From a progressive activist and organizer:
NY9: The state of the economy and Middle East politics clearly played a role here. But candidates themselves really do matter. If you pick a candidate based on who can be controlled and not who has the best chance of winning, you are bound to get beat. Unfortunately, this has become a pattern with Queens County.
AD54: Vito wins, but he should be worried. The Democratic line got less than 50% of the vote in a very Democratic district. The machine is vulnerable. Make the Road is now a real player in Brooklyn politics and they are not going away. Neither, one suspects, will Jesus Gonzalez. Stay tuned.