LITTLE VALLEY — Cattaraugus County Democrats asked themselves what on earth happened after last week’s stunning 16-1 loss to Republicans on the Cattaraugus County Legislature.
Republicans had a 12-5 majority going into the Nov. 5 election. They picked up a Democratic seat in Olean, a seat in Salamanca and two seats in Allegany.
The only Democrat to win was David Koch of Salamanca, who was seeking re-election to a third four-year term.
Democratic officials cite a couple of things that helped Republican candidates at their expense besides their 5,000 person enrollment edge.
County Democratic Party Chairman Frank Puglisi of Freedom said a last-minute robo-call featuring President Donald Trump seem to have helped fuel the Republican rout. The calls made reference to standing up to national Democrats trying to impeach the president.
“We got Trumped,” Puglisi said.
Some Election Day texting to voters emphasized their vote for local Republican candidates would be a vote against New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Puglisi told the Olean Times Herald. One text said: “Vote Republican to get Cuomo out.”
Puglisi said he said the fingerprints of the new New York State Republican Party Chairman Nicholas Langworthy, the former Erie County GOP chairman.
Another difference between the 2019 election and four years ago was that there were fewer local contests to drive Republicans to the polls to cast votes for County Legislature and the other countywide contest in 2015, the county clerk’s race that was won by Democrat Alan Bernstein.
The voter turnout for the 2015 election was only 17 percent, less than half of the turnout last week, which was about 38 percent, according to the Board of Elections.
Cattaraugus County Republican Party Chairman Robert Keis Sr., of Mansfield said he was unaware of the Trump robo-calls reported by Puglisi. “There may have been (some Trump calls) but I am not aware of it. No one has mentioned it to me. I didn’t get any of those calls.”
Keis added: “I don’t think a phone call from Donald Trump would make that much of a difference. I think people had made up their minds much before Election Day.”
Keis said that besides having “very, very good candidates, Republicans “had the mood of the country and the socialist ideas of Democrats” in mind when they voted.
“I can’t imagine it (Trump vote) had much of an impact,” Keis said. “County Legislature races were mostly several hundred votes apart. People in Cattaraugus County are pretty good in getting out to vote.”
There may have been some text messages to voters urging them to vote Republican to send a message to Cuomo, but Keis said he wasn’t aware of them and didn’t get any such texts. “And I don’t think a recorded phone call on Election Day did any difference.”
He said, “The Republican base is fired up about the Mueller Report and the Democrats impeachment inquiry. The Democrats can’t get over the face he (Trump) whooped them. Even if they impeach him, he won’t be convicted in the (Republican) Senate.”
Puglisi said the Trump calls “absolutely increased the turnout for Republicans. They did it at the 11th hour. There was no responding to it. The Trump robo-calls really got people out.”
The anti-Cuomo texts also caused a spike in Republican voter turnout.”
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)