Election Results 2011: A Democratic Victory for New York State

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Several local Democrats running with strong backing from Gov. Andrew
Cuomo pulled off victories last night, a sign of the governor’s growing
political clout and perhaps of how the Occupy Wall Street message
filtered down to some key local races in an otherwise anemic election
year. —

But some said it was too early to call the string of Democratic
victories spanning New York state part of a larger trend in what has
proven to be a topsy-turvy political year: After Democrats won an
upstate congressional race in a Republican district this spring,
Republicans picked up a big win in a Democratic seat in New York City
this fall.

Still, Democrats involved in Democrat Mark Poloncarz’s surprisingly
strong victory over incumbent Republican Erie County Executive Chris
Collins say the result shows a clear shift.

Democrats say the race was a referendum on Collins’ anti-union
message and corporate style, which clashed with an ascendant sense of
economic unease fueled by Occupy Wall Street. A business tycoon who
self-funded much of his campaign, Collins was portrayed by his opponents
as a member of the “1 percent.” And at his victory rally, Poloncarz
introduced labor leaders and union members to the loudest hoots and
hollers of the night.

“There are so many of you – white collar, blue collar,” he said. “We
will never be ashamed of our backgrounds. We will always be there
protecting the middle class, the working class, from people who would
like to destroy our way of life.”

From the outset of his tenure, Collins battled with public employee
unions, relying on a style of government that aimed to cut costs while
running government like a private business – a style was known as Lean
Six Sigma. That brought initial popularity as Collins turned around the
county’s finances, spurring talk of a run for governor.

Cuomo was personally invested in the race, campaigning with Poloncarz
and loaning the candidate Jennifer Cunningham, one of his top
strategists. Collins’s defeat eliminates one potential 2014 rival for
the governor.

– Chris Bragg

To read the full report on last nights election, head to The Capitol