Welcome to this week’s episode of Wonky Wednesday. As a part of my ongoing voter education efforts I am doing a weekly blog doing a dive into registration data for the races on the ballot on the 2020 ballot. Onondaga County has undergone tremendous change throughout the last decade. These changes have given Democrats enrollment advantages or closed deficits in many races. The 5 Assembly races in Onondaga County are no exception to those changes.
Enter the 126th Assembly district. This district is in the Southwest portion of Onondaga County bad travels west to the southern portion of Cayuga County and then snakes back east to capture the northern halves of Cortland & Chenango County. This district has been represented by Gary Finch (R) for over 20 years. His announced retirement and intention not to run again leaves this an open seat in 2020. The seat tilts to the GOP and is dominated in population by Onondaga County followed closely by Cayuga.
The Democratic candidate for this seat is Dia Carabajal. She is running on the Democratic and Working families line. A former member of the Auburn City Council she is focusing her race on the environmental record. She is also making an appeal that a member of the majority will be more effective in bringing resources to the region then staying in the GOP minority in the NYS Assembly.
The Republican candidate is John Lemondes. Mr. Lemondes is actually the last candidate to enter this race as he was a replacement for the original GOP candidate Ken Bush. Mr. Lemondes upset Lafayette Town supervisor and son of Onondaga County DA, Danny Fitzpatrick. He will appear on the GOP, Conservative, and Independence Party line.
This district is trending toward the Democrats but not at as high a rate as previous wonky Wednesday. Democrats have decreased the GOP enrollment advantage by over 1500 voters since 2012. That is a 25% gain during that time period. However the GOP advantage remains for the 2020 election and is still a problem for any perspective Democrat.
It may surprise some readers to see that the Onondaga County portion of this district is not the most Democratic portion. The Cayuga County portion of the district contains the City of Auburn which has a decided Democratic plurality to it. Ms. Carabajal’s representation in Auburn can hopefully lend itself to turning up Democratic leaning voters to vote for her in the fall. The southwestern towns of Onondaga County are trending towards the Democrats however the historic deficits in enrollment will mean it is years before they reach plurality Democrat.
The key to this race will be like most 2020 races, capitalizing on the increased turnout of a Presidential year. It should be noted that Mr. Finch never really won his races much beyond the voter enrollment edges he enjoyed. Ms. Carabajal to be successful will have to convince Presidential voters to stay on the line and vote for her as well. She will also need to convince more conservative and independent voters that her candidacy is a viable alternative to a GOP candidate they may not know. If she can do that she can piece together a coalition to win in November.
If you want to help out Dia Carabajal visit her website https://www.diaforassembly.com/ to learn how to volunteer or donate to her campaign.