NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Challenger Liz Fried handily defeated Incumbent Shari Rackman, by a two-to-one margin, in the Democratic Primary for District 6 in New Rochelle yesterday.
With 100% of Election Districts reporting, Fried had 489 votes 67% to Rackman’s 239 votes (33%).
After the election Fried issued a statement:
“I congratulate Ms. Rackman on a spirited campaign, and I am gratified and humbled by this overwhelming show of support from throughout District Six. I look forward to serving all the people of our community, regardless of party. This vote sends a strong message that we need to work together to move New Rochelle forward.
Rackman issued a statement as well:
“I would like to congratulate my opponent. Obviously I am disappointed in the numbers but take a great deal of pride in the fact that so many residents took the time to join me, and stand with me, in sending the message that many New Rochellians are not pleased with their representation in the City. Taking on city hall and the Bramson machine was not an easy endeavor - but nonetheless we feel victorious and hope that going forward our elected officials will no longer be intimidated and reluctant to vote their conscience and speak their mind - and if that is the end result, then we won.”
Noam Bramson said he looked forward to “partnering with Liz as a colleague on the City Council and am delighted that her outstanding experience and ability were recognized by so many voters.”
Bramson’s remarks not only may be premature but are definitly premature. Fried is not on the City Council yet and may never be.
First, she will have to win a General Election in November against the incumbent, Shari Rackman.
Rackman informed Talk of the Sound earier today that she has been offered the Reform Party line and intends to accept that line today to be a candidate for City Council from District 6 on November 3rd.
There was also an Opportunity-to-Ballot on the Republican line in District 6 and Rackman received an as-yet undetermined number of write-in votes. Rackman says she has not been offered that line but would “seriously consider it” if it were offered to her.
Rackman may be buoyed by the fact that despite Bramson’s characterization that Fried’s victory was a “landslide”, turnout was quite low, possibly effected by rain on Election Day.
Total votes cast was 728. District 6 has 4,448 Democratic Party voters so just 16% of party members voted. Of those Fried picked up 489 votes or about 11%.
Out of the entire District 6, there are 9,091 registered voters of all political stripes so just over 8% of the electorate voted yesteday, out of which Fried got 5.3%.
These are tiny numbers and that leaves a lot of votes still on the table == and the math favors Rackman who will can be expected to pull 1/3 of Democrats plus almost all, if not all, Republicans and Conservatives and a large percentage of Non-Registered and Independent Party voters.
To break this down, note that District 6, at the start of the campaign in June 2015, had 9,091 registered voters:
- Conservative Party: 94
- Democratic Party: 4,448
- Green Party: 10
- Independence Party: 278
- Republican Party: 1,954
- Working Families Party: 10
- Non-Registered (no party affiliation): 2,287
That last line, voters with no party affiliation, is the wild card in the race and what makes a District 6 race different than it was just two or three election cycles ago. The percentage of voters in District 6 not registered with either major party has been growing steadily over the years.
In a scenario to analyze voters that might be "available" to Rackman in a General Election, a majority of the registered voters could well be “Rackman Favorable” voters. Bramson would be well aware of this and hence the desire to deter Rackman from running on any another line.
As a starting point, take a scenario where she gets the same percentage of Democratic Party members she got in the primary, 36%. That gives her 1,600 voters that a traditional opponent to the Democratic Party nominee would get in District 6. What if then 100% of Conservative Party and Republican Party members lean towards Rackman. 75% of Non-Registered voters lean towards Rackman, she splits the Independent Party voters evenly and gets none of the Working Family or Green Party members. Under this scenario, 5,508 registered voters “lean Rackman”, just over 60%.
These numbers can be tweaked endlessly but what they show is that there is a deep pool of District 6 voters available to Rackman.
This reality will give Bramson fits.
This analysis supports 2013 voting results when Bramson ran for Westchester County Executive and lost to Rob Astorino. Jim Maisano’s County Legislature District includes some Election Districts in District 6 where he did better than Astorino. If you take those districts and add them to the Astorino numbers in the other Elections Districts within District 6, those numbers show a vote close to 50% against Bramson. Some of that was driven by Astorino popularity but also a latent and previously unseen anti-Bramson vote which hardened over widespread opposition to the Forest City development plan for Echo Bay. It is here that Rackman has her biggest opportunity because the entire reason Bramson ran a primary candidate against her is her opposition to the Echo Bay project.
She would need to make that a focus of her campaign -- reminding voters that she stood with them against Bramson, under incredible (some say, abusive) pressure from the Mayor.
The Astorino race is interesting. Bramson won New Rochelle by 53-47 after winning election as Mayor two years earlier, in 2011, 79-21. There were various factors including a popular, well-funded incumbent and the Echo Bay deal among them. But another big factor was that the Astorino-Bramson race was the first opportunity in many years for long-disaffected, anti-Bramson voters in New Rochelle voters to get a “win” against Bramson in the same way voters came out to support Ron Tocci over Bramson in 2002 in a race for New York State Legislature. Once anti-Bramson voters saw a level playing field they were encouraged to get out and vote and punished Bramson at the polls, part of a County-wide humiliation of Bramson whose political career outside New Rochelle is widely seen as "dead".
Rackman has a very good shot at winning by building on her “Profile in Courage” opposition to Echo Bay, taking with her a third or more of Democratic Party voters and exploiting the “Bramson Fatigue” so in evidence in 2013 when Bramson only narrowly won New Rochelle against Astorino (and got trounced elsewhere).
And for this reason, tremendous pressure will be put on Rackman not to run against Fried in a general where she would be the odds on favorite to win.
From talking to Rackman today, she is definitely running so this is going to get real interesting, real fast.