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No shakeup in New York State congressional delegation races

Neither party made gains in New York State’s congressional delegation Tuesday as races that once seemed like potentially easy pick-ups for Democrats turned out to be uphill battles instead.

Democrats held onto 18 of the state’s congressional districts. Republicans will keep the nine seats they held in the House of Representatives.

Four districts were up for grabs after the sitting representatives announced they would not seek re-election. In each of the races, the outgoing lawmaker’s party held onto the seat. Incumbents defeated their challengers in the state’s 23 other congressional districts.

In the Syracuse-based 25th district, Republican Rep. John Katko was expected to face a tight battle against Democrat Colleen Deacon, a former aide to Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y. But Katko managed to build his own brand as a prosecutor-turned-independent Republican, and he reinforced his image with his frequent criticism of Trump’s bombastic statements en route to his victory over Deacon.

In the North Country’s 21st district, Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik did much the same thing, voicing cautious support for Trump, saying: “I’m supporting my party’s nominee, but I’ll continue being an independent voice for the district.”

She beat her opponent handily.

In the Hudson Valley’s open 19th Congressional District, Republican John Faso declared victory after polls showed him with a close lead over Democrat Zephyr Teachout. Republicans will maintain the majority they have held in the House since the 2010 election.

The battle for House seats in New York State ended up being, in many cases, a series of surrogate races mimicking the presidential race. As Donald Trump maintained or even grew his popularity in wide stretches of upstate New York and even the eastern end of Long Island, races that once seemed like potentially easy pick-ups for Democrats turned out to be uphill battles instead.

“Initially, it looked like the Democrats had a half dozen real pickup opportunities in New York,” said Nathan L. Gonzales, editor and publisher of the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report. “It’s a good example of how Donald Trump doesn’t have the same impact down-ballot on every House district.”

The Democrats’ difficulty in constructing a blue wave across New York’s House seats proved to be just one of the obstacles to their goal of retaking the House in 2016.

Most notably, Democrats lost a large number of state legislatures in 2010, and those new Republican state legislatures drew new district lines favoring their own party in state after state after the 2010 census. As a result, the number of competitive House races nationwide this year, according to most analysts, was less than 60 – and a huge majority of those competitive seats leaned Republican from the start.

Republicans will maintain the majority they have held in the House since the 2010 election.

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