Wonky Wednesday:  Onondaga County Legislative District 6

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 #6.


In 2011 this seat was represented by James Rinehart the chairman of the state legislature.  This seat was seen as a forever GOP controlled district comprising of some of the more conservative parts of the county.  The GOP majority on the redistricting commission only added a few eds in Camillus to the district as All districts needed to pick up some population, but generally it avoided the weird shapes other districts were forced into. After redistricting was done Rinehart did not run for re-election.


OCL 6 is still generally seen as one of the more GOP dominated districts, registration wise, in Onondaga County. Republicans account for 36% of the district while Democrats make up just 30%.  Non-enrolled voters account for 26% of the registered voters. There are 5 towns represented in OCL 6 making it one of the larger land mass districts in the county.  A portion of Camillus makes up the plurality of the district at 34% and the town of Skaneateles being the other major population center at 28%.  Marcellus at 23%, Otisco at 9% and Spafford at 6% make up the rest of the district.


While this has been seen as a mostly republican district, Democrats have been making steady gains in this district.  Democrats have gained 989 voters since the last redistricting while the GOP has lost 553 voters,  Of course the non-enrolled has grown as well gaining  764 voters.  Though Democrats started from a pretty bad place registration wise the changing demographics of the suburbs have given Democrats a chance in this once blood red district.


We can see that the Camillus portion of the district is the Democratic portion of not just OCL 6 but the town of Camillus itself.  Though Camillus voter registration is driving some of the tightening in the district, we noted earlier that the towns of Skaneateles and Marcellus have seen a tightening of the registrations there.  This means that the general gop lean of the district is starting to be chipped away at. Otisco and Spafford remain pretty republican but are also very small towns and dwarfed by the bigger portions in the district.


Michael Plochocki succeeded James Rinehart by winning a closer than expected election in 2011.  Toby Shelley came within a few hundred votes of defeating him and flipping this district.  In 2013 the Democrats let Plochocki go unchallenged.  In 2015 Plochocki easily won re-election against Susan Scheurman.  In 2017 Joe Paduda mounted a stronger challenge significantly doing better than Democrats had done in a while.  As is the custom with County Government when a county lawmaker is challenged electorally, the County Executive hires them to a top paying county job, in this case a Plochocki assumed created position with the County Attorney.  Current representative Julie Abbott Keenan was named to replace Plochocki and easily beat Susan Scheurman in 2019 in her 2nd run for office.


The comparative aces show a district that bucks its partisan registration lean.  While in 2019 the distractive supported the GOP by double digits in the County Executive Race and County Clerk, there was a huge drop off for Matt Beadnell for County Comptroller.  In 2020 this GOP dominant district voted for John Mannion for Senate by a razor thin 2% and Joe Biden by over 9 points.  However, for congress John Katko won re-election by 15 points.  This indicates the non-enrolled voters are swing voters and reject more Trumpian conservative members.  This gives the Democrats an opportunity in OCL 6 if they can take advantage of the changing demographics as well as the swing nature of the district


The Democratic nominee for County Legislature in the 6th district is Diane Dwire.  Diane is a retired nurse and is well known in the district for her two Assembly runs and a former member of the Village and Town of Camillus boards.  As a health care professional and Democracy advocate she will also be looking to press Abbott-Keenan on her breaking her pledge on redistricting and voting against adding healthcare workers in a pandemic.  To follow Diane Dwire and help her campaign find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DianeForCountyLeg.  

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