Wonky Wednesday:  Onondaga County Legislature 2nd District

Welcome back to Wonky Wednesday.  Each week I do a deep dive into the election and registration data that makes up the electoral landscape of our home, Onondaga County.  I hope by looking into this data we can glean that this everchanging county is not monolithic as once thought and competition for Democrats, and all registrations, can be found everywhere.  This week start my #Fliptheleg series looking at each of the 17 Onondaga County Legislative races.  Today I look at Onondaga County Legislative seat #2


In 2011 John Dougherty, a popular County Legislator, was the incumbent in OCL 2.  The GOP majority redistricting commission made small but important alterations to this district.  The desire to make OCL 4 a more GOP leaning district resulted in packing 3 more Clay EDS with large populations into OCL 2.  This made it an even district, but they banked on the popularity of John Dougherty and power of incumbency to keep this district in the GOP column.  OCL 2 was not changed drastically in the redistricting, unlike many other districts that had weird shapes, in fact this shape is one of the more reasonable.


OCL 2 has a strong DEM plurality to it now though. 36% of registered voters are Democrat while 29% are Democrat and 28% non-enrolled.  This Democratic plurality is not coinciding with democratic representation.  The Town of Clay is tremendously expensive to run in overall and the Democratic committee failed to offer candidates many years.  That is starting to change this year.  This district is one of the few wholly inside a town.  This makes it hard to look at regional differences inside the district but is better for the residents of the district.


The Democratic plurality in OCL 2 is a recent phenomenon.  As we saw from my previous Wonky Wednesday:  The Town of Clay that like many large suburban towns, Democrats have had major strides in registration.  Like the Town of Clay, OCL 2 is seeing dramatic registration changes since 2016. Since its drawing in 2011 the GOP has a very modest gain of 167 voters compared to the Democrats gain of 1396. Just behind the Democrats is the growth of the non-enrolled population gaining 1224 voters.  Not only are the non-enrolled poised to overtake the GOP registrations in this district, but the GOP has also lost voters since last election while Democrats and Non-enrolled continue to gain.


Since the redistricting in 2011 the Democrats have failed to mount a challenge until recently.  James Rowley, a former Clay Town Supervisor and CFO for Onondaga County, succeeded John Dougherty in 2017 and Democrats failed to mount a challenge, again. In 2019 Nodesia Hernandez offered the first Democratic challenger in over a decade on this seat.  Rowley won his first challenge but has since broken a pledge to form an independent redistricting commission as well as other controversial votes.  Jay Snyder, a political newcomer, is challenging Rowley this year.


This district when offered challengers does vote for Democratic candidates.  In 2019 the district supported Ryan McMahon for County Executive and Lisa Dell for County Clerk, however Matt Beadnell continued to lag.  The biggest glimmer of hope is from the last election.  Not only did the district support President Joe Biden and NYS Senator John Mannion by wide margins, but it also even performed well in the congressional race.  Dana Balter lost the district to Katko but if we add the 3rd party votes cast on the WFP line Katko barely won this district.  The key for Snyder and any Democrat running in this district is to offer a contrast and motivate and engage voters who don’t historically turnout in local election years as well as appealing to the growing Non-enrolled voter base.


The Democratic nominee for County Legislature in the 2nd district is Jay Snyder. A healthcare professional and former educator. He can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JayForCountyLeg and on twitter at  https://twitter.com/JayForCountyLeg Follow his campaign to learn how to help.

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