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Owens supporters and staff reacting to hearing Bill Owens announce that Matt Doheney had just called him to concede the election. Photo: Mark Kurtz
Owens supporters and staff reacting to hearing Bill Owens announce that Matt Doheney had just called him to concede the election. Photo: Mark Kurtz

NY21: What does Owens' win say about the district?

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Brian Mann has reported and blogged throughout the 21st District congressional race. He joined Martha Foley on the line Wednesday morning, after a long night, to talk about what Owens' win Tuesday night says about the electorate.

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It was a late night last night, and I have to say that I think all of us were a little surprised when Matt Doheny conceded shortly after midnight.

I think the outcome of this race was itself a little bit of a surprise to many observers, including myself. And then, yes, I think with the vote, 4000 votes roughly apart, and many, many, many absentee ballots, roughly 16,000 absentee ballots not yet counted. Obviously the mass was very tough against Matt Doheny, but yes I was surprised when he abruptly said that’s it, I took my best shot, and I’m ready to move on.

Let’s consider Matt Doheny’s question….about just how Republican this district is at this point. What are the returns from last night indicate to you about that?

Well, first of all I’d want to say that I think it means my theory earlier this week that there was a bit of a conservative backlash going on in this region, I think I got it wrong, just plainly, and bluntly wrong. I think that this is a very moderate region.

The Republicans who are in this district are Rockefeller, kind of purple, middle of the road Republicans. They voted very strong for Janet Duprey last night in her 115th Assembly District race, soundly rejecting a Tea Party candidate there. And more broadly, these are Republicans who register with the GOP, they're traditional with the GOP, but they’re very comfortable voting for a Kirsten Gillibrand, or Andrew Cuomo, or Bill Owens, going for Democrats who they are comfortable with.

And so as Matt Doheny points out, that creates a very narrow path for a Republican movement that is divided between the moderates in the region, and the Tea Party faction that’s been very noisy the past few years.

Well I have to say Brian that you were not alone among pundits in being surprised by the tide across the nation last night. You think that the national numbers are reflected here as well?

I do. I think it’s, there is definitely a shift here, and I think the Republican Party, there’s a conversation about this on the inbox, our blog today at NCPR.org, the Republican Party has moved into some very dangerous political territory, not just alienating minorities and many women with some of their policy ideas. But also advocating policy ideas that a lot of even white voters, mainstream voters are just struggling with.

Rejection of the scientific argument for climate change is a really good example. This is something that scientists are universal in their acceptance of, and yet you have the mainstream Republican Party just simply saying we refuse to believe the science.

And so when you add those things up, the whiteness of this party, the fact that it hasn’t embraced the new demographics of America, combined with that stubborn resistance to some of these modern ideas. I do think that were seeing a GOP really at the crossroads, really going to have to do some soul searching here going forward.

Listen to or read Brian Mann's story on Owens' victory here.

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