Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in November stunned Democratic circles across the country and put Queens on high alert. Regardless of which side of the political spectrum voters occupied on Nov. 9, 2016, few expected the GOP presidential candidate raised in Jamaica Estates to pull off the biggest upset in modern times.
Still stung by the defeat of Democratic contender Hillary Clinton, Mayor Bill de Blasio and other Democratic officials have urged voters to go to the polls for Tuesday’s primaries which happen to be Democrat-only contests in Queens.
Clinton won the popular vote with 3 million more ballots than Trump rolled up, but she failed to win the electoral votes she needed to claim the White House.
In late August, de Blasio, who has an easy primary, visited Maranatha Baptist Church in Queens Village to warn parishioners “when you don’t vote, you can have unintended consequences.”
He was beating the bushes to get voters out to the polls for city primaries that are occurring in an off-year without a presidential candidate to stir up some excitement. This isn’t even a mid-term election year and low turnout could produce some unwanted surprises.
The Democratic primaries in Queens will decide, in most cases, who wins the office since there are few Republican or other party challengers.
New York state has an abysmal track record on voting. In 2016 – the Clinton vs. Trump year – New York was ranked 41st in the nation in turnout with only 57 percent of eligible voters going to the polls.
In Bayside last week City Councilman Paul Vallone, who is facing a primary, state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein and state Sen. Toby Stavisky went to the railroad station to caution commuters not to take the primaries for granted and to let their votes do the talking.
Even Gov. Andrew Cuomo has gotten into the act in Queens, where he was raised.
The governor, who is not known for handing out multiple endorsements, particularly in primaries, has thrown his weight behind five Queens Democrats. He has not endorsed anyone in the other boroughs.
He backed Council members Paul Vallone vs. Paul Graziano, Elizabeth Crowley vs. civic leader Bob Holden and Peter Koo vs. investment banker Alison Tan. Cuomo also endorsed Community Board 12 Chair Adrienne Adams to fill Ruben Wills’ empty seat and Assemblyman Francisco Moya against Hiram Monserrate.
Queens has some very tight races. If you want to make a difference, get out there and vote to protect yourself against that queasy feeling of “What if?” because the election results could turn out to be a shocker.