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 #11 which is in most of the Town of Onondaga and a portion of southeast Camillus
At the time of redistricting Patrick Kilmartin (R), the majority leader of the County Legislature, was the incumbent legislator. This seat needed to add population as it was one of the smaller suburban seats. The GOP majority on the redistricting commission decided to leave in the portion of Camillus in the seat but add the rest of the Town of Onondaga taking away from District 12. Though this district avoided many of the weird shapes other districts fell victim to, it curiously did not add all of Onondaga. That is because they needed that portion of Onondaga to be able to connect Geddes to the valley in District 15. When drawn this gave OCL 11 a decidedly conservative configuration.
The district though has changed significantly as most suburban districts have. Democrats have grown significantly and have now taken a tiny plurality. Democrats account for 33% of the district while Republicans make up just 31%. Non-enrolled voters account for 29% of the registered voters coming within a couple hundred voters of overtaking the GOP. The Camillus portion of this district makes up 23% of the voting population while Onondaga takes up 77%.
This suburban district is showing dramatic change from the last redistricting, Democrats have gained 1,015 voters while the GOP has lost 443. Non-enrolled voters have also seen significant growth gaining 938 voters. Once again the suburban backlash to 2016 seems to be the catalyst for the growth of Democratic enrollment. However GOP enrollment has seen a steady decline since 2011. There is also a curious sharp drop off since last year as Democrats have stayed about even and non-enrolled have grown. This indicates a significant shedding of the party label on the R side of the electorate.
The Camillus portion of the district may be smaller, but it is driving the Democratic lean of the district. In the Camillus portion Democrats outnumber the GOP by nearly 200 voters and the non-enrolled is less than 100 voters behind. The Onondaga portion of the district is more even. Democrats only outnumber the GOP by 5 voters. The non-enrolled in Onondaga are still several 300 voters behind.
In 2011 Patrick Kilmartin (R) was challenged by Buffy Quinn (D). The newly formed district worked in the way it was designed by nearly doubling up the margin. Kilmartin won that race by 1285 votes. Maggie Mahoney (D) than challenged Kilmartin in 2013 and nearly halved that margin losing by only 677 votes. The Democrats did not offer a candidate in 2015 and then Kilmartin decided not to run for re-election to become a Town Justice. In 2017 in an open seat John McBride (R) ran against Chuck Keller (D) and the margin closed to just 408 votes. In 2019 running as an incumbent McBride bested Irene Workman (D) by 621 votes. In both McBride races though, the Democrats won vote totals on the Democratic Line versus the GOP line, and it was minor parties that brought McBride home. McBride was also working for then Senator DeFrancisco and Antonacci in his races and benefited from those connections.
The comparative races are our show a district that performs better for the GOP that county averages, but if you look at just suburban districts it is one of the better performers for Democrats. In 2019 Ryan McMahon won handedly in the district by close to 13 points, better than his overall county win margin but much less than his totals in another suburban district. The same story for Lisa Dell for County Clerk who won by 16 points, in a rare performance better than McMahon. Matt Beadnell only won this town by less than 3 points, showing the district rejects ultra-conservative Trumpian candidates. In 2020 Balter lost this district over 14 points with nearly 5 points on the WFP line, however again it performed better than another suburban district. John Mannion won a sizable victory for State Senate here winning by nearly 6 points. President Biden won this district by over 12 points. This shows this district to be a swing district and ripe for a Democrat to perform well in.
Ryan Suser (D) is the Democratic candidate for this district. He is a first-time candidate, lawyer, and family man. He successfully defended the Democrats when the GOP, including his opponent, tried to knock Working Families Party members off the ballot. Ryan can be found at Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RyanSuser & Twitter https://twitter.com/ryansuser & on the web at https://vote-ryan.com/