The candidates running on the Republican line swept the incumbent Democrats from power on Tuesday. Hartley Connett, Cathy Kay, Vic Golio and Sean Horsfield rode an unexpected surge in Republican goodwill to victory and secured a majority on the Village Board. The election ends two short years of Democratic control of Village Hall. Calling their candidates Republicans will anger certain Democrats and independents in the self-appointed Dobbs Ferry Party, but a quick look at the results shows that their candidates polled 53% of their totals on the Republican line. This is in stark contrast to past elections, especially those that were held before the move to November, in which the Dobbs Ferry Party line always carried the day – even when it got stuck at the bottom of the ballot.
So the big surprise of the night was that being a Republican in Westchester County is no longer an act of electoral suicide, in fact, it was an electoral boon [beware Janet Difiore]. Just one short year ago, running as a Republican meant certain defeat with registered Democrats outnumbering Republicans by 2:1 and Obama fever pushing the new voters to the polls. It also proves that national and state politics directly affect local elections in direct contradiction to the bi-partisan propaganda of the Dobbs Ferry Party.
Even Andy Spano, a Democrat, who had been County Executive since 1997 was unseated by a relative unknown, Bob Astorino, by a margin of 58% to 42%. Total surprise. [By the way, Kevin Plunkett, former Republican Village Attorney in Dobbs Ferry, has been appointed to lead his transition team and “decide who to keep and who not to”. ]
The causes of this Democrats defeat are clear in hindsight – though no one in the American media saw it coming. The incumbents must be punished for the sorry state of the economy and the world. No one is feeling good or flush or confident. We are still fighting two futile wars and Iran is building a bomb. There is a vague sense of unease as everyone – rich, poor and middle class – struggles to live the American dream, even while there is this nagging suspicion that the American dream is out-of-date in a world of constraints and global warming. Americans don’t like to be told to save more and spend less, especially while the government is bailing out the ‘too big to fail’ and layoffs spoil the fun of owning a small business. America is in a sorry state. The foreigners are trashing the dollar again. Buy gold.
The visceral distain that Bush and Cheney provoked is gone. The Democratic Party can no longer tap that deep vein of disgust. In hindsight, Bush/Cheney was a distorting lens that made the Democrats look great in contrast. With the W. fog lifted, suddenly the American public can see too clearly who is leading the country. Frankly they don’t like what they see, especially the independents and swing voters. The Democratic leadership is a bit odd and they don’t exude ‘character’. There is not a normal, run-of-the-mill, High School football coach type in the bunch. Nancy Polosi, though attractive and well-coiffed, annoys every pixel on your high definition TV screen . Barney Frank acts weird and speaks funny. Harry Reid resembles a country gentleman, not the leader of the most powerful legislative body on earth. Hilary Clinton can’t control her emotions and never was particularly charismatic, while Chuck Schumer is over exposed and too obviously craving a sound byte. Barack Hussein Obama can’t carry the whole show.
At the Village level, the Republicans were able to tap into this discontent. The Democratic incumbents, though competent and hard working, were blamed for not being able to clean up the mess that they inherited. Though they toiled to fix Village Hall and bring taxes under control, they also contributed to the sense of unease. They canceled the fireworks, mismanaged the budget process (not the budget result), didn’t fill police and sanitation jobs to save money while hiring librarians, talked of sharing services with other villages, refused to give the School District salt (because it isn’t fair to the 19% in the Ardsley School District), suggested arbitrary garbage fees, hired consultants to clean up administrative and legal messes and invested too much time on marginal environment issues like leaf blower bans, greenways and deer culling.