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Andrew Gounardes has registration and the political wind on his side in his race to unseat the better-known and better-funded Marty Golden.

New York City is usually a mere spectator to national elections. The Empire State hasn’t gone Republican in a presidential race in 34 years and we’ve had two Democratic U.S. senators for two decades. Most legislative contests in the five boroughs, whether for the state or federal level, are not competitive.

But depending how the rest of the state and nation shape up on November 6, this particular Election Day could out southern Staten Island and Brooklyn in the driver’s seat of national and state politics. The race between incumbent Republican Dan Donovan and challenger Max Rose could help determine control of the U.S. House, while the contest between Republican Marty Golden, seeking his ninth term, and Democrat Andrew Gounardes might be critical to deciding which party runs the State Senate.

Indeed, Gounardes told 112BK on Tuesday afternoon that after his primary victory, his campaign was flooded with volunteers—in part because of excitement over his candidacy, in part because it’s just about the only show in town.

The conventional playbook to defeat Golden, an affable retired cop who has racked up seven easy re-election victories in a district with a two-to-one Democratic registration edge, would seem to be to aim for the center, make hay out of Golden’s gaffes and hit the “we need new blood” theme hard. After all, this is a district that Barack Obama won in 2008 but lost in 2012.

Gounardes has instead run a fairly progressive race—supporting congestion pricing, LGBTQ rights, reproductive freedom, new investment in parks and reforms like early voting.

Six years ago Gounardes gave Golden about the closest thing to a challenge the incumbent has ever received. But it wasn’t that close. Much has changed in six years, however, about the demographics of some neighborhoods and the prevailing political mood. Election Day might show us exactly how much.

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