They are anemically underfunded, largely unknown, politically unconnected and no one is predicting a surprise victory for them on Election Day. The districts they are campaigning in are so far into the category of “solid blue” that Charlie Cook really ought to create a “will snow in hell before voting Republican” category. Yet when Nate Silver starts making the case for a potential 70-seat loss for Democrats, there is bound to be a left-field, jaw-dropping congressional victory somewhere, and if it is in NY, there are three candidates who could pull it off.
Michael Faulkner for NY’s 15th Congressional District
Here is why Faulkner can’t win:
First of all, it’s Charlie Rangel, and although he is being investigated for ethics violations, he won a solid majority of votes in a packed primary this year. It was a win with a referendum in fact, as Rangel supporters voted to voice displeasure in having a member of the Black Caucus singled out for an ethics investigation.
Voter registration is 79% Democrat, 16% independent, and 5% Republican, and Rangel won re-election in 2008 by 88%.
Here is how Faulkner can win:
Charlie Rangel is both his best ally and his worst enemy. While Rangel may have won the primary with 51% of the Democrat caucus and a roar of defiant local support, there has been little attention paid to the 49% who voted against him. If Michael Faulkner is to win, this bloc of voters will need to either open up to the idea of voting Republican or be so disenchanted with Rangel that they stay home on Tuesday. Both options are very unlikely, and Nate Silver has Charlie Rangel at a 100% chance of re-election, but that is the very definition of a stunning victory. Win or lose, we just hope Michael Faulkner sticks around as a voice for conservative ideals.
Additionally, Michael Faulkner has a great story to tell his voters. While NY struggled to recruit strong candidates for the top of the ticket, there are a number of impressive congressional Republicans running at the bottom and Michael Faulkner is one of them. He is a former NY Jet, a pastor, a longtime community servant, and one of fifteen black conservatives running in this election season.
Leonard Roberto for NY’s 27th Congressional District
Why Roberto can’t win:
Brian Higgins won reelection in 2008 by 74% and is a six-year incumbent. He is far better known than Roberto and has a massive war chest. He also brings home loads of pork to the ports along Lake Erie.
Here is how Roberto can win:
Of the candidates I am mentioning, Leonard Roberto has the biggest chance of victory. While his candidacy is certainly a dark horse, the pathway to possible victory is not all that inconceivable, thanks to the candidacy of Carl Paladino. Paladino is an Erie County resident who is leading the top of the ticket for NY’s gubernatorial race and Roberto is likely to receive a big bump from it. Carl Paladino may be way down in the polls for NY, but he has a big lead of nearly 20 points in Erie County, NY-27’s largest population center.
Dr. Jill Rowland for NY’s 28th Congressional District
Why Dr. Rowland can’t win:
Rowland is running against Louise Slaughter, the chairwoman of the House Rules Committee and the architect or the “deem and pass” tactic that Pelosi threatened to use to enact ObamaCare. Slaughter won re-election in 2008 with 78% of the vote and has been in Congress since 1993. The district is thought to be so safe that the local paper had no reservations in touting Slaughter’s “deem and pass” as a positive for their endorsement.
Here is how Dr. Rowland can win:
Like Michael Faulkner, Rowland has a great story to tell, should anybody actually learn about it. She’s a dentist, a cancer survivor, and an articulate advocate for conservative principles. She’s slugged it out in a difficult campaign. How difficult? She was recently threatened by an armed assailant at a roundtable event.
NY-28 is an awkward district, which encompasses both the city of Buffalo and the city of Rochester. However, she’s well positioned as the Buffalo area resident, a nice foil to Slaughter who hails from the distant suburbs around Rochester. The city of Buffalo and Tonawanda are situated in Erie County and just as Lenny Roberto could benefit from Carl Paladino’s ballot position, so too can Jill Rowland.
As I stated before, these candidates are dark horses and their election prospects are far less likely than nearly a half-dozen close races leaning in the low double digits for Democrat incumbents. However, we are looking at a 15-point generic ballot advantage the day before elections and if the districts above could ever be won by a Republican candidate, these are candidates and this is the year it could happen.