GINY’s 2017 Election Return Watching Guide

It’s been one year since Donald Trump’s stunning victory in the Presidential election.  In normal times, which these are certainly not, the local elections the following year get minimal, if any, attention.  This year is different.

As we watch returns come in tonight, there is more to follow than how our local Democratic candidates for village and town offices perform.  Here’s a list of the most interesting national races and ballot questions we can be watching.  Many of these races are considered referenda on Trump and will provide the first indications of the mood of voters.  Others are tests of the direction of the Democratic Party.

So fasten your seat belts, we could be in for a bumpy ride.

New Jersey:  Governor

Outgoing Republican Gov. Chris Christie and his record-low approval ratings hover mightily over the contest to replace him. His Republican lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, has tried to distance herself from Christie. But former Goldman Sachs executive and US Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy, the Democratic nominee, has led consistently in the polls — and spent tens of millions of his own dollars on the race. A Murphy loss would be a stunning upset.

Virginia:  Governor

Ralph Northam, Virginia’s Democratic lieutenant governor, was once expected to easily defeat Republican Ed Gillespie, a former lobbyist and White House adviser to George W. Bush who’s never held office before, in Virginia’s gubernatorial race. Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the state by 5.3 points last November, and since then Democrats have been overperforming (though not actually winning) in special elections nationwide. Plus, even before Trump was elected, the party controlling the White House tended to lose in Virginia gubernatorial races.

But in recent weeks the race has tightened, leaving Democrats worried that they they may see a replay of Clinton’s loss on Tuesday. While most polls still have Northam in the lead, on election eve his lead over Gillespie was down to 3.3 percent in RealClearPolitics polling averages.

Florida: St. Petersburg Mayor

Former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee have all been involved in the effort to reelect St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman over GOP former Mayor Rick Baker. Obama issued a rare endorsement, while Biden has robocalled for Kriseman and the DNC is touting its financial investments in the race. A recent Baker TV ad highlighted the 2001 arrest of Kriseman’s chief of staff, Kevin King, on a charge involving underage girls when King was 22 years old. Both sides say the race is close.
— Marc Caputo and Matt Dixon, POLITICO Florida

Georgia: Atlanta Mayor

Atlanta’s nonpartisan mayoral contest on Tuesday could lead to the election of the city’s first white mayor since Sam Massell in the early 1970s. City Councilwomen Mary Norwood and Keisha Lance Bottoms appear to have the inside track to be the finalists in next month’s runoff, according to a poll last week. Bottoms garnered a valuable endorsement from term-limited Mayor Kasim Reed, who is interested in a future statewide bid. Norwood, who identifies as an independent, narrowly lost a mayoral bid in 2009. The campaign has taken on a racial tinge — if Norwood, who is white, makes the runoff, she’d likely be an underdog against Bottoms, or another African-American candidate.
— Steven Shepard, POLITICO

Top of Form

Maine: Question 2 (Medicaid expansion)

The Maine referendum is the first in the nation where the question of expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is being put directly to voters. The ballot initiative materialized after Gov. Paul LePage vetoed expansion bills five times. LePage, a Republican, has spearheaded the opposition campaign to the measure, which would provide coverage to roughly 80,000 low-income people, according to a nonpartisan state fiscal office. If approved, Maine would become the 32nd state to adopt the Obamacare provision. Liberal activists around the country are hoping that the ballot measure will re-energize efforts to expand coverage in the 18 states that remain opposed.
— Rachana Pradhan, POLITICO Pro Health Care

Massachusetts: Boston City Council District 1

A local city council race is squaring Boston’s old guard against the new face of the city. Lydia Edwards, a 30-something, up-and-coming immigration lawyer from East Boston is giving Stephen Passacantilli, a recovering addict with a longstanding relationship with Mayor Marty Walsh, and whose family has deep ties with the North End, a run for his money. It’s an open seat to represent the heavily Italian American North End, but also diverse, immigrant-rich East Boston. Passacantilli, initially the odds-on favorite to win, edged Edwards by only 77 votes in the primary. Walsh, whose city hall has employed both candidates, won’t endorse, but he did appear in a mailer distributed by the Passacantilli campaign in Spanish and Mandarin stating “I’m with Stephen.” Popular Democratic state Attorney General Maura Healey, who also lives in the district, came out in support of Edwards.
— Lauren Dezenski, POLITICO Massachusetts

Minnesota: Minneapolis Mayor/St. Paul Mayor

This is the third election in which Minnesota’s big mayoral races will be conducted using ranked-choice voting, in which voters will select their first, second and third choices when they fill out their ballots. But even though ranked-choice voting began in Minnesota in 2009, it’s taken on new relevance recently. Nationally, ranked-choice voting is used in a handful of well-known liberal enclaves: San Francisco and Oakland, along with Takoma Park, Maryland. Voters in Maine last year approved a ballot initiative establishing ranked-choice voting statewide, but that’s being held up by the courts and legislature over concerns it violates the state constitution.
— Steven Shepard

New Hampshire: Manchester Mayor

Manchester is a small city, but this year’s mayoral race there is attracting national attention because of the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary. While that’s more than three years away, a handful of prospective 2020 Democratic candidates have been to Manchester to campaign for Democrat Joyce Craig: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. (Former Vice President Joe Biden endorsed Craig in a video message last week.) As for the race, Craig edged in front of incumbent GOP Mayor Ted Gatsas in the initial vote in September.
— Steven Shepard

New Jersey: State Senate 3rd District

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney has served in the chamber for 16 years, representing a battleground district. But the state’s highest-ranking Democrat has been forced to pump millions of dollars into his bid for reelection because of a bitter feud with the New Jersey Education Association, which tends to lean left but is endorsing his Republican opponent, Fran Grenier a supporter of President Donald Trump. The contest, which has become the most expensive state legislative race in New Jersey history, has already strained relationships between the state’s largest teachers’ union and members of the Democratic Party. Further post-election fallout is possible and will test the political clout of the state’s most powerful special interest group.
— Linh Tat, POLITICO New Jersey

New York: Proposal 1 (Constitutional Convention)

The New York state constitution requires voters every 20 years to decide whether the state should open up its constitution to amendment and revision. Like in past years, the vicennial ballot question has attracted odd coalitions of liberals and conservatives on both sides. The overwhelming majority of spending has come from public-employee unions worried about labor rights and state pensions. Early polls had indicated support for what New York politicos call “Con-Con,” but a Siena College survey last month found opposition spiking.— Steven Shepard

New York: Nassau and Westchester County Executives

While Bill de Blasio is cruising to reelection in New York’s mayoral race, contests in two close-in, Democratic-leaning suburban counties are much closer. In populous Nassau County, the Long Island bedroom community just outside the city, incumbent GOP County Executive Ed Mangano isn’t running for a third term because he’s under indictment for corruption. Polls point to a tight race between Democrat Laura Curran and Republican Jack Martins. Curran has stressed ethics issues — including Mangano’s proclivity for trumpeting his name on county property and publications. Martins has recently focused on immigration, critizing Curran for accepting support from groups that back so-called sanctuary cities. Republicans sent out a controversial mailer saying Curran will “roll out the welcome mat for violent gangs like MS-13!” The mailer, which critics have dubbed racist, includes a photo of several heavily-tattooed men introduced as “your new neighbors.”
— Steven Shepard and Bill Mahoney, POLITICO New York

In Westchester, Democrats would love to knock off two-term County Executive Rob Astorino, whom Gov. Andrew Cuomo defeated in a statewide race three years ago. Democratic state Sen. George Latimer has certainly tried to make the race a referendum on Trump and has compared the county’s budget priorities under Astorino to ideas that have come out of Washington in recent months. On Friday, he was joined by county resident Hillary Clinton, who asserted that Astorino has been “funded by some of Donald Trump’s most powerful allies” as she endorsed Latimer. Astorino, meanwhile, has continued to run on an agenda that has worked for him and other suburban Republicans in the past: above all else, arguing that property taxes in the country’s highest-tax county cannot increase. But to a large degree, the campaign has revolved around bitter personal attacks. Astorino has repeatedly hammered Latimer on an unpaid $46,000 tax bill on a property owned by Latimer’s wife, and Latimer called on Astorino to resign after he was named in a union official’s corruption trial as the alleged recipient of a discounted luxury watch.
— Bill Mahoney, POLITICO New York

Ohio: Issue 2 (Drug prices)

If passed, the most expensive ballot measure in state history would require that state agencies purchase prescription drugs at prices no higher than those paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA typically gets the lowest prices on medicines in the country. The same ballot measure was narrowly defeated (53 percent to 47 percent) in California in 2016, after the drug industry poured in more than $100 million. In Ohio, the yes campaign has adapted their message to the swing state, bringing in Republican operatives like former state GOP chairman Matt Borges and Columbus-based GOP ad-maker Rex Elsass, who’s worked for Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Michelle Bachmann. But opponents feel confident: The drug lobby PhRMA has poured nearly $60 million dollars into the race, spending almost twice as much per voter as they did in California. The yes campaign has raised much less: $16.5 million.
— Sarah Karlin-Smith, POLITICO Pro Health Care

Utah: 3rd Congressional District

Utah is likely to elect a new Republican congressman Tuesday — one who isn’t necessarily on the Trump train. Republican John Curtis is favored to win the special election for the House seat vacated by former GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who resigned this past summer and became a cable-television pundit. A poll last month gave Curtis, the mayor of Provo, a big lead over Democrat Kathie Allen and United Utah candidate Jim Bennett. Curtis, notably, is a former Democrat and was the most moderate candidate in a three-way GOP primary back in August. He didn’t vote for Trump last fall and wrote an op-ed for the Salt Lake Tribune last month headlined, “Where I stand on President Trump.” “People in our communities are hurting. We need to calm the anger,” Curtis wrote. “We need solutions, not rhetoric; substance, not sound bites.”
— Steven Shepard

Virginia: State House of Delegates 13th District

Democrats have identified nearly a dozen targets in the state House, but none have received the media attention of the 13th District, where Democrat Danica Roem is challenging GOP state Rep. Bob Marshall. Marshall is a social conservative running in a D.C. exurb — Prince William County, south and west of Washington — that is increasingly Democratic-leaning: Hillary Clinton won the seat by 15 percentage points last fall. That’s one reason why Roem, a first-time candidate and transgender woman, has received so much national exposure. If elected, she would be the first transgender woman to win election to a state legislature.
— Steven Shepard

Washington: State Senate 45th District

A victory by Democrat Manka Dhingra over Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund would give Democrats control of the upper chamber of Washington state’s legislature — and, as a result, control of every governorship and state legislative chamber in the three Pacific Coast states. The national parties have taken note: Both the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee have poured time and resources into the race. All together, Dhingra and Englund’s campaigns, combined, have spent nearly $3 million, breaking state records for a legislative race. Vice President Joe Biden has endorsed Dhingra, as has Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, whose national ambitions stand to benefit from enacting progressive legislation.

GINY September 17 Meeting Minutes

Twenty-three attended our Sept 17 meeting at 103 Plow

Candidate Endorsements
We invited 23 candidates for local office from Greenwich and the Washington County towns from which we have members. Seven candidates attended and introduced themselves:
• Sue Clary
• Katie DeGroot
• Pat Donahue
• Brian Harrington
• Sara Idleman
• Barbara Kingsley
• Kathleen Ward

We considered the question of whether GINY should make a formal statement of support/endorsement for candidates. A lively discussion settled on members not certain GINY should do that at present since we do not have an articulated position on issues by which to measure if we are aligned with a given candidate. Another factor is that GINY is not an official arm of the Democratic Party and should be able to make our own determination of who to support. It was agreed that we will very likely back Democratic candidates and individuals and subgroups of GINY will continue to actively support. In the future we will establish positions on issues prior to considering candidates for endorsement.

We highlighted the fundraiser rally GINY is planning in support of Sara Idleman, Pat Donahue and Audrey Fischer on October 22 at Green Acres Tavern in Greenwich. We sold 3 $25 tickets for the event.

Constitutional Amendment Referendum
We had an excellent presentation from guest speaker Pamela Malone, President of the Empire State College Chapter of United University Professions (UUP), Member of the statewide UUP Executive Board, Member of New York State United Teachers Board of Directors, Co-chair of UUP’s statewide Outreach Committee and member of our statewide Negotiations Team.

Pamela did a very comprehensive presentation on the background of the Con Con, who is supporting it, the money interests involved and the likelihood of sitting legislators and officials dominating. She stressed the cost of $150 – $300 million and that officials will continue to receive regular salaries as well as an $80,000 salary, including extra pension benefits.

GINY purchased 20 lawn signs and 50 buttons, most of which were picked up by members.


Climate Forum
GINY member MaryLou Stern is organizing an event on climate in cooperation with the Ag Program on October 12 at 7:00 pm at Greenwich Jr/Sr High School. Like he did at our Fake News Forum, Joe Donahue will moderate. We have two heavy hitter panelists:
Judith Enck, Former Regional Administrator of the US EPA and current Senior Advisor for the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development and a regular panelist on WAMC’s The Roundtable
Jeff Goodell, contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine and author of The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities and the Remaking of the Civilized World.

New York Campaign for Health
GINY member Tracy Frisch ( · 518-692-8242) is working with the Campaign for New York Health to recruit people to canvass on September 23. The effort will target poorer areas with the objective to gather personal stories that will form the basis of lobbying efforts in support of the New York Health Act.

Next Meeting The next meeting will be scheduled after the Steering Committee discusses the impact of the day/time change for this meeting and if we want to stay with Sunday, return to Thursday or some other option.

GINY August 17 Meeting Minutes

GINY Meeting 8/17/17

Note Change of Day/Time/Location for next meeting!
Sunday, September 17
5:00 – 7:00 PM
103 Plow
103 Main Street, Greenwich
Pizza Provided, Bring Beverages!

Nine members attended our August 17 meeting at the Cossayuna Fire House.


GDC Caucus

We announced the results of the Greenwich Democratic Committee Caucus on Aug 15. Our slate of candidates:

  • Sara Idleman – Town Supervisor
  • Audrey Fischer – Town Board
  • Pat Donahue – Town Board

Young Democrats of Washington County

  • We discussed a second meeting we had with Dan Barusch of the Saratoga County and DRC Young Dems about organizing a chapter in Washington County.
  • Don Boyagian, one of the announced candidates for NY-21, is also talking with the Young Dems. We are starting to plan an organizational event and we will try to get something set up in the early fall.
  • We have identified through VAN over 100 young registered Democrats to whom we will reach out in the Town of Greenwich’s five election districts alone. We will be identifying others in election districts throughout Washington County between the ages of 18 – 35 to include.

Washington County Fair

GINY will be helping out with two booths at the Fair:

  • North Country Climate will have a booth in Bldg 28 – the Grange/Community Living Bldg – to bring attention to climate issues. Thanks to Herb Perkins for working with the Salem Courthouse Lunch, Learn and Play program to have the 1st to 4th grade group make a tree for the booth. Also, anyone who completes a voter registration or change of registration form at the Washington County Democratic Party booth will receive a voucher to bring for a LED bulb (donated by North Country Climate).
  • Washington County Democratic Party booth in the Commercial Bldg. GINY members will be staffing the table during several time slots during the week. We expect our local and NY-21 candidates to also be spending some time at the booth meeting and talking with Fair goers.


  • Members are encouraged to make comments to the EPA on the issue of GE’s cleanup of PCBs in the Hudson before the deadline on September 1, 2017. The cleanup is only partially completed (approximately 72%) yet GE has been allowed to shut down its plant and de-watering facility. At the very least, cleanup should continue on “hot spots” where concentrations of PCBs remain high. Send comments by mail or email to:
    Gary Klawinski, Director EPA Region 2, Hudson River Office 187 Wolf Road, Suite 303 Albany, NY 12205
  • Members are reminded of an important presentation on August 30 from the Citizens Climate Lobby at ACC/SUNY Adirondack on their lobbying on the Carbon Fee and Dividend. The event is free to all and begins at 5:00, with a catered dinner at 6:00. Discussion continues after dinner until 8:00. Please RSVP to North Country Climate Reality group, or contact MaryLou Stern (

CD 21 Campaign

  • CAT21 (Citizens Acting Together for District 21) will be hosting a Candidates’ Forum at the theater at ACC/SUNY Adirondack on August 31. Invitations were sent to the district incumbent as well as people we knew of who have formally declared their intent to compete for the US House of Representatives Congressional seat in NY District 21. Current District 21 Rep. Elise Stefanik (R) was invited, however, she has not replied. The following people have formally announced their candidacy and have agreed to participate in our event:

o Don Boyajian (D)
o Tedra Cobb (D)
o Russell Finley(R)
o Emily Martz (D)
o Patrick Nelson (D)
o Katie Wilson (D)


  • Plans for a canvass in Greenwich on August 20 have been put on hold. So many of our members are actively engaged in preparation for participation in the Fair and other activities that there is an insufficient number of canvasses to make an impact. Another date will be chosen in the near future.

Constitutional Convention Referendum

  • The planned focus for the canvass was to have been the Constitutional Convention Referendum that will be on the ballot November 7. The bulk of the meeting was a very good discussion of the background, implications/risks and costs associated with a convention. We also discussed who is supporting and opposing passage in November.
  • Key take aways from the discussion:
    o A convention would be a hugely expensive endeavor. Estimates run up to $300 million.
    o Legislators already have the capacity to reform government and amend the NY Constitution through their regular process. This is redundant.
    o Delegates will most likely be sitting officials who will, in addition to their regular salaries, earn $80,000 salaries for the convention.
    o The convention is not time limited, nor is anything in the NYS Constitution off the table, a major concern for environmentalists.
    o Major support for a convention comes from Steve Bannon/Robert Mercer backed Reclaim NY. With vast resources, the delegates they support can hijack the convention to further their agenda of deconstructing government.
    o There is at the moment popular support in NY for a convention. Some may not really understand the implications and others, including some progressive groups, hope for a “people’s convention” that could further the progressive agenda. Given that the election of delegates (separate from the referendum in November) will be an expensive process and one that favors those with political organizations, resources and experience, it is very unlikely to turn out that way.

See the Constitutional Convention Q&A Fact Sheet that follows

Change of Day/Time/Location for next meeting

  • We have heard from several people who would love to attend GINY meetings but are unable to make it on Thursday evenings. We decided to try alternating our Thursday evenings in Cossayuna with other days, times and locations.
  • The next meeting for GINY will be 5:00 pm, Sunday, September 17 at 103 Plow on Main St in Greenwich. Pizza will be provided and members are asked to bring beverages.

Constitutional Convention Q&A Fact Sheet

What will a Constitutional Convention cost?
Estimates run up to $300 Million. Each delegate will be paid a salary of $80,000. Plus, they can hire staff with no exclusions for family and associates. There is no limit on the time a convention can run so the cost can quickly add up.

Who will the delegates be?
There would be an election in 2018 to select delegates. There is a concern that those with the resources and backing of political parties will have a distinct advantage in gathering nominating signatures, campaigning and winning delegate spots.

During the last convention in 1967, four out of five delegates were career politicians, attorneys and Albany insiders. Every politician who ran that year won a delegate seat, and all of the convention leaders were sitting legislators.

While receiving their $80,000 salary as delegates, sitting officials will also continue to receive their regular salaries.

Is this the only way to bring needed reforms to New York?
Reform is needed in Albany. This is by no means the only way to get it. Our elected officials could implement changes through their existing power to legislate or amend the Constitution and avoid a costly convention.

Who is supporting/opposing a Constitutional Convention?
There are progressive and conservative groups supporting a Constitutional Convention in the hope that it will be a “people’s convention” that will bring reform to New York. Out of concern about the delegate selection process and other issues, many more groups – both progressive and conservative – oppose it.


Committee for a Constitutional Convention
Forward March New York
New York State Bar Association
People’s Convention
Sanctuary State Project


Adirondack Council
Council of Churches
Environmental Advocates of New York
NYS Conservative Party
New York Professional Nurses Union
NYS PEF Retirees
NYS Republican State Committee
NYS Rifle and Pistol Association
Port Authority PBA
Planned Parenthood
Right to Life
Strong Economy for All Coalition
Working Families Party

           …… and many more