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Foss: Will there be a blue wave this fall?

Foss: Will there be a blue wave this fall?

Foss: Will there be a blue wave this fall?
Ben Donaghy of Cobleskill signs in to vote Tuesday in the 19th Congressional District.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

34,963. 

That's how many Democrats voted in Tuesday's Democratic primary in the 19th Congressional District. 

Which might not sound like a lot, especially when you consider that the district is home to more than 150,000 registered Democrats. 

But it represents a big jump in voter turnout. 

Approximately 19,000 Democrats turned out for the 2016 primary, which saw Zephyr Teachout face off against Will Yandik before ultimately losing to Republican John Faso.

Faso is an incumbent, and the typical incumbent is difficult to beat. 

But this is not a typical year, and election results from around the country suggest that Democrats are fired up and heading to the polls in far greater numbers than they did just two years ago. 

Propelled by anger toward the Trump administration, they're backing progressive candidates in the Bernie Sanders mold -- people critical of the establishment and eager to shake things up. 

In the 19th Congressional district, voters selected Antonio Delgado, a Schenectady native and political newcomer, who told his supporters that "there's a cruelty in our current political system that can no longer be tolerated, that is no longer acceptable, that is dark, that is ugly and that festers on ignorance -- exploits anxiety that is actually not even there, based on the illusion of scarcity in this country." 

Whether Delgado becomes part of the "blue wave" some are predicting will return the Senate and possibly even the House of Representations to Democratic control remains to be seen. 

But it's a strong possibility. 

Faso is vulnerable, in large part because he's a Republican in a swing district at a time when the opposing party is highly energized and out for blood. 

At the federal level, party swings are fairly common -- so common, in fact, that I would be more surprised to see voters preserve the status quo in the general election this fall than shatter it. 

In 2010, two years into former President Barack Obama's first term, Republicans retook the House of Representatives, with the Tea Party movement playing a major role in energizing the Republican base. 

Something similar is happening now, but with the Democrats. 

The party is eager to take control of as much of the federal government as they can, but also to remake a party they correctly perceive as old and out of touch with its base. 

The biggest upset on Tuesday occurred in New York's 14th Congressional District, where powerful 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley was defeated by 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. 

Among other things, Ocasio-Cortez has called for Medicare-for-all, a federal jobs guarantee and tuition-free college. 

These were once fringe positions, but they're quickly becoming mainstream Democratic positions. 

In the 21st Congressional District, former St. Lawrence County legislator Tedra Cobb emerged from a crowded Democratic field and will take on Republican incumbent Elise Stefanik this fall. 

Cobb faces a tougher road to victory than Delgado, because the 21st is a solidly Republican district. 

But I wouldn't rule her out. 

We've seen some strange things happen at the ballot box over the past two years. 

If a Democrat can win a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama -- one of the reddest states in the country -- then a Democrat can win a Congressional seat in northern New York. 

Or in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills. 

The electorate is pushing for change. 

A blue wave is coming. 

It's just a matter of how big and sweeping that wave will be.  

Reach Sara Foss at [email protected]. Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper's.

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