It wasn’t all that long ago that supporting nuclear power as a Democrat in New York State was an easy way to lose an election.
“In 1992 I was in a three-way race for the State Assembly,” said Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, whose opponents in that race were a high school math teacher in his fifties and a “self-described ’50’s housewife,” according to Cahill. “We sat before the active Democrats of our community. And the question came up about nuclear power. And the moment it came up, I knew I was going to be the last person standing. Because they both said they were O.K. with it. And my community was definitely not.”
Mr. Cahill, who represents much of Ulster County and the area around Rhinebeck, in Dutchess County, stressed that his win was “coincidental.” Even so, the sentiment remains powerful: supporting nuclear power did not earn votes.
That’s changing somewhat—although it should be said, not much in the Hudson Valley, which is home to numerous environmental groups and represented by one of Indian Point’s most visible opponents, Representative John Hall.
“It’s split,” said Assemblyman Michael Gianaris of Queens, one of very few local elected Democrats—and perhaps the only one in New York City—who openly supports expanding nuclear energy. “It used to be all against, and now it’s become split.”
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