was never about my opponent, it was about the future of our families. We were able to stand strong and make sure that New York has a constant advocate who will fight for our middle class families.”

Slaughter added, “We have built a strong grassroots organization that we can be proud of. Despite being the target of millions from Karl Rove and the Koch brothers we were able to fight back and we were able to win.”

The race went negative early, with Slaughter's camp firing back at vicious attacks by Brooks’ surrogates. Brooks' supporters were particularly nasty, taking digs at Slaughter's age — she's 83 — and appearance.
Slaughter returns for a 14th term in Congress, while Brooks has three years left as county executive before term limits kick in.

Bronson Breezes to Victory

Bronson on Election Night
photo: Bess Watts
Incumbent Rochester Democrat Harry Bronson, who was first elected to the New York State Assembly in 2010 as the first openly gay upstate legislator, had a solid victory over his Republican challenger Peterson Vazquez. Bronson received 63 percent of the vote, while Vazquez received 37 percent.

In his acceptance speech to a packed house at the Hyatt Ballroom in downtown Rochester, Bronson thanked his family, the labor community and all of his supporters.

He said, “Thank you to the working families of the 138th District. You have allowed me into your homes so I could listen and learn from you—so you could add your voice to help make the Empire State the best it can be. Your trust in me is a privilege I do not take lightly.”

Mark Johns, a retired CSEA member who was running to keep his Assembly seat, beat former Assemblyman David Koon by a narrow two point margin for the second time.

NYS Senate Dems Win Alesi Seat

Ted O'Brien (at right) Wins NY Senate 55th District Race.
photo: Bess Watts
In what may have been the most expensive New York State Senatorial campaign in history, CSEA backed Democrat Ted O'Brien won the race for the state Senate's 55th District seat. O'Brien and Republican Sean Hanna were running for the open seat that was previously held by Republican Jim Alesi, who decided not to seek reelection.

The race was a contentious one and from the early stages of the campaign. O'Brien was the target of untruthful and unrelenting attack ads from an anonymous group, but voters evidently dismissed those tactics with disdain.

The race drew statewide interest because it has implications for which party controls the state Senate. That question isn't settled yet, but O'Brien's victory does flip a Republican seat to a Democratic seat.

O'Brien received approximately 64,800 votes to the approximately 59,900 votes Hanna received, according to unofficial results from the Monroe County Board of Elections and the Ontario County Board of Elections.

Monroe County Legislature Sees Red

Despite all the positives for Democrats this election year, at the local level Republicans in the County Legislature increased their majority by one member on election night. Irondequoit foot doctor Joe Carbone unseated RIT professor Stephanie Aldersley, the Democrat who was appointed to a vacant seat earlier this year.

The race was very close, which did not come as a surprise since Carbone narrowly lost to Democrat Vinnie Esposito, who held the seat before Aldersley, in the 2011 elections. Esposito resigned this year to take a job with the state.

Aldersley served 10 years in the Legislature prior to Esposito’s tenure.

Carbone’s victory brings the Republican majority one vote closer to a two-thirds majority. That’s important in terms of county borrowing, which requires support from two-thirds of the legislators, or 20 out of 29 votes. When Carbone takes office the Republican majority will have 19 of the 29 seats in the legislature.

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