The New York Credit Union Association is encouraging all credit union advocates to participate in tomorrow’s midterm elections. The elections for offices at the federal and state levels could have a significant impact on legislative issues impacting credit unions.
Polling spots will open at 6 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. To find a polling location or for general voting information, visit the Board of Elections website.
While there are a handful of notable races to watch in the Assembly, the chamber will remain in Democratic control by a large margin. In the state Senate, control of the chamber is on the line, and could potentially flip, ostensibly giving Democrats control over both houses of the Legislature, as well as the executive branch.
In the previous legislative session, the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference—a breakaway faction of Democrats who voted with Republicans—dissolved and re-joined the mainline Democrats. This gave the Senate Democrats a numerical majority in the chamber. But Senate Republicans retained control thanks to Sen. Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, who was elected as a Democrat but conferences with the Republicans. By the end of the session, there were 31 Democrats, 31 Republicans, and Felder tipping the balance in favor of Republicans.
In September, progressives made significant gains in the Democratic primaries. Notably, six out of eight members of the IDC were unseated by progressive challengers. The Democratic primary also saw a record turnout of 1.5 million, which is more than double the turnout in 2014. This is widely seen as a signal of high enthusiasm and engagement among Democrats this year.
Roughly 14 seats are in play statewide, only two of which are currently held by Democratic incumbents. This means that Senate Republicans are playing defense in 12 of 14 competitive races, and Democrats have many more opportunities than Republicans to pick up seats. The key battlegrounds will be on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley.
Senate District 5 (Nassau and Suffolk Counties)
R – Carl Marcellino (23-year incumbent)
D – James Gaughran (backed by CUPAC)
Last election: Marcellino 50.6 percent / Gaughran 49.4 percent
2016 Presidential Election: Clinton +3 percent
Voter registration: 77,226 active Democrats, 72,256 active Republicans, 58,196 active unaffiliated.
Senate District 7 (Nassau County)
R – Elaine Phillips (freshman incumbent, new chair of Senate Banks Committee)
D – Anna Kaplan
Last election: Phillips 51.2 percent / Adam Haber 48.8 percent
2016 Presidential Election: Clinton +12.8 percent
Voter registration: 87,591 active Democrats, 63,296 active Republicans, 56,434 active unaffiliated.
Senate District 8 (Nassau and Suffolk Counties)
R – Jeff Pravato
D – John Brooks (freshman incumbent, backed by CUPAC)
Last election: Brooks 50.11 percent / Michael Venditto 49.89 percent
2016 Presidential Election: Clinton +2.8 percent
Voter registration: 84,845 active Democrats, 74,172 active Republicans, 51,366 active unaffiliated
Senate District 39 (Rockland, Orange, and Ulster Counties)
R – Tom Basile
D – James Skoufis (current Assemblyman, backed by CUPAC)
Last Election: William Larkin (R, retiring incumbent) 57.7 percent / Christopher Eachus 42.3 percent
2016 Presidential Election: Trump +3.5 percent
Voter registration: 65,669 active Democrats, 51,595 active Republicans, 38,262 unaffiliated
The outcome of the general elections will have significant implications for credit unions. While credit unions have had a number of allies in the Republican conference over the last several decades, it is widely believed that the Democratic conference is much more closely aligned with the credit union movement ideologically and is therefore more supportive of the credit union movement’s legislative agenda. If the Democrats manage to win control of the Senate, this may open new doors to advance long-standing credit union legislative priorities.
In the New York gubernatorial race, Democrat incumbent Andrew Cuomo is facing off against Republican challenger and Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro. Other candidates include former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who is running as an independent, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, and Libertarian Candidate Larry Sharpe. A recent poll shows Cuomo leading Molinaro by 13 points.
At the federal level, the 2018 midterm elections are shaping up to be among the most important elections in decades. The House of Representatives and the Senate, both of which are currently under Republican control, are potentially in play.
In the U.S. Senate, there are 26 seats up for election this year currently held by Democrats and only nine currently held by Republicans. Among the Democratic seats up in 2018, the Cook Political Report rates eight of them as competitive, with five rated as toss-ups.
In New York, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, is up for election. Gillibrand did not face a competitive primary in June. She faces Republican challenger Chele Farley in the General Election, but the seat is considered one of the safest in the country and Gillibrand is very likely win re-election. New York’s other U.S. senator, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, is not up for election until 2023.
From a credit union perspective, Gillibrand was visibly supportive of credit unions during her tenure in the House of Representatives and throughout her first campaign for the U.S. Senate, but she has been less outwardly supportive in recent years. Specifically, she has declined to meet with credit union representatives for the past several years. Recently, the Association began establishing new inroads into Gillibrand’s office and had multiple meetings with her senior staff. In those meetings, her staff has conveyed Gillibrand’s continued support for credit unions.
In the House of Representatives, Democrats would have to flip 23 seats from red to blue to win the majority. Analysts currently predict that Democrats could flip as many as 35 seats.
There are 2 high-profile toss-up races to watch in New York:
NY-19 (Hudson Valley)
R – John Faso (freshman incumbent, former state Assemblyman)
D – Antonio Delgado (attorney, political newcomer)
2016 Election: Trump +7 percent
2012 Election: Obama +6 percent
Voter registration: 141,289 active Democrat, 138,473 active Republican, 114,937 active unaffiliated
Polling: Dead heat
S.2155 Vote: Faso voted “Yes”
NY-22 (Central NY and Southern Tier)
R – Claudia Tenney (freshman incumbent on the Financial Services Committee, former state Assemblywoman)
D – Anthony Brindisi (Assemblyman)
Last election: Tenney 46.5 percent, Kim Myers 41.1 percent
2016 Election: Trump +15.5 percent
2012 Election: Romney +.04 percent
Voter registration: 127,765 active Democrat, 158,621 active Republican, 80,746 active unaffiliated
Polling: Dead heat
S.2155 Vote: Tenney voted “Yes”
For credit unions, the 2018 midterm elections are critically important. The Trump administration and the Republican Congress have rolled back onerous regulations and have generally carried out a pro-business agenda. If the Democrats manage to flip one or both houses in Congress, this will put the brakes on regulatory relief. Tenney in particular has been a major supporter of credit unions, introducing multiple pro-credit union regulatory relief bills, some of which were included in the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S.2155) signed into law earlier this year. While the Association has a good working relationship with Brindisi, the credit union movement would lose a strong ally if Tenney loses.
There are also implications for the House Financial Services and Senate banking committees. If the Republicans retain control of the Senate, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), currently chairman of the banking committee, could become chair of the Senate Finance Committee. In that case, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) would likely be the new banking committee chair.
If Democrats win control of the Senate, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) would be expected to lead the panel. On the House side, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calf.) would lead the Financial Services Committee.