Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch, the owners of Koch Industries, are the founders and funders of a number of conservative and libertarian political organizations, and credited with swinging control of the House of Representatives in 2010.
This year, when it comes to the United States Senate, the Kochs will spend heavily in all the obvious places: Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania (all places where Democrat incumbents face reelection in states that Donald Trump won).
The Kochs would be wise, too, to substantively field a candidate for United States Senate where the Rust Belt meets Wall Street, here in the not-so-great State of New York.
The so-called experts say that New York is deep, deep blue with a Democrat enrollment advantage that cannot be overcome — especially given the liberal bent of the New York City media market. The State hasn’t had a Republican in the US Senate since Alfonse D’Amato left office in 1999. He held his Senate seat since 1981 when Jacob Javits, the liberal Republican, retired.
State Senator Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo) is in the mold of New York’s successful Republican candidates: erudite, accomplished, moderate in style, compromising in tone, and serious on issues, in keeping with other centrists who have proven viable statewide. In a political climate where voters are exhausted by the extremes, 2018 could be the year of the assertive moderates.
Of course any Republican win would require splitting the vote on the left — which is certainly doable in a year when Kirsten Gillibrand has undermined her own reelection effort with the tactless faux pas of having already announced her 2020 presidential ambitions.
If Gillibrand, a protege of the Clinton political machine, faces a New York City area challenger from the left — perhaps on the Green or Working Families lines — the race becomes immediately viable for any Republican, more so for one who embraces the ‘liberal Republican’ brand. Candidates this year will ride the anti-tax (but socially liberal) vote in the suburbs of New York City, where property and income tax conscious constituencies are expected to vote in heavy numbers this cycle.
If well funded and well executed, a moderate Jacobs on the Republican line will win much of Upstate New York, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, and the Hudson Valley. Gillibrand will perform strongly in the Hudson Valley, Manhattan, and parts of Long Island, but Gillibrand is not particularly embraced by New York City’s minority communities.
A Democrat with a strong New York City identity-politics constituency on a third party line, makes the race a three way toss up.
Tim Wu, the Columbia University Law Professor who was Zephr Teachout’s running mate, is of particular concern to establishment Democrats. The Asian American community is a powerful and monied constituency in New York, and has been yearning for political representation in recent years.
Letitia James, the New York City Public Advocate, the second highest ranking public official in the city, is being privately encouraged to seek the seat by New York City area political operatives, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, Curtis Ellis, and Melissa Harris-Lacewell. A source says they aim to push the State Party and the United States Senate further to left.
State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick are seen as the strongest possible challengers to Gillibrand, but they doubt either can be convinced to wage a challenge against the fellow Democrat.