The 2012 election is days away and the race for the White House is the closest it can be.
Here on Long Island, the question is: Considering the ongoing struggle to recover from Hurricane Sandy, who will come to the polls in a state that President Barack Obama is expected to carry easily? Democrats are counting on having his name at the top of their ticket as an added attraction to pull their supporters into the voting booths. If their voters show up as they did in 2008—a huge if—then they could swing many down-ballot races their way.
One result could be the Republicans losing the State Senate since their present majority is razor thin. That’s why the hottest state race on the Island is to fill Sen. Owen Johnson’s open seat in the 4th Senate District. The veteran Republican lawmaker retired after 40 years and the district has been redrawn. The charges flying between the Democrat, Legis. Rick Montano, and the Republican, Assemb. Phil Boyle, are fast and furious.
Equally incendiary is the Congressional race on the East End between the incumbent Democrat, Rep. Tim Bishop, and his Republican challenger, Randy Altschuler. Bishop has drawn the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (whose image has shown up on a surprising number of LI Republicans’ websites this fall), whereas Altschuler drew House Speaker John Boehner to stand beside him. Few expect the Republicans to lose the House but their hold might slip—and it’s conceivable this contest could prove decisive. Millions of dollars have already poured into this campaign, which is a repeat of the race between these two men that was decided by 593 votes in 2010.
Another question this time around is whether the so-called “war on women”—in which women’s reproductive rights are being challenged by social conservatives—will factor in. Certainly, it’s one issue that separates Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the incumbent Democrat, from her conservative Republican challenger, Wendy Long.
In general, the ravages of the Recession continue to weigh most heavily on the voters, whether in Washington or in Albany, and whoever wins this election will have a hard job ahead putting people back to work and rebuilding our ravaged region.
More than a century ago, after traveling through America, Alexis de Tocqueville was inspired to write: “Democracy, which shuts the past against the poet, opens the future before him.”
As far as we know, no poets are running for office this year, but there’s one thing that everyone can agree is on the ballot: the future.