In this column, I will outline the election calendar for the next few years and briefly highlight important upcoming elections.
NEW YORK CITY
As we track city politics, our eyes are focused on 2009, a very big election year. Thirty-six of the 51 City Council members will be term-limited out of office in 2009, which means that New Yorkers will be electing 36 newcomers. That year we will also elect a new mayor, comptroller, public advocate, and four new borough presidents. Current councilmembers and other elected officials facing term limits have already begun fundraising and campaigning for higher office and other positions within government. We can expect highly contested Democratic primaries and general elections for many of the offices that will be up for grabs in 2009. Candidates will be working hard to gain as much labor support as they can. This political climate will be a great opportunity for Local 802 and its membership to step up its political activity.
NEW YORK STATE
At the state level, 2008 is the year to watch. While the Democrats in the State Assembly have an overwhelming majority, Democrats in the State Senate are still in the minority. They are behind by three seats and hoping to take the majority in the 2008 elections. Whether Senate leader Joe Bruno and the Republicans can hold on to the majority hinges on whether voters will re-elect Republican incumbents in several key districts in Long Island, Queens and Brooklyn.
At the national level, we have both the presidential election and multiple Congressional races in New York State.
In 2006, Local 802 helped our member John Hall to narrowly defeat Republican incumbent Sue Kelly in the 19th Congressional district in the Hudson Valley.
John Hall has been targeted by the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, and when he runs for re-election in 2008, he’ll likely be up against a tough opponent with ample support from the Republican Party.
The Congressional representative from the North Hudson Valley and Saratoga Springs — Kirsten Gillibrand — is a first-term Democratic representative also on the Republicans’ short list of Democrats to target in 2008.
Representatives Hall and Gillibrand will need our support in 2008 to hold on to their seats and help the Democrats maintain their majority in the House.
In the race for president, New York has followed the lead of many other states and pushed up its primary to “Super Tuesday”: Feb. 5, 2008.
The AFL-CIO has not endorsed any of the Democratic candidates and it looks like they might wait until a winner emerges from the Democratic primary to make an endorsement.
In contrast to the national body, several AFL-CIO affiliate unions have endorsed candidates.
The mineworkers and the steelworkers recently endorsed John Edwards.
Chris Dodd has been backed by the firefighters, and Hillary Clinton gained the support of the machinists and also the United Transportation Union.
Local 802 plans to be involved in this critical presidential election. We definitely need your input and energy on this one, so get ready! If you’re interested in getting involved, contact me at (212) 245-4802, ext. 176.