Despite being at a nearly 2-1 disadvantage in voter registration, Democrats dominated elections in Essex County Nov. 6. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, carried the county over Republican challenger Mitt Romney by a 8,805-5,976 margin.
Despite being at a nearly 2-1 disadvantage in voter registration, Democrats dominated elections in Essex County Nov. 6.
President Barack Obama, a Democrat, carried the county over Republican challenger Mitt
Romney by a 8,805-5,976 margin.
In the race for U. S. Senate, Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand topped Republican Wendy Long, 9,091-4,652, in Essex County.
Bill Owens, a Democrat seeking re-election to New York’s 21st District in the U.S. House of Representatives won Essex County over Republican Matt Doheny, 7,707-6,181.
The only Republicans to win Essex County were Dan Stec, running for the state’s 114th Assembly seat, and Betty Little running for re-election to the state Senate.
Stec narrowly beat Democrat Dennis Tarantino, 6,898-6,276, in Essex County. Little, running unopposed, got 11,202 votes.
“It is encouraging to see that Democrats have prevailed in a primarily Republican county and across the country,” said Bethany Kosmider, Essex County Democratic Party chairwoman. “It is obvious that not all people vote their party line.
“President Obama has demonstrated commitment to the American people and apparently there is enough faith in Essex County and America to continue on the same path for another four years,” she said. “Rome wasn't built in a day and I trust we will continue to move forward.”
Ron Jackson, Essex County Republican chairman, acknowledged his party is disappointed.
“They (Democrats) did a better job of getting their message out,” Jackson said. “I thought we would do better with the economy being bad.
“We (Republicans) worked hard,” he added. “Matt Doheny spent a lot of time in the county. All we can do is keep trying.”
Republicans have long been the dominant party in Essex County. This year there are 13,038 registered Republicans and 7,314 registered Democrats. There are 2,035 registered independents.
But that registration advantage hasn’t translated into success lately.
Democrats thrived in the 2008 general election in Essex County. Democrats crushed Republicans at every turn. Barack Obama was elected president in a landslide. Democrats increased their majorities in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. They took control of the New York State legislature.
In 2008 Obama won in 16 of the 18 towns in Essex County. Obama received 9,531 votes (56.1 percent) for president in Essex County. GOP candidate John McCain got 7,189 (42.3 percent).
Even hometown favorite Alexander “Sandy” Treadwell of Westport felt the sting of being a Republican in 2008. Running against Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand for a seat in the House, the former Essex County and New York State GOP chairman was crushed.
Not only did he lose by a wide margin, Treadwell lost Essex County, 2,701-2,502, after spending $6 million of his own money on the campaign.
In 2010 and Gillibrand gave up her seat in the U.S. House to become a U.S. Senator.
Despite enrollment figures that say otherwise, Jackson believes Essex County is becoming more Democratic.
“A lot of the old timers (Republicans) have died or moved away,” he said. “Now we’ve got people moving here from downstate, Massachusetts and Vermont. They’re mostly Democrats.”
Jackson also feels the response of Owens, Gillibrand and Gov. Andrew Cuomo — all Democrats — to last year’s Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee swayed voters.
“They really helped people out, especially in the Keene area,” Jackson said of the Democratic leaders. “The voters remember that.”
Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava also believes the Essex County electorate has changed.
“When I first ran for office in 1985 it was very important to be on the Republican Party line,” he said. “People voted strictly party lines.
“I remember going door-to-door and meeting a wonderful lady,” Scozzafava added. “We visited for an hour. When I got up to leave we hugged and kissed. Then she told me she wouldn’t vote for me because I was a Republican.
“The last few elections you see more and more people voting all over the ballot,” he said. “People look more at the candidates and vote for the person they think will do the best job.”
Scozzafava, a Republican Party maverick, thinks that’s a good thing. This year he endorsed Democrat Bill Owens for the U.S. House. Two years ago he backed Democrat Andrew Cuomo for governor.
“There is so much more information available to voters today because of the internet,” Scozzafava said. “People don’t have to accept the party line, they can do some research and decide on the best candidate to support. Today every candidate’s record is on the internet and our voters are much more educated on the issues.”