To take control of the U.S. Senate and the New York State Senate in this season of political discontent, Republicans had to give voters targets. President Barack Obama and Mayor Bill de Blasio were perfect foils.
Only one of them yesterday said he heard the message.
Presidents in their sixth year usually have bad results in midterm congressional elections, but Tuesday’s rebuke was particularly stinging for Obama. It wasn’t the Affordable Care Act that whipsawed him.
It was voters disillusioned with his leadership.
Yet there are two years left for him to forge bipartisan solutions on immigration, taxes, energy and infrastructure. Obama held the longest news conference of his tenure Wednesday to say he’ll do just that. There are two years on the clock as well for the GOP — whose Senate success is attributed to not running whackos. It must prove its congressional majorities can partner in governing. Obama’s meeting with congressional leaders Friday is a start.
In New York, the state GOP ran against de Blasio and he naively gave them ammo when he said his brand of liberalism should spread statewide. His face and agenda were depicted menacingly in attack ads targeting Democrats.
The mayor — who gave hundreds of thousands of dollars and trusted staff to Democratic candidates — said Wednesday he would try for better results in 2016.
But he’ll likely pay a steep price for his failure this year to win a Democratic State Senate majority. Progressives in the de Blasio wing want to hike the minimum wage, push back charter schools, keep rent control laws strong and perhaps tinker with the city’s public school reforms of the last 12 years. Those goals got a lot harder on Tuesday.
De Blasio seems not to grasp that while New York is a progressive state, it’s not the deep blue that colors his world. Right now GOP legislators are the only ones giving voice to economic concerns in the suburbs and upstate.
That’s why they now have 32 of 63 State Senate seats.
Balancing the needs of all New Yorkers is why Gov. Andrew Cuomo — who governs from the middle — was re-elected. And it’s why he’s thrilled that de Blasio gave him a GOP Senate that will allow him to continue to do so.