Editorial: Prolonged 2010 elections will bring about quick change

With Republican congressional candidate Randy Altschuler’s concession Wednesday morning, the protracted 2010 election drama has finally reached dénouement. Incumbent Tim Bishop will be back on Capitol Hill next year for his fifth term, becoming the first eastern Suffolk congressman to reach that mark since Riverhead’s Otis Pike retired in 1978 after nine terms. Our representative isn’t changing, but Congress certainly is.

Change is also coming to Albany. County Legislator Dan Losquadro’s victory over incumbent Assemblyman Marc Alessi puts that seat back in the GOP column, where it had been for as long as anyone can remember. State Senator Kenneth LaValle scored a double victory of sorts in November. Not only did he keep the seat he’s held since 1977, he’ll start the next legislative session with far more power and pull than he’s had the past two years.

The last two state and federal election cycles certainly proved the truth of that old chestnut, “the only constant is change.”

Mr. Bishop can take pride in knowing that he survived the GOP juggernaut, but he’ll be in the minority again when the 112th Congress convenes. What will that mean for this district? Locally, probably not much. The Democrat survived his toughest race yet based largely on his reputation as a tireless champion for the East End. There’s no reason to think that will change. But with the House in GOP hands and the Democrats still holding a slim majority in the Senate, and with a presidential election only two years away, we shouldn’t expect any sweeping legislative initiatives akin to the much praised and much maligned health care bill.

Good or bad? That depends on your political persuasion.

While the LaValle race was put to bed early on Election Night, other Senate contests dragged along à la the Bishop-Altschuler fight. Just this week we learned that the GOP has taken back the Senate majority it lost two years ago.

Once again, Albany will be controlled by a Democratic governor and Assembly with a Republican Senate. What should we expect? With Governor-elect Cuomo calling for deep budget cuts to trim a yawning state deficit, economics will merge with politics, perhaps more so than ever, to drive the agenda.

Change took the HOV lanes to both capitals this year, but with the restoration of the old political order, it’s back to the future in 2011. This should be interesting.