Though New York Democrats agree Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will handily beat challenger Wendy Long in November, they're still bitter over her vote against raising the federal debt ceiling a year ago: That's the main finding in Patch's inaugural Blue Empire political insiders poll.
Nearly two-thirds of elected officials, party leaders, activists and other influencers surveyed last week criticized the Senator for breaking with the party in the 2011 vote following a drawn-out and highly politicized debate. The news comes after a report released Monday by the Government Accountability Office showed the squabble cost taxpayers $1.3 billion since the delay meant the higher borrowing costs for the country.
Nearly 28 percent of respondents surveyed said they somewhat disagreed with her vote, while 38 percent said they strongly disagreed. In contrast, 19 percent said they somewhat supported the move while 15 percent strongly supported it.
But that's not the only thing the Democrats disagreed on in our survey. When it came to pinning down the Senator's political leanings, 44 percent said they thought Gillibrand was a moderate, while 42 percent called her somewhat liberal and 7 percent classified her as very liberal. Only seven percent of respondents dubbed the Senator somewhat conservative, though Gillibrand was criticized for her conservative stances when Gov. David Paterson appointed her to fill the Senate seat vacated by Hilary Clinton in 2009, most notably her pro-NRA stance on gun control. The Senator has said her stance has shifted to the left since she joined the Senate.
Democrats were unified in backing Gillibrand's support of gay marriage, with 91 percent saying they agreed with Gillibrand and only 2 percent disagreeing in our survey.
In our first Blue Empire Survey, Patch sent questionnaires to 160 key party activists, elected officials and others from the lower Hudson Valley, Long Island, Brooklyn and Queens who agreed to anonymously give their opinions in a series of surveys between now and November. Patch this week received completed surveys from 47 people — or 30 percent of those surveyed.
Among those who have agreed to take part are several town supervisors, state Assembly members and Senators, county legislators, city council members, community board members and several U.S. representatives and congressional candidates.
When asked whether whether Gillibrand will win her first full term in November, 87 percent said they strongly agreed and 9 percent said they somewhat agreed that she'll best her opponent.
As for her challenger, Manhattan attorney Wendy Long, 50 percent of those surveyed said Republicans picked the best candidate to face Gillibrand. On the other hand, 42 percent said U.S. Rep. Bob Turner would have had a better shot to unseat the Senator. Only 8 percent said Nassau Comptroller George Maragos should have won the nomination.
The results are not surprising, since Long's power base lives largely in the more conservative areas of upstate New York, beyond Patch's New York footprint.
The Blue Empire Survey
Our surveys are not a scientific random sample of any larger population but rather an effort to listen to a swath of influential local Democatic activists, party leaders and elected officials in New York. All of these individuals have agreed to participate in the surveys, although not all responded to this week's questions. Surveys were conducted between July 18 and July 23, 2012.
Patch will be conducting Red Empire State and Blue Empire State surveys throughout 2012 in hopes of determining the true sentiment of conservatives and liberals on the ground in New York. If you are an activist, party leader or elected official and would like to take part in a weekly surveys that lasts just a few minutes, please email Henry@patch.com.)
Blue Empire Roster: Sue Donnelly, Town of Ossining Supervisor, Gwynn Schroeder, Civic Leader/Environmentalist, Al Krupski, Southold Town Councilman, Marie Domenici, Environmentalist/Former Political Candidate, Kara Hahn, Suffolk County Legislator, Christopher Hahn, Fox News Contributor, Kathy Matthews, Poquott Village Trustee, Arona Kessler, Vice President of Three Village Democratic Club, Jeanne Frankl, Chairwoman of East Hampton Democratic Committee, Christopher Kelley, Past Chairman of the East Hampton Democratic Committee, Eric Jurist, Voter, Claudia Borecky, North and Central Merrick Civic Association President, Michael Fagan, Long Beach City Councilman, Kevin Brady, Working Families State Assembly Candidate, Dave Denenberg, Nassau County Legislator, Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld, Brookhaven Town Councilman, Sylvia Kenard, 9th Congressional District Candidate, Jumaane Williams, NYC Councilman, Rhoda Jacobs, State Assemblywoman, Yvette Clark, U.S. Congresswoman, Mathieu Eugene, NYC Councilman, Renee Collymore, Party Leader, Olanike Alabi, District Leader, Walter Mosley, District Leader, Lucas Shapiro, Activist, Lincoln Restler, District Leader, Ede Fox, City Council Candidate, Raul Rothblatt, Prospect Heights Democrats for Reform, Nick Juravick, Kings County Democratic Committee Candidate, Carin Mirowitz, Prospect Heights Democrats for Reform, Peter Krashes, Neighborhood Activist, Gib Veconi, Kings County Democratic Committee Member, Danae Oratowski, Neighborhood Activist, Brad Lander, City Councilman, Velmanette Montgomery, State Senator, Craig Hammerman, Community Board Member, Joan Millman, State Assemblywoman, Marty Bernstein, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, Henry Butler, Community Board Member, Maressa Ellis, Grievance Chair of 79th Pct. Community Council, Annette Robinson, State Assemblywoman, Robert Cornegy, District Leader, Colvin Grannum, Executive Director at Restoration Corp., Michael Feiner, Bayside Hills Civic Association President, Eileen Feiner, Bayside Hills Civic Association Member, Steve Behar, Democratic Consultant, Warren Schreiber, Bay Terrace Civic Association President, Tony Avella, State Senator, Edward Braunstein, State Assemblyman, Jerry Iannece, Community Board Chairman and Assembly Candidate, Daniel Squadron, State Senator, Eric McClure, Community Board Member, Doug Gordon, Community Board Member, Aaron Brashear, Community Board Member, John Burns, Community Board Member, Ryan Lynch, Community Board Member, Lauren Elvers, Collins Windsor Terrace Alliance, Andrew Hevesi, State Assemblyman, Toby Stavisky, State Senator, Robert Calarco, Suffolk County Legislator, Howard Knispel, Former Candidate for Smithtown Town Council, Ed Maher, Chair of the Smithtown Democratic Committee, Wayne Horsley, Suffolk County Legislator, Karen Koslowitz, NY City Councilwoman, Cesar Zuniga, Community Board Member, Eric Adams, State Senator, Jon Schneider, Past Chairman of the Brookhaven Democratic Committee, Mary Collins, Huntington Democratic Committee Chairwoman, Jon Cooper, Suffolk County Legislator, Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, Nassau County Legislator, Steve Israel, U.S. Congressman, Judy Jacobs, Nassau County Legislator, Peggy May, Mineola Democratic Club, Keith Scalia, Former Candidate for Oyster Bay Town Supervisor, Patricia Maher, Activist, Ann Gallelli, Croton-on-Hudson Trustee, Bob Daraio, Ossining Trustee, Bill Hanauer, Ossining Mayor, Marlene Cheatham, Ossining Village Trustee, Don Peters, Former Yorktown Supervisor; owner of Sports Barn, Brendan Tully, Lawyer, Mike Kaplowitz, Westchester County Legislator, James Martorano, Attorney and former Yorktown Councilman, Kathleen Talbot, Peekskill City Councilwoman, Drew Claxton, Peekskill City Councilwoman, Mary Foster, Peekskill Mayor, Marina Ciotti, Chair of the Peekskill Democratic City Committee, Michael Kane, District Leader of the Peekskill Democratic City Committee, Richard Kavesh, Former Nyack Mayor, Steve Knowlton, Nyack Trustee, Doug Foster, Nyack Trustee, Jen Laird-White, Nyack Mayor, Audie Moran, Piermont Trustee, Nicole Doliner, Legislative Fiscal Analyst at Rockland County Legislature, Stephanie Hausner, Clarkstown Councilwoman, Paul Adler, Commercial Real Estate Professional, Joseph Coe, Young Democrats, Ken Zebrowski, State Assemblyman, Robert Dell, Orangetown Planning Committee Member, Andrew Stewart, Orangetown Supervisor, Christopher Smith, Orangetown Democratic Committee, Mark Svensson, Clinton Global Initiative University Mentor, Dennis Pilla, Mayor, Blanca Lopez, Activist, Gary Stracuzzi, Rye Town Chairman, Raymond Sculky, Rye Democratic Chair, Esteban Michaca, Hispanic Democrats of Westchester, Naomi Oppman, Former Democratic District Leader, Joe Dermin, Harrison Democratic Committee Chair, John Nonna, Mount Pleasant Democratic Committee Co-Chair and former Westchester County Legislator, Elise Kessler Mottel, New Castle Deputy Supervisor, Jean Farber, Mount Kisco Village Trustee, Peter Harckham, Westchester County Legislator, Mike Kaplowitz, Westchester County Legislator, William Serratore, Mount Kisco Democratic Chair, Andrew Falk, Democratic Candidate for the New York State Assembly, Victor Grossman, Chairman of Putnam County Democratic Committee, Paul Morini, Putnam County Legislature District 7 Candidate, Sam Oliverio, Putnam County Legislator, Marsha Waldman, Treasurer for Town of Carmel Democratic Committee, Jerry Ravnitzky, Member of the Carmel Democratic Committee, Neary Strong, Activist, Catherine Parker, Rye City Councilmember, George Latimer, State Assemblyman Running for State Senate, Rodney Brown, Democratic Party Chair, Steve Otis, State Assembly Candidate, Mark Lewis, Chair of the Democratic Town Committee, Miriam Danar, Activist, Peter Harckham, Westchester County Legislator, David Gabrielson, Bedford Town Councilman, Chris Burdick, Bedford Town Councilman, Jeffrey Morris, Lewisboro Democratic Committee, Yablon Bruce, Chair of the Bedford Democratic Committee, Paul Feiner, Greenburgh Town Supervisor, Peter Porcino, Ardsley Mayor, Peter Swiderski, Hastings Mayor, Tom Abinanti, State Assemblyman, Randy Klipstein, Activist, Mark Gilliland, Town Trustee, David A. Ford Sr., Black Democrats of Westchester, George Kevgas, President of Westchester Young Democrats, Reginald LaFayette, Westchester County Democratic Chairman, Beth Smayda, White Plains Common Council President, Thomas Caruso, John Martin, White Plains Common Council Member, Liz Shollenberger, White Plains Democratic City Committee Chair, Rita Malmud, Former White Plains Councilwoman, Benjamin Boykin, White Plains Common Council Member, Milagros Lecuona, White Plains Common Council Member, Peter Hoffman, Pelham Manor Committee Chair, Richard Fuller, Pelham Committee Chair, Ed Doty, Co-Chair of Pelham Democrats, Anne Field, Secretary of Pelham Democrats, Laura Morris, Pelham Village Trustee, Janet Gandolfo, Sleepy Hollow Village Attorney, Susan MacFarlane, Sleepy Hollow Trustee, Bruce Campbell, Sleepy Hollow Trustee, Drew Fixell, Tarrytown Mayor, Bjorn Olsson, Activist, Noam Bramson, Mayor, Marianne Sussman, Former, IDA Chairwoman, Barry Fertel, Councilman, Jared Rice, Councilman, Martin Sanchez, Business Owner, Anne McAndrews, Larchmont Mayor, Peter Fanelli, Larchmont Trustee, Jane Elkind Eney, Town of Mamaroneck Trustee, Abby Katz, Town of Mamaroneck Trustee, Nancy Seligson, Mamaroneck Town Supervisor, Kristen Stavisky, Rockland Democratic Committee Chair