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GOP Gains Ground in 'Blue' New York, Connecticut

Image: GOP Gains Ground in 'Blue' New York, Connecticut Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

Friday, 08 Nov 2013 11:05 AM

By John Gizzi

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Although much attention was focused on the elections on Tuesday of decidedly left-of-center Democrats in Boston  and New York City, little reported was the major gain of Republicans in two Northeastern states long considered "no man's land" for the GOP. Republicans took considerable new ground in contests for city halls and county offices in New York and Connecticut.

In New York, Republicans re-elected county executives in Westchester and Nassau Counties, captured the mayoralty in Binghamton and a majority of the county legislature in Erie County for the first time since 1977, and won a special election for the state Assembly in Suffolk County.

The common denominator of winning Republicans in the Empire State was opposition to taxes and championship of small government.

"Tonight's results prove that the taxpayers' revolt that started back in 2009 is still going strong," state Republican Chairman Ed Cox told reporters; "And if Republicans are winning in Erie and Westchester, [Democratic Gov. Andrew] Cuomo should start getting worried."

In a state where Democrats hold all statewide offices and have a hefty majority in the state Assembly, Cuomo has long been considered a cinch for re-election in 2014 and is reportedly eyeing a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

But the governor has also come under strong fire for raising taxes after vowing he would not do so, for his opposition to fracking, and for signing gun control legislation.

Now, with their talent banks replenished by the elections Tuesday, once-despondent Republicans are beginning to have second thoughts about waging a full-blown offensive against Cuomo next year.

Re-elected in a county where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 2-to-1, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will be under fresh pressure to run for governor next year.

An award-winning former radio personality, Astorino is considered one of his party's brightest stars in New York and, sources told Newsmax, assured of the ballot line of the New York State Conservative Party if he seeks higher office.

Upstate Assemblyman and conservative stalwart Steve McLaughlin is already seriously eyeing a bid for governor. Other potential Republican candidates for higher office in New York include re-elected County Executives Kathy Jimino of Rensselaer and Ed Mangano of Nassau and just-elected County Executives Vince Horrigan of Chautauqua, Ed Day of Rockland, Steve Neuhaus of Orange and Matt Ossenfort of Montgomery.

In Connecticut, Republicans had an extraordinary Tuesday as they swept the shoreline of the Nutmeg State and won mayoral races in such blue-collar Democratic bastions as Bristol, Meriden, and New Britain.

"You could say 'a star is born' in New Britain, which has a Democratic voter registration edge of 6-to-1," state Republican Chairman Jerry Labriola, Jr. told Newsmax. He was referring to 26-year-old Erin Stewart, who unseated Democratic Mayor Tim O'Brien in one of the biggest upsets anywhere in the nation Tuesday.

The daughter of a former New Britain mayor, Stewart was a member of the city's board of education and serves on the Republican State Central Committee.

In mobilizing other young people and voters upset with taxes and spending in the Hardware City, she made ample use of such modern tools of communication as blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.

In Meriden, Manny Santos, mechanical engineer and former U.S. Marine, unseated the city's Democratic mayor. All told, Labriola said, "We have about 58 percent of the city governments in Connecticut's 169 towns."

He predicted that this "is just the beginning of the real test, which will be the mid-term elections of 2014" and that "voters know Connecticut has last-place standing in so many economic categories and that it is time to replace [Democratic Gov.] Dan Malloy."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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