WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Democrat George Latimer declared victory over Republican incumbent Rob Astorino Tuesday night in the race for Westchester County executive.
With 30 percent of the precincts reporting, Latimer — who has been representing a Westchester district in the state senate — had 59 percent of the vote, compared with 41 percent for Astorino — who won the Republican nomination for governor in 2014.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, Latimer declared victory late Tuesday – but said he had not heard from Astorino. Democrats outnumber Republicans in Westchester County two to one.
Latimer said President Donald Trump’s unpopularity played a role in his success, but Latimer heard from voters they wanted change.
“I think it’s that people want to know that they have a government that responds to them and not just talks to them – talks down to them,” he told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.
Latimer also believes Astorino’s negative campaign ads backfired.
Taxes will be among the top challenges he’ll address, but he’ll take nothing for granted.
“This is not a blank check from the voters to me. This is a promisary note from me to the voters,” he said.
Latimer needed and received good turnout in Democratic strongholds such as Yonkers and Mount Vernon. His campaign said internal data showed Democratic votes way up across the county.
Latimer was outspent by hundreds of thousands of dollars and was the subject of negative ads, but he pushed back – portraying Astorino as a divisive backer of President Donald Trump whose values were out of touch with Westchester County, the home of Hillary Clinton.
Before becoming a state senator, Latimer was chairman of the county board of legislators.
Meanwhile at Astorino headquarters late Tuesday, the Republican incumbent had yet to appear. Astorino’s staff said the race remained too close to call and all the votes must be counted.
But some people in the ballroom of the Crown Plaza Hotel in White Plains were nervous, with one supporter telling CBS2’s Brian Conybeare, “It is over.”
Meanwhile, a ballot proposition for a New York state constitutional convention apparently brought out numerous union members who were worried that such a convention could reduce their pension benefits. The constitutional convention proposal was defeated.
Latimer maintained a double-digit lead throughout the night and at times was ahead by 20 points.
In 2009, during the rise of the Tea Party, Astorino defeated Democratic incumbent Andy Spano. Astorino also won reelection in 2013 against Democrat Noam Bramson.
But the first thing most Westchester County voters who spoke to CBS2 brought up was property taxes. Every year, Westchester tops the list of the highest property tax bills in the nation, and the high cost of living and whether people can afford it was on the minds of many voters.
Westchester County only controls about 20 percent of a homeowner’s property tax bill. The biggest hit comes from school districts and local municipalities.