Sabatos Crystal Ball

New York Races

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New York (03)

Outlook: Likely Republican


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Watch List” of the next 25 House races worth keeping an eye on.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Rep. Peter King (R) will win reelection over Dave Mejias (D). King is the last Republican left representing Long Island, and Democrats are hoping that if there’s any year they can finish him off, it’s this one. Nassau County legislator Mejias has run a creditable campaign, and King has spent more heavily from his coffers this time around than he has in more typical election cycles. Still, a truly huge wave would have to hit the South Shore to dethrone this long-serving incumbent.


Candidates

Peter King (I) – Republican – Total Raised: $1,350,252.19 | Total Spent: $1,041,503.23
Website

Dave Mejias – Democrat – Total Raised: $640,845.98 | Total Spent: $536,533.40
Website

New York (19)

Outlook: Toss-up


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Watch List” of the next 25 House races worth keeping an eye on.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Rep. Sue Kelly (R) will win reelection over John Hall (D). This Westchester-based district is only marginally Republican at the national level, and the songwriter Hall is hoping to capitalize on campaign help from music business friends and the Clintons. In a year when Democrats will be racking up big statewide victories, Hall could give Kelly headaches tomorrow. We predict Kelly will win by a narrower count than initially expected, but it’s possible we could see a surprise upset.


Candidates

Sue Kelly (I) – Republican – Total Raised: $2,070,870.18 | Total Spent: $1,589,569.60
Website

John Hall – Democrat – Total Raised: $1,026,012.83 | Total Spent: $916,307.56
Website

New York (20)

Outlook: Toss-up


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Ferocious FIFTY” list of the 50 most competitive House races in the nation.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Kirsten Gillibrand (D) will unseat Rep. John Sweeney (R).We still believe that this district is the second-likeliest of all upstate GOP-held districts to elect a Democrat in 2006, but we cannot help but wonder if Sweeney is this year’s cat with nine lives. Gillibrand’s strong fundraising and energetic presence on the campaign trail have helped to compensate for the strong Republican tendencies of the district, but Sweeney’s most glaring vulnerabilities have been self-inflicted; reports of improper appearances at ski resorts with lobbyists and at fraternity parties with inebriated college students have dogged him. We wonder if the most recent published allegations of spousal abuse will be the last straw. It’s just a hunch, and we would not at all be surprised to see Sweeney survive, but we think Gillibrand just might sneak by.

September 2, 2006 Update:

Now that Democratic attorney Kirstin Gillibrand is up with hard-hitting ads on the Iraq War, we look forward to finding out whether her line of attack will succeed in shifting large numbers of votes in this ordinarily Republican upstate district. Republican Rep. John Sweeney is taking nothing for granted, and with some union backing remains a slight favorite. We can envision the political tides in this district shifting quickly, though.

July 13, 2006 Update:

Democrats are positively giddy that challenger Kirsten Gillibrand appears to have out-raised veteran GOP Rep. John Sweeney for the second quarter of 2006, posting over $500,000 to Sweeney’s $479,000. Gillibrand, an energetic and well-connected candidate who promises to mount the most serious challenge of Sweeney’s career, will certainly use some of those funds to project some of her best ammunition at the incumbent, who took some heat after being photographed partying at a Union College fraternity house.

For their part, Republicans are eager to paint Gillibrand as an out-of-touch city Democrat who lacks the experience necessary to represent this sprawling upstate district. Sweeney is assisted somewhat by the fact that he has received several endorsements from organized labor; he is always quick to point to his background as the son of a union household. In a moderately Republican district where Gillibrand will need to retain every Democratic vote to stay competitive, this factor leads us to keep this district out of the ranks of the Dirty Thirty this month, but just barely.


February 2006 Outlook:

Republican Rep. John Sweeney has always claimed commanding margins in this Upstate New York seat, but Democratic attorney Kirstin Gillibrand has recently gone on the attack, taking him to task for traveling to a lobbyist-funded ski vacation. Gillibrand’s main asset as a challenger will be access to money, and if she can succeed in keeping Sweeney on the defensive, she just might give the incumbent cause for some concern.

Candidates

John Sweeney (I) – Republican – Total Raised: $2,617,232.09 | Total Spent: $2,842,720.26
Website

Kirsten Gillibrand – Democrat – Total Raised: $2,036,213.59 | Total Spent: $1,874,076.24
Website

New York (24) (Open Seat)

Outlook: Leans Democratic


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Ferocious FIFTY” list of the 50 most competitive House races in the nation.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Mike Arcuri (D) will defeat Ray Meier (R). National Republicans most likely shot themselves in the foot in this district by airing an ad accusing Arcuri of calling a fantasy sex phone line on taxpayer dollars; the call log
clearly showed the call was misdialed, editorialists denounced the ad, and it was quickly taken off the air. But we might have picked Arcuri to win anyway: he has run the more able campaign in a district where sentiment for change is strong. Look for Meier to fall a few points shy tomorrow.

August 27, 2006 Update:

If any open seat best represents the wide-open battle for Congress in 2006, it’s this Utica-area district, which has been represented by retiring liberal Republican Sherwood Boehlert for over two decades. Although this area of upstate New York tilted narrowly to President Bush in 2004, it’s a safe bet the president’s approval numbers are now significantly upside-down here, giving four-term Oneida County D.A. Mike Arcuri (D) a very good shot at defeating Boehlert’s personal choice of successor, more moderate-to-conservative state Sen. Ray Meier. Both parties’ candidates are unusually strong, share the same geographic base, and take every opportunity to wrap themselves in the popular Boehlert’s moderate mantle. It’s a pure toss-up each side desperately hopes will fall their way as returns are reported.

June 29, 2006 Update:

Since the Crystal Ball’s last writing, both party favorites in this open seat contest were aided by the departure of a primary rival from the race. Democrat Mike Arcuri and GOP State Sen. Ray Meier are set to do battle in a district Bush won narrowly and Spitzer and Cliton will win handsomely. The moderate Meier may retain the slightest of advantages, but in our estimation, this race still belongs in the toss-up column.


March 2006 Outlook:

It is always easier to assess races “on paper” and much harder to get a feel for developments on the ground. One race where this seems especially true, at least in the early stages, is the race to succeed longtime moderate GOP Rep. Sherry Boehlert, who dealt his party’s efforts at incumbent retainment another blow when he announced his retirement last week. Without any guarantee of ascending to the Transportation Committee’s helm, it would seem the soon-to-be septuagenarian Boehlert had little incentive to make another go of it.

On paper, it would seem as if the presence of a Boehlert-handpicked moderate GOP candidate on the ballot in 2006 would give the party a leg up in this upstate New York district that voted narrowly for Bush in 2004. Indeed, GOP State Sen. Ray Meier, who has stressed lobbying reform in the NY legislature, has both an impressive leadership portfolio and a nearly clear primary field (save for conservative Seneca Falls Mayor Brad Jones, who may or not be able to give him fits – time will tell). It’s clear that Boehlert will back him, and in any other year, that alone just might have been enough to win.

But sensing opportunity in 2006, one very credible Democrat had already entered the race before Boehlert’s retirement, and now enjoys a head-start on the competition at this relatively late stage in the candidate entry season. He is Oneida County District Attorney Michael Arcuri, and although he will face Cortland Mayor Bruce Tytler in New York’s late primary, we believe he will likely end up as the Democratic nominee. And why would he be competitive against Meier? To begin with, as an elected Oneida County official, Arcuri actually already represents more of the 24th District than Meier, whose legislative district’s overlap with the 24th comprises about 90 percent of Oneida’s electorate but nothing else.

In a February email to the Crystal Ball (before Boehlert announced his retirement), one Arcuri backer in the district noted: “Arcuri has been elected DA as a Democrat four times in a Republican County. He_s raised $50,000 so far this year (not reflected in any FEC filings yet) and plans to have $250,000 on hand by March. The large district has plenty of small, marginally Democratic cities–Oneonta, Geneva, Cortland, Auburn and Cooperstown…and the towns surrounding Ithaca that range between Democratic and Communist!…”

In this bleak electoral climate for the GOP, we’d have to differ with a few experts and rate this open seat Democratic takeover opporuntity a tossup for November. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the likely Republican hopeful to replace Boehlert, but there’s really not much going right for GOP prospects in general in 2006 nationally, and in upstate New York especially.

Candidates

Mike Arcuri – Democrat – Total Raised: $1,614,843.60 | Total Spent: $1,323,710.15
Website

Ray Meier – Republican – Third Quarter Raised: $282,689.20 | Cash on Hand: $379,407.16
Website

New York (25)

Outlook: Toss-up


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Ferocious FIFTY” list of the 50 most competitive House races in the nation.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Rep. Jim Walsh (R) will win reelection over Dan Maffei (D). There’s no denying Maffei has closed the gap considerably in this moderate-to-liberal Syracuse area district, and national Democrats are optimistic about the upstart’s chances against veteran moderate incumbent Walsh. We think at least one of these Democratic “reach” districts in upstate New York will fall to the Democrats, but reliable data is not in abundance in these races and we have no idea which ones are moving more quickly away from Republicans than others. As a result, we just have to bet on the incumbent.

July 13, 2006 Update:

Democrats seeking to expand the national playing field of competitive House races have eyed this Syracuse-anchored district carefully for an understandable reason: GOP Rep. James Walsh has not faced serious competition in recent cycles in a district that voted for John Kerry in 2004. Their nominee this year will be House committee staffer Dan Maffei, who has a clear primary field and hopes New York’s poor political environment for Republicans will give Walsh some heartburn. Still, Walsh looks to be taking nothing for granted and remains a solid favorite to win reelection.


Candidates

James Walsh (I) – Republican – Total Raised: $1,115,395.54 | Total Spent: $1,060,680.24
Website

Dan Maffei – Democrat – Total Raised: $635,376.74 | Total Spent: $606,871.17
Website

New York (26)

Outlook: Toss-up


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Ferocious FIFTY” list of the 50 most competitive House races in the nation.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Rep. Tom Reynolds (R) will win reelection over Jack Davis (D).When
parties lose big in congressional elections, there tend to be a few losses that tower over others in symbolic importance. A defeat of Reynolds, the chair of Republican campaign efforts in the House, would fit that bill. And when he was first implicated in the Foley cover-up, that precise scenario seemed almost inevitable. But beyond a reasonable doubt, Reynolds has improbably come back from the dead. Why? Our guess is that voters finally had a reason to take a good look at the eccentric septuagenarian Davis and didn’t entirely like what they saw. Davis self-funds his campaigns and arrived at a not-too-shabby 44 percent of the vote in 2004, but his attacks on Reynolds may be so blustery as to diminish their credibility. We have switched our rating of this race, and now give the edge to Reynolds hanging on by a fingernail in this Buffalo-based seat.

September 28, 2006 Update:

Upstate New York Rep. Tom Reynolds, head of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee and the effort to keep the House under control of the GOP, is in danger of losing his own seat. A new SurveyUSA poll finds Reynolds clinging to a mere 2 point lead over Democrat Jack Davis, 45 to 43 percent. This variation is well within the margin of sampling error of 4.5 percent, with the added risk of the Green Party candidate, Christine Murphy, who is pulling 8 points in her favor. In 2004, Reynolds beat Davis by 12 points.

Clare Seekins, Crystal Ball Northeastern Regional Correspondent


Candidates

Tom Reynolds (I) – Republican – Total Raised: $3,745,747.68 | Total Spent: $3,684,725.94
Website

Jack Davis – Democrat – Total Raised: $51,770.99 | Total Spent: $1,751,066.41
Website

Christine Murphy – Independent

New York (29)

Outlook: Leans Republican


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Ferocious FIFTY” list of the 50 most competitive House races in the nation.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Rep. Randy Kuhl (R) will win reelection over Eric Massa (D). The lack of a major third party presence on the ballot this year-as opposed to past years-may work to Massa’s advantage ever-so-slightly, but Kuhl has compiled a moderate record that fits the district well in his first term. On the other hand, Massa is a veteran who has raised and spent a respectable amount of money in a district that is trending away from the national GOP. We cannot entirely rule out an upset, and we do believe at least one of these upstate New York districts will flip, but we can’t bring ourselves to wager against Kuhl.

July 13, 2006 Update:

Freshman GOP Rep. Randy Kuhl continues to hold a wide lead over Democratic rival Eric Massa in the fundraising department, and Kuhl’s new-found support on the Conservative Party line leads the Crystal Ball to question Democratic chances here even further. Indeed, it is possible that by the end of the cycle the next-door 26th District, featuring NRCC Chair Rep. Tom Reynolds, will overtake the race in this Southern Tier district on this list. But for now, it appears Democrats have a better candidate than they fielded in 2004, and this remains a race worth watching.


February 2006 Outlook:

GOP Rep. Randy Kuhl‘s underwhelming 51 to 41 to 6 percent victory over a flawed Democratic candidate and a Conservative Party vote-drainer in 2004’s open seat race to replace ex-Rep. Amo Houghton gave Democrats hope that they could present him with a formidable challenge in 2006.

This time around, the Democratic standard-bearer will be retired Naval officer and Wesley Clark ally Eric Massa, who has so far kept pace in the money chase but lags seriously behind Kuhl in cash on hand.

Candidates

Randy Kuhl (I) – Republican – Total Raised: $1,328,855.45 | Total Spent: $1,161,768.73
Website

Eric Massa – Democrat – Total Raised: $1,068,169.23 | Total Spent: $785,770.31
Website