Primaries are not over with absentee ballots in play
by Benjamin Fang
Jul 01, 2020 | 3274 views | 0 0 comments | 197 197 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In New York’s first primary election since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, several members of Congress representing Brooklyn and Queens are hanging onto small leads, while others coasted to victory.

New Yorkers voted for their party’s nominees for president, Congress, State Senate, Assembly and other local races last Tuesday. However, the full results of many contests will not be known for weeks.

According to reports, about 765,000 absentee ballots were sent out to voters. While some races have already been called by the Associated Press, including the Democratic presidential primary for former vice president Joe Biden, many other federal and state contests will come down to absentee ballots.

In Queens, first-term congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez overwhelmingly won the primary over three challengers, including the well-funded Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a former CNBC anchor.

Ocasio-Cortez garnered 27,460 votes, or 72 percent, while Caruso-Cabrera received only 7,393 votes, which was a little over 19 percent.

At a virtual primary night event live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube, Ocasio-Cortez said her victory was not an accident, but rather a mandate.

“It’s not just about winning or losing, but so much of this is about how we win,” she said. “To win with that kind of mandate is transformative, and it tells us that our policy positions are not an accident.”

Other congressional incumbents who won their primary races include Gregory Meeks, Nydia Velazquez and Grace Meng.

Meng, who faced off against progressive first-time candidates in Mel Gagarin and Sandra Choi, received 15,181 votes, or roughly 61 percent.

“I have dedicated my career to fighting for the working families of Queens and improving our communities,” she said in a statement, “and I’m ready to take our fight back to Washington.”

Clarke, Maloney face second-time challengers

Two longtime representatives, Yvette Clarke and Carolyn Maloney, are fending off challenges from candidates they faced only two years ago.

In New York’s 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, Clarke, who has served in the House for seven terms, maintains a sizable lead over her four male challengers. She has received 37,106 votes, which is roughly 62 percent of the vote.

Coming in second is Adem Bunkeddeko, a community activist who challenged Clarke in 2018 and came within 2,000 votes of winning. This time around, he joined three other candidates in activist Isiah James, Councilman Chaim Deutsch and Lutchi Gayot, which hurt his chances of topping Clarke.

So far, Bunkeddeko has received 10,647 votes, close to 18 percent. Although her victory is not official, Clarke thanked her supporters in a note posted on Twitter.

“I am still taking it all in, and your trust is motivation enough to continue the work we started,” she wrote. “I look forward to being a strong, vocal and active advocate on your behalf in Washington.”

In New York’s 12th Congressional District, which includes the east side of Manhattan, Long Island City and Greenpoint, Maloney is leading against Suraj Patel by less than 650 votes.

Maloney got 16,473 votes, or 41.5 percent, while Patel, an activist, businessman and former Obama administration official, got 15,825 votes, close to 40 percent. In 2018, Patel also won roughly 40 percent of the vote.

Two other progressive challengers, Lauren Ashcraft and Peter Harrison, received 13 percent and 5 percent of the vote, respectively.

In a statement, Maloney said her campaign was an opportunity to not only highlight her record of accomplishment, but also future opportunities for police reform, expand assistance for those impacted by COVID-19, and holding President Donald Trump accountable.

Patel, meanwhile, said in a statement that he is “confident in our path to victory.”

“Over 58 percent of New Yorkers have rejected the incumbent’s politics of the past,” he said. “We have a mandate for change, and the final tally will reflect that.”

Richards leads Queens BP race

In the Democratic primary for Queens borough president, Councilman Donovan Richards emerged on top with 41,915 votes, or 37 percent of the vote.

Former Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who received many union endorsements, is currently second with 31,781 votes, or 28 percent.

Coming in third was Councilman Costa Constantinides, who received 17,164 votes, or 15.2 percent, followed by former NYPD Sergeant Anthony Miranda, who got 16,613 votes, or 14.7 percent. Businessman Dao Yin only got 5,028 votes, good for 4.5 percent.

In a statement, Richards said he was encouraged by the results coming in, but also wanted to ensure that every vote is counted.

“I commend my competitors for running a good race that put the issues affecting our borough at the forefront of the campaign,” he said.

Crowley also congratulated her opponents “on a hard-fought race” in a statement posted to Twitter.

“As I remain patient and optimistic until every last vote is counted, I know that no matter what the outcome of this primary, I will continue to fight for the people of Queens,” she said.

Progressives could win big in state races

Several candidates backed by left-leaning organizations like the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and the Working Families Party are on the verge of unseating incumbents in the State Legislature.

In the 36th Assembly District in Astoria, incumbent Aravella Simotas, who has represented the area since 2011, is trailing housing counselor and activist Zohran Kwame Mamdani.

Simotas won 3,639 votes, or 46 percent, while Mamdani, who is supported by the DSA, has 4,228 votes, nearly 54 percent.

Assemblyman Michael DenDekker, a six-term incumbent representing Jackson Heights, Woodside and East Elmhurst, has fallen behind challenger Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, the executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.

Gonzalez-Rojas, who received the support of progressive groups like Make the Road Action, New York Communities for Change and the New York Working Families Party, received 2,514 votes, or 40 percent.

Meanwhile, DenDekker got 1,417 votes, or 23 percent. Three other challengers, Joy Chowdhury, Nuala O’Doherty-Naranjo and Angel Cruz, received 15 percent, 14 percent and 8 percent of the vote, respectively.

In a statement, Gonzalez-Rojas said she is “honored and humbled” by the primary election results so far.

“While we wait to ensure that every absentee ballot is counted, I feel deeply encouraged by our strong lead,” she said.

In the 38th Assembly District, which covers parts of Glendale, Ridgewood, Woodhaven, Ozone Park and Richmond Hill, challenger Jenifer Rajkumar is poised to unseat longtime Assemblyman Michael Miller.

Rajkumar, an attorney, adjunct professor and former Cuomo administration official, captured 2,624 votes, which is more than 52 percent of the ballots.

Miller only received 1,300 votes, or 26 percent, while a third challenger, queer poet, activist and educator Joey De Jesus, received 1,108 votes, or 22 percent.

In District 31, which runs from South Ozone Park down to Arverne and Far Rockaway, community activist Khaleel Anderson is on pace to become the youngest member in the Assembly.

At 24 years old, Anderson is leading a field of six candidates vying for a seat that was vacated by former Assemblywoman Michele Titus. Backed by groups like the Working Families Party and Rockaway Revolution, Anderson received 2,888 votes, or 38 percent.

Other candidates included Richard David, who got 28 percent of the vote, and Lisa George, who won nearly 19 percent.

In Brooklyn, the 25th Senate District, which includes neighborhoods like Red Hook, Boerum Hill, Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant, public school teacher and DSA member Jabari Brisport is leading among three candidates with 17,113 votes, or 52 percent.

The current incumbent, longtime lawmaker Velmanette Montgomery, is stepping down and endorsed Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright in the race. However, Wright received 13,301 votes, or 40 percent.

A third candidate, Jason Salmon, a former staffer for Montgomery, won 2,278 votes, or 7 percent.

Some Assembly incumbents holding onto leads

Despite the success of several progressive or democratic socialist challengers in state races, many incumbents appeared to hold onto their seats against formidable opponents.

Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, representing the 35th Assembly District in East Elmhurst, is leading against disgraced former councilman Hiram Monserrate, who made yet another bid for public office. Aubry is in the lead with 3,355 votes, or 64 percent of the ballots.

In Long Island City, Ridgewood and Woodhaven, Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan is ahead of two progressive challengers and first-time candidates, Mary Jobaida and Danielle Brecker. Nolan, a longtime representative for the area, has received 4,314 votes, or 52 percent.

Flushing Assemblyman Ron Kim has all but defeated challenger Steven Lee, an NYPD sergeant from the 109th Precinct. Although the race got personal and dirty with accusations of cyberbullying, Kim won 2,112 votes, or nearly 70 percent.

In a statement, the Flushing lawmaker declared that he won “a decisive majority” of the votes cast on Election Day, and said he’s fully confident his victory will be affirmed after all absentee ballots are counted.

“We will continue building on the legislative achievements and progressive milestones we have built over the years,” Kim said, “and keep working to make New York a fairer and more prosperous place for all.”

In north Brooklyn, longtime Assemblyman Joseph Lentol is ahead of challenger Emily Gallagher with 6,608 votes, or 57 percent. Gallagher, a community activist, won 4,845 votes, good for 42 percent in the 50th Assembly District.

Despite trailing, Gallagher said on Twitter that the race is far from over.

“We have very good reason to believe absentee ballots will break in our favor,” she wrote. “But we need to be diligent that they’re fully and fairly counted.”

In the 43rd Assembly District, which encompasses parts of Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Assemblywoman Diana Richardson is well on her way to beating former State Senator Jesse Hamilton, who was ousted two years ago.

Hamilton, a member of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), attempted to make a political comeback but fell short. Richardson won 8,885 votes, or 71 percent, while Hamilton received 3,516 votes, or 28 percent.

“The voters of the 43rd Assembly District know that I will never stop fighting for them,” Richardson said in a statement, “because they know my heart is in this community.”
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