Wonky Wednesday:  Onondaga County Legislature 15th 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 #5 representing southwest portion of the City of Syracuse as well as portions of Onondaga and Geddes.

At the time of redistricting William Kinne {D} was the legislator representing this portion of Onondaga County. Due to health reasons Kinne did not run for reelection   This allowed the GOP majority on the redistricting commission to really alter this district. It may oner of the  weirder shapes the committee came up with.  And it benefited a committee member, Ryan McMahon. Ryan was the current third district councilor in the City of Syracuse and represented that portion of Syracuse. However, they needed to wed portions of the suburbs of Syracuse to the district to make it more palatable to win and keep this district. So, they clipped off the university portions of the district and added Geddes as well as a pathway through the Town of Onondaga.

This has always been a Democratic enrollment heavy district but has grown dramatically the last few years. Democrats have 46% of the voter enrollment of the district, a strong plurality. Republicans have just 22%, non-enrolled currently outnumber the GOP in the district with 255 of the voters. Split between three towns the district is mostly inside the city with 50% of the voters. Geddes has 40% of the district, and Onondaga just 10%.

As the GOP base has eroded inside the city this district has become more Democratic over time. At the time of inception, the district was Democratic but not overly so. However, Democrats have gained 1197 voters. The GOP enrollment has plummeted losing 992 voters. The non-enrolled has gained modestly with 477 voters. This has turned a purplish district to an overwhelmingly blue one.

The City of Syracuse is driving the Demographic changes in the district. Democrats dominate the city portion with overwhelming Democratic enrollment is driving the partisan lean in the district. The Geddes and Onondaga portions of the district were added to the district to balance it out but even here Democrats have taken leads. The suburban towns have been leaning Democratic and that is demonstrably worse the closer you get to Syracuse. The portions of OCL 15 that stretch into Geddes includes Solvay and the borders of Syracuse. The same is true of the portions of Onondaga.

In 2011 Ryan McMahon ran for the district he helped draw, and miraculously he won. He was able to win his first race against Mark English by 911 votes. Upon winning Ryan McMahon was voted as Chairman of the legislature with all the new legislators supporting the man who helped draw their districts.  In 2013 Ronnie Bell (D) lost to McMahon by 1364 votes as McMahon’s profile grew with his new position. In 2015 Timothy Rudd (D) tried to take a shot at unseating McMahon and lost by 1413 votes. By 2017 McMahon; s stature had grown so much that the Democrats decided not to run anyone against him. However, when Joannie Mahony left her office before the end of her term Ryan McMahon was appointed. fellow GOP legislators to yet another promotion, this time County Executive.  He then Named Miles Bottrill (R) a similar moderate GOP politician who used to e on the city council in hopes of defending the seat. However, Bill Kinne {D} had decided it was time to re enter the political fray and run for his old seat. He won the district by 822 votes and flip the seat to blue in a similar fashion to OCL 7 in 2017. When the popular GOP incumbent left the district the demographics of the district swung back to the Democrats.

The comparative races show a district that almost always swings to the Democrats, with one obvious exception. Considering Ryan McMahon represented this district it is no surprise he posted a 10-point win here when running for County Executive. However, the County Clerk race was a 12-point win for Democrats and Beadnell lost the Comptroller race in this district by an astonish. g 24 points.  In 2020 Democrats dominated this district. Balter won the congressional race by 11 points, Rachel May won the Senate trace by 28 points and not to be outdone Joe Biden won this district by over 34 points.

Bill Kinne (D) is running for re-election in this district. He is often one of the more vocal critics of the previous occupant of the district and fighting for Democratic legislation. You can find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/billkinneisrunning and on the web at https://vote4billkinne.com/.  

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