The 2022 New York State gubernatorial campaign
While it is regrettable that the 2022 gubernatorial elections did not produce the structural change that we had hoped, the outcome was a great deal closer than we have seen in 16 years (see chart).
The trend is clear. The one-party stranglehold on statewide office is eroding. There is hope for a multi-party future.
When the poll results came in, we had a tie. Lee Zeldin and Rob Astorino had tied. We waited until the primary and then we gave our full and unconditional endorsement to the winner, Lee Zeldin. We wish to thank the members of the Libertarian Club of New York for their support, their continued involvement and their timely responses to this important poll.
REGIME CHANGE IN ALBANY
Why is this important?
This was an extraordinary election. The November 2021 ouster of the Democrats in Virginia and the close-call scare in New Jersey came as quite a shock to many. If you have been reading these newsletters, you already know that we have long believed that a similar result was possible in New York in the November 2022 election. New York State was not always majority Democrat and there is no reason to think that the status quo must be permanent. An opposition party candidate can win a statewide election in NY.
This year, in an extraordinary and highly charged political environment, we had two options open to us:
- We could have supported the most libertarian-leaning of the candidates who had a realistic and possibly one-time-only chance of defeating the Democrat candidate.
- We could have supported a third-party-only candidate who had no plausible chance of winning the election and was unlikely to get more than one or two percent of the vote, especially since third party candidates tend to do poorly in close elections.
While NYS gubernatorial elections have not typically been close, this year appeared to be different. The New Jersey gubernatorial race was so close that they needed extra time to tally the votes. If that happened here, the margin of victory could be smaller than the libertarian voting bloc. Although our endorsed candidate lost, that is roughly how it turned out. The political classes will not forget this in future elections.
A third-party-only candidate has not won major office in NYS since James L. Buckley was elected U.S. Senator, under very different circumstances from those prevailing today. However, the libertarian voting bloc can probably determine which of the major party frontrunners will win an election.
The question of whether to support an electable, compromise candidate or a “pure libertarian” candidate is a question that never goes away and can never be definitively settled. However, the fact that all write in candidates combined received about 9600 votes, per the NYSBOE website, makes it very clear that we were right to ignore that option.
OUR ASSESSMENT OF THE SITUATION, GOING FORWARD
The governor was not the only factor in the election. The shrill stridency of the far left was on the ballot. A large and growing segment of the electorate is tiring of their antics. Libertarianism is the antithesis of what the far left is pushing.
The left’s overreaction to the coronavirus was on the ballot. A dissatisfaction with the incumbent government’s ability to increase its own power by declaring an emergency probably pushed the electorate in a more libertarian direction.
A narrow margin of victory like this scares the incumbent party. A political demographic that can move the election a percentage point or two currently has more influence than ever before. An endorsement from a club like ours will carry weight that is out of proportion to the club’s size.
In the interim, we should try to bulk up. Please get your friends, neighbors and relatives to join the LCNY. While we do not have to disclose the size of our membership, we must file financial disclosure statements with the Board of Elections. Those reports are publicly available, so the political classes can estimate what we have.
“The trend is clear.”
“A narrow margin of victory like this scares the incumbent party. A political demographic that can move the election a percentage point or two currently has more influence than ever before.”