After that advantage, however, it is going to be a giant uphill climb for Astorino, and that is more about timing than anything else. New York City and State are both less prone to multiparty politics as they once were.
The Democratic Party, despite the close margins in the state senate, has strong electoral majorities throughout the state. Twenty-five years ago, Astorino would have had a better chance to win an election like this.
Cuomo may have lost some votes among gun owners and pro-lifers, but that may not be enough to constitute a jolt in his “negatives.” Astorino did win his race for Westchester County Executive, which is a huge feat, but statewide office is another ballgame.
A challenger needs two things when facing a nationally recognized incumbent. For one, the incumbent needs to have noticeably high negatives. Secondly, the challenger needs a rainmaker – an established political operative that can shepherd him or her into big fundraising territory.
If George Pataki did not have then-Senator Al D’Amato promoting him, he would never have been elected governor.
Astorino may be a very good candidate for governor, but he going to have to be more than just the “anti-Cuomo” in order to make this a race. He needs a nationally recognized political figure that will stand with him on this journey. He also needs the electorate to lose confidence in Governor Cuomo, which it has not.
Astorino, even if he gets to November and loses, stands a good chance at accomplishing one important goal. He can represent his party well in a statewide campaign. He can restore credibility to the state GOP even if the results in November do not tilt his way.
The state needs a viable Republican Party, and has lost ground in various districts on Long Island and upstate. Astorino, should he run a good campaign, can restore some muscle along the way, regardless of the outcome in November.
Bring Back Buybacks
In the early 1990s, part of then-police commissioner Bill Bratton’s crime-fighting strategy was sponsoring gun buyback programs. The city did this near the holidays, since people felt the need for extra money and might be more prone to selling their guns back to the government.
The last few years have seen fewer efforts like this, maybe because crime dropped so much since then. Without “stop and frisk” policies in the subway system, however, bringing a buyback program back might be useful.
When the police were able to stop people in the subway, they recovered hundreds of guns. With that policy now adjusted to reflect some of the controversies it caused, there needs to be another effort to get guns from people. Bratton has always been creative with policies such as gun buybacks, so it would be a lost opportunity to not try it again in light of the changes in policing.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s biggest areas of support are in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and parts of Manhattan, according to polling. These are also areas where a community-based temporary program like a gun buyback would be popular.
A lot of the political rhetoric has been focused on how the Michael Bloomberg years are behind us. Well, some of the things Bloomberg did were good for the city, and we should not be so quick to discontinue them all. An aggressive approach to getting illegal handguns off the city’s streets would be one of those wise approaches to public policy.