Election Day Reflections
by John Delach
(I could explain that this blog was delayed by a trip to NH through snow squalls, or that I was hacked last Wednesday, but the truth is I forgot to publish it…and so dear reader😊
Congressman Peter King wrote this piece following his recent re-election. I believe it offers an insider’s view of our voting process. I am re-printing it for this week’s blog with Peter’s permission.
I wish all my readers a Happy Thanksgiving
Election morning was wet and overcast. Not ideal weather but not as bad as predicted. First stop that morning for Rosemary and me was voting at Seaford Manor School at about 7:20. Print and TV cameras were there for the ritualistic “candidate votes” photo.
Then it was on to GOP breakfasts to thank all the Committeemen, Committeewomen and Leaders whose job was to man the polls and get out our vote. The breakfast spots I hit were Massapequa South GOP at the Nautilus Diner on Merrick Road in Massapequa; Seaford GOP at the Waffle House on Merrick Road in Seaford; and Massapequa GOP at Paddy’s Loft on Hicksville Road in Massapequa. The mood was positive and upbeat. At each stop I thanked them for their efforts, said all looked good but we had to make sure we got out every possible vote.
I take no Election for granted but I was confident of victory — barring the unexpected. My polling (done by John McLaughlin, a great friend with first rate skills and instincts) had me in the mid-50s. Based on what John was seeing in his polling across the country, he told me my maximum would be 55% and that could be a reach. He said there was the real possibility of a Democratic surge in the suburbs and among minority voters. I had the daily double: a 34% GOP registration and a suburban district with 35% minority voters.
The first turnout report I received at noon was cause for some concern — Democrats were turning out much greater than in 2014 (the last off year Election) while the Republican vote – though up – was increasing at a lower rate.
In late afternoon I joined with State Senate candidate Jeff Pravato for campaign stops at Stop and Shops in Massapequa and Seaford (covered by Channel 12) and then the Seaford LIRR Station (covered by FIOS) where my daughter, Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, gathered about a dozen volunteers to hand out palm cards as I was asking the returning commuters to make it to the polls on their way home. The response seemed friendly and supportive. Also, I received the 5:00 turnout report that Republicans were coming out at a much-improved rate.
I made a few radio interviews, then went home to take a shower, put on a suit and get ready for the biennial trauma of the Election Night vote count — knowing that once the polls closed at 9:00 PM, there was nothing to do but wait and count.
Rosemary and I arrived at my Campaign Headquarters on Broadway in Massapequa about 8:30. It was already packed tight with supporters — and with media on a death watch to see if a 26-year Republican incumbent would be swept out in a Democratic Blue Wave. Ghoulish, but part of the business. Nothing personal they always say. (Or at least most of them say that!)
To add to the inherent Election Night confusion, the vote tally would be bifurcated. The Board of Elections in Suffolk County — which is 75% of the district — reports votes on-line as they come in and they would be displayed on a large screen on the side wall of the Campaign Headquarters. Since Nassau’s Board of Elections doesn’t report on-line, I must rely on local GOP leaders either hand delivering or calling in their vote totals to me. Roughly I knew that if I stayed within 4000-5000 votes in Suffolk and gathered my normal 60+% in Nassau, I would be fine. Suffolk hadn’t begun to report yet when I received the first votes in from Nassau at about 10:00 PM.– Seaford (69.5%) and Massapequa (71%). Suffolk started to report soon thereafter putting me about 51% for a while before finishing at about 47.6%, about 4,500 behind.
Each Nassau community — Massapequa Park, North Massapequa, Farmingdale, and Levittown — reported a solid majority. Our quick tabulation showed me at about a 64% total in Nassau with a winning margin of approximately 20,000 votes. (The official district wide vote would have me winning by a 15,000+ vote margin: 122,103 (53.3%) – 106,996 (46.7%). John McLaughlin had come within 1.7% of hitting it on the head!)
To play it safe, I waited until almost 95% of the Suffolk vote was in before deciding to declare victory at about 10:45. My outstanding Campaign Manager Anne Rosenfeld went to the podium at the rear of the Headquarters, faced the anxious media and announced that I had won. She then introduced my daughter Erin, who introduced me. With Erin, Rosemary and my son Sean standing with me, I thanked all my volunteers and said this was a victory for the heart and soul of the people of the 2nd District — pro-Police, pro-Military and pro-the hardworking middle-income families who have made and keep Long Island and America great.
(What I didn’t realize was that the media still didn’t have the Nassau County numbers and until almost midnight was reporting the race as too close to call.)
Rosemary, Erin, Anne and I then went to Nassau GOP Headquarters in Westbury where the enormity of the results hit me. Every Republican State Senator in Nassau County had lost and three of the four GOP Senate candidates in the 2nd Congressional District had lost.
Getting home to Seaford shortly after 1:00 AM, I watched the television reports, caught up on my emails and text messages and saw the full extent of the electoral carnage. Not only did Republicans lose the House, they got decimated in the suburbs nationwide — New Jersey, Philadelphia, Chicago, California, Minnesota, Dallas and Houston. Even my good friend Dan Donovan lost his Staten Island-Brooklyn District. Fortunately, Lee Zeldin and I kept the national wave from overtaking Long Island. It was time to get to sleep.
Democracy is a contact sport and was never intended to be easy. Principles and ideals and good people are worth fighting for. I’m proud to have once again fought the fight and am deeply grateful to the people of the 2nd Congressional District for having stood by me. I won’t let you down. The fight continues. God Bless America!!