Why the State Senate Matters

In 40 days Americans all over the country will head to the polls.  While the odds of a Democratic victory in both the Presidency and the U.S. Senate are getting better and better, Democrats cannot get complacent.  Here in New York there are several state senate races that could have lasting consequences for New Yorkers. On issues like rent regulation, hydrofracking, and campaign finance reform, it is the state senate that will determine our fate.

You may not think that the state senate races matter much, when compared to the Presidential race, but consider this: it was the Pennsylvania state legislature that passed the odious voter ID law, which was then signed by PA’s Republican governor; it was the Wisconsin state legislature that stripped collective bargaining rights from public unions; it was the Arizona state legislature that passed one of the harshest immigration laws in this nation’s history.

All of that was not an accident; it was part of a concerted effort by a consortium of Republican lawmakers and corportations known as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to take over the state houses one by one and enact their conservative agenda.  As Bill Moyers explains, “[i]n state houses around the country, hundreds of pieces of boilerplate ALEC legislation are proposed or enacted that would, among other things, dilute collective bargaining rights, make it harder for some Americans to vote, and limit corporate liability for harm caused to consumers — each accomplished without the public ever knowing who’s behind it.”

None of this is actually a secret, mind you.  ALEC’s own website explains that the group was formed as ”[a] nonpartisan membership association for conservative state lawmakers who shared a common belief in limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty.”  You see these lawmakers realized that the key to transforming America into their conservative utopia was to begin at the state level.  Thirty years later, their plan is coming to fruition.

Here in New York we have an opportunity to fight back.  The Republicans currently control the State Senate by a 33 to 29 margin.  If the Democrats can hold on to their seats while picking up 3 seats, we will regain control of the state legislature.  But we need your help.

The Manhattan Young Democrats has already sent volunteers to canvass for State Senate hopefuls George Latimer and Justin Wagner.  This weekend our friends in Queens will be knocking on doors for incumbent Joe Addabbo, and next week MYD will be heading to Brooklyn to help Andrew Gounardes unseat Marty Golden.  To get involved, shoot us an email, or RSVP to one of our upcoming events.