Wonky Wednesday:  Onondaga County Legislative District #12

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 #12 which covers the southeast portion of Onondaga County including Tully, Pompey, Fabius, Lafayette, the lower portion of Dewitt and a tiny portion of Manlius and the City of Syracuse.


At the time of redistricting Robert DeMore (R) was the legislator representing this portion of Onondaga County.  He decided not to run for re-election, this along with the reduction of two seats gave the GOP majority on the redistricting commission opportunities to reshape some districts to stack and crack Democratic areas of the County.  Though this district avoided the weird shapes other districts fell victim to it was altered in significant ways.  The Onondaga portion of the district was removed to shore up OCL 11 and since the district had a strong GOP lean, they put a sizeable portion of Dewitt and the South Campus portion of the City of Syracuse into the district.  This diluted those Democratic areas pairing it with rural GOP dominated portions of the county.


The district is not as blood red as it once was.  The GOP only has a small plurality of the district holding 34% of the voting population.  The Democrats have closed the gap and have 32% of the voting population and non-enrolled make up 27%.  This district is spread amongst 7 towns making it one of the most diverse districts in the county.   The largest portion of the district population resides in Pompey with 28% and Dewitt portion making the second largest portion at 26%.  Lafayette has 19%, Tully 11%, Fabius 7%. And the tiny portions of Manlius 5% and Syracuse 4%.  


The adding of Democratic areas to the district has resulted in a district that has changed dramatically.  The GOP has held steady only losing 274 voters.  The Democrats have gained 1265 voters in the district.  The non-enrolled has gained significantly as well with 820 voters.  This shows that as populations grow once rural and suburban areas are becoming either Democratic or non-enrolled and the GOP has a shrinking plurality.  Newer voters are either enrolling in the Democratic party or not enrolled at all and the older GOP population is shrinking through attrition.


This district really is a story of two halves.  The northern more Democratic part of the district dominated by the annexed portion of DeWitt and the small portions of Syracuse and Manlius represent the Democratic part of the district.  The GOP part of the district is dominated by Pompey and Lafayette with Fabius and Tully as well.  However if we look under the hood we see the GOP towns of Pompey & Tully have had increases in their Democratic population cutting into the blood red portion of the district.


In 2011 Dave Knapp (R), the supervisor of Lafayette was selected to fill the open seat in the newly formed District 12.   Philip Benedict (D) ran a campaign against him, but it was not well funded, and Knapp won easily by 1490 votes.  The Democrats then did not run anyone against Knapp for the next three elections.  In the meantime, he rose to majority leader and then Chairman of the legislature when Ryan McMahon became county executive.    Jennifer Blusk (D) ran a vigorous race in 2019 focused solely on redistricting but still lost by 1298 votes.


The comparative races show a district that is much more moderate than it would at first look.  While McMahon won for County Executive in by a little over 10 points this was about ton average as his win countywide, but far under other suburban districts.  Dell won by 10 points for County Clerk and Beadnell 4 points for County Comptroller, again underperforming their wins in other parts of the county.  In 2020 Balter only lost this district by 9 points with 4 on the WFP line.  This district shares NYS Senate districts but the Democrats of May & Mannion ran even in this district.  Joe Biden won this district by 12 points.  


Dr. Sunny Aslam (D) is the Democratic candidate for this district.  He is a first-time candidate, doctor, and father.  He has already made significant waves by outraising his opponent and mounting a vigorous campaign. Dr. Sunny can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ElectDrSunny and on the web at  

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