Queens residents helped Obama win swing states

Photo by Rebecca Henely
By Rebecca Henely

Doug Forand, of the political consulting firm Red Horse Strategies, told a New Visions Democratic Club meeting last Thursday that grassroots strategies and organizing kept President Barack Obama in office and helped many Democrats keep or maintain office on Election Day.

“A remarkably good day that a lot of people didn’t see coming,” Forand said of the election. “We did it against a wave of money that a lot of people thought might be insurmountable.”

While considered a state that would go solidly blue, New York Democrats were instrumental in keeping Obama’s momentum by stumping in other states, Forand said.

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), who won re-election, spent much time in swing states on behalf of Obama rather than campaigning for himself back home.

“People in New York called Pennsylvania, they called Ohio. They called Florida,” Forand said.

He spoke of what the results of the election would mean for Democrats in 2013 and beyond at the club meeting, held at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights, at 37-06 77th St. The New Visions Democratic Club serves the 39th Assembly District Part A, which includes Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Corona, and is led by City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) and Jessica Ramos.

“We won,” said Dromm. “We won big and I’m very proud of that.”

Red Horse Strategies, headquartered in Brooklyn, has run campaigns for many prominent Queens elected officials, as well as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign. Forand said Obama’s campaign against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney benefitted from maintaining the grassroots structure that got him elected in 2008, plus keeping the campaign energized through boots on the ground campaigning, social media and fund-raisers. Forand said this was what helped Obama earn his victory despite the presence of Super PACs.

“Money does matter in politics, but it can only go so far,” Forand said.

With Mayor Michael Bloomberg and many Council members approaching the end of their term limits, Forand said 2013 in the city will have many active campaigns. He said he was confident more Democrats would be elected and said many residents want a government that provides schools, parks and health care.

“To me, we have a progressive city,” Forand said.

Looking forward to the next presidential election, he said likely candidates on the Democratic ticket could be Cuomo, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, but the Republican ticket looks much murkier.

When asked, he said Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, previously a favorite to be Romney’s vice president, could have a chance, but it could be problematic if the GOP establishment remains angry at him for working with Obama in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy and then praising the president.

“As much as the Republicans want to vilify government, we need government,” Forand said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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