6/23 Primary Preview Part I
NY Congress and State Senate - more to come
It’s election day, kinda sorta. Kentucky and New York both have their final day of in-person voting today, and they’ll be posting some results tonight. But those results will be far from final. Both states have said that they’ll be counting absentees, which should account for at least a quarter of the vote, but likely significantly more, in about a week’s time. If a candidate is winning with something ridiculous like 80-20 after tonight, they’ve won, but close races, even ones with otherwise otherwise solid double digits margins, won’t get called tonight. Or, rather, they shouldn’t - the AP has had an itchy trigger finger for mail-in elections.
We split this preview into two races, because a truly incredible amount is happening in New York and we didn’t want to send you a novel. Part I covers New York’s Congressional and State Senate races. Everything else, from New York Assembly, to municipal races, to a few things in Kentucky, will go in Part II, which we’ll send out in a few hours.
NY-03 North Shore of Long Island, northeastern Queens (Bayside, Glen Oaks, Little Neck)
Tom Suozzi (i) vs. Melanie D’Arrigo vs. Michael Weinstock
Tom Suozzi is awful, just awful. Absolute disaster. Pro-border wall, pro-ICE, member of the nihilistic Problem Solvers Caucus, just terrible all around. Republicans enjoy talking about contesting this highly educated, rapidly diversifying suburban district, but it stayed blue even in the Republican wave year of 2014, and that was before Donald Trump tanked the GOP brand in districts like this one. A Democrat like Suozzi is not necessary to hold this district. Enter Melanie D’Arrigo, a local activist from suburban Nassau County. Despite a lack of national attention (regrettable, given how conservative Suozzi is) D’Arrigo quickly won the endorsement of Indivisible, the anti-Trump activist group especially powerful in suburbs like these. She’s running a spirited campaign on progressive issues. The other Suozzi challenger, attorney Michael Weinstock, is not as progressive as D’Arrigo, but still significantly better than the incumbent; unfortunately, the two campaigns have ended up spending a lot of time sparring with one another.
Suozzi is favored, but it’s worth watching the margins here, particularly in Queens, as this district will likely move further into Queens when New York loses a congressional district (or maybe even two districts) after the 2020 Census reapportionment. And, as always, primaries are quite volatile, especially in these unusual circumstances; don’t rule out a D’Arrigo upset.
NY-05 part of Long Island, southern Queens (Jamaica, the Rockaways, Queens Village, Richmond Hill)
Gregory Meeks (i) vs. Shaniyat Chowdhury
Shaniyat Chowdhury is a democratic socialist, a veteran, and an alum of AOC’s 2018 campaign. He would be a great member of Congress (and incumbent Gregory Meeks is awful, endorsing Bloomberg for president, consistently standing out as one of the most corrupt members of Congress, and inheriting control of the Queens machine after boss Joe Crowley unexpectedly went down in that fateful 2018 campaign.) Unfortunately, he hasn’t taken off, and Meeks will likely coast.
NY-06 central Queens (Flushing, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Glendale)
Grace Meng (i) vs. Mel Gagarin (vs. Sandra Choi)
Democratic socialist Mel Gagarin’s challenge to House backbencher Grace Meng hasn’t gained much steam, sadly; like Chowdhury’s challenge in NY-05, it will likely serve as a test of the baseline anti-establishment vote in the district.
NY-09 central Brooklyn (Park Slope, Crown Heights, Flatbush, Brownsville, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay)
Yvette Clarke (i) vs. Adem Bunkeddeko vs. Chaim Deutsch (vs. Isiah James vs. Lutchi Gayot)
In 2018, former WFP organizer Adem Bunkeddeko nearly took down six-term Rep. Yvette Clarke in a campaign that wasn’t all that ideological--both Bunkeddeko and Clarke are progressive, but not socialist--and rather revolved around Clarke’s inattentiveness to her district. In an infamous moment, Clarke dismissed Bunkeddeko’s challenge during a debate:
“I understand that Ms. Clarke is upset by the fact that she has a competitive primary,” Mr. Bunkeddeko said at one point.
“Upset?” Ms. Clarke interrupted. “I’m laughing.”
Perhaps because of that attitude towards the very idea of putting in the effort, the New York Times endorsed Bunkeddeko over Clarke. High turnout--and impressive margins for Bunkeddeko--in affluent, white Park Slope nearly doomed Clarke, who only held on by dominating in the predominantly Black neighborhoods that make up most of the district as well as in the conservative white neighborhoods on its southern edge. Bunkeddeko is back for a rematch, once again with the Times endorsement (and now with the anti-Trump activist group Indivisible behind him), but unlike 2018, it’s not a one-on-one race. There are candidates complicating the picture for both Clarke and Bunkeddeko.
Clarke’s obstacle she must overcome this time around is the presence of City Councilman Chaim Deutsch in the race; Deutsch is an ultraconservative Democrat who threatens to peel off the conservative white voters who backed Clarke in 2018, particularly the large Haredi Jewish community in and around his city council district. He’s got enough money to get his message out, but there’s virtually no chance that a white conservative could actually win this district; the question here is whether he’ll play spoiler. But Bunkeddeko is also faced with a potential spoiler. Isiah James, a leftist veteran who moved to the district recently, is also running, albeit without much money or institutional support. However, in a race where every vote could make the difference, James’s impact could be significant. Andrew Yang acolyte Lutchi Gayot is also in the race, but it’s less clear who he’ll draw votes from.
NY-10 parts of Manhattan (Morningside Heights, Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, Greenwich Village, SoHo, Tribeca) and Brooklyn (Borough Park, Bensonhurst, Red Hook)
Jerry Nadler (i) vs. Lindsey Boylan (vs. Jonathan Herzog)
Lindsey Boylan entered the race against longtime incumbent Jerry Nadler, the powerful chair of the House Judiciary Committee, back in 2019, demanding that Nadler take an aggressive approach to oversight of the Trump administration, up to and including impeachment. After months of dragging his feet, Nadler did, in fact, impeach the motherfucker; while it was just about the narrowest impeachment possible, and while he’s made a joke of the idea of Trump oversight, he made it hard for a challenger whose best-known line of attack was impeachment. Boylan, to her credit, hasn’t let up on Nadler; her campaign pivoted to a more broadly anti-machine, anti-establishment message, a message perhaps complicated by her past in the administration of Andrew Cuomo (of whom she has since grown very critical) and her more recent donation to a moderate challenger to progressive Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, but a message nonetheless pursued with gusto. This race, like the 9th, is not particularly ideological, as Nadler is a solid progressive vote with the endorsement of everyone from the city’s Democratic establishment to AOC, and Boylan is similarly running on progressive policies such as Medicare for all, the Green New Deal, and targeting wealth inequality. It’s about how the Democratic Party should treat Trump’s Republican Party: only attack when it seems safe and inoffensive to do so, as is the practice of Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team (of which Nadler is a key part)? Or pull no punches, and fight to the fullest extent of the party’s ability?
NY-12 parts of Manhattan (Upper East Side, Garment District, Chelsea, Roosevelt Island, East Village, Lower East Side), Brooklyn (Greenpoint, Williamsburg), and Queens (Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside)
Carolyn Maloney (i) vs. Suraj Patel (vs. Lauren Ashcraft vs. Peter Harrison)
Suraj Patel’s well-funded challenge to Carolyn Maloney ended up falling well short of victory in 2018, but that didn’t stop him from trying again in 2020. For a number of reasons, the left is skeptical of Patel—he’s a wealthy hotelier from Indiana, not New York, who practiced weird campaigning tactics such as Tinder-banking and hired Lis Smith for his 2018 campaign. If his opponent wasn’t Carolyn Maloney—a hawkish anti-vaxxer who now chairs the powerful House Oversight Committee following the untimely death of the previous chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings—ignoring him would be an easy choice. With the presence of two genuine progressives in the race—DSA members Lauren Ashcraft and Peter Harrison—it’s also hard to stomach voting for Patel.
However, owing to name recognition from his 2018 campaign, he’s likely the only candidate with a chance of beating Maloney, leaving the voters of NY-12 with an unenviable choice. It’s hard to take sides in this race, but at least if Maloney loses, it will send shockwaves through House Democratic leadership. Patel faces some steep odds, however. He lost by 19% last time, and Ashcraft and Harrison should both take more from Patel than Maloney.
NY-14 parts of the Bronx (Parkchester, Throggs Neck, Morris Park, City Island) and Queens (Astoria, Sunnyside, Corona, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (i) vs. Michelle Caruso-Cabrera (vs. Badrun Khan vs. Sam Sloan)
Lol this is not an election. We don’t know what this is, exactly, some sort of performance art on the behalf of former CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera? Or maybe some sort of ironic magical punishment? Regardless, Caruso-Cabrera has made a name for herself in some circles as “the” primary challenger to AOC. She’s raised over $2 million, done the interview circuit, tweeted a bunch, showed up to debates, and generally acted like a candidate who’s running a real campaign. But even if voters were looking for an alternative to AOC- which they are not - Caruso-Cabrera’s gambit is transparent and laughable. She’s a Republican who’s built her brand as a CNBC talking head and a Tea Party/faux libertarian commentator. She moved out of Trump Tower and into Queens, switched her party affiliation, and filed to run for Congress. No one’s fooled, and it will be extremely satisfying to watch her go down. Well, sort of go down - she’s already secured access in the general election through a minor party ballot line.
NY-15 parts of the Bronx (Mott Haven, Highbridge, South Bronx, Hunts Point, Soundview)
Rubén Díaz Sr. vs. Ritchie Torres vs. Michael Blake vs. Samelys López vs. Melissa Mark-Viverito vs. Ydanis Rodríguez (vs. Chivona Newsome vs. Tomas Ramos)
What a clusterfuck. Honestly, just what a disaster.
You are probably familiar by now with Rubén Díaz Sr., a longtime New York City politician whose proud, unabashed, and unadulterated bigotry towards the LGBTQ+ community, and his religious extremism, has led him to support multiple Republicans, including Donald Trump. In most of the country, these views would totally sink a candidate in a Democratic primary. NY-15, however, has a sizable base of voters who have been regularly supporting Rubén Díaz Sr. for the last 20 years. As a minister who thoroughly mixes his political and evangelical identities, his base is religious and concentrated geographically. It’s good for 20% of the vote, but 30% would be pushing it. 40% would be damn near impossible. Really, his vote share isn’t much in question. Whether or not he wins depends less on how he does than on how his competitors do.
Luckily for him and unluckily for us, he has a lot of competitors. The one with the best chance of beating him is Ritchie Torres, a fellow City Councilor. For added symbolism in this race, Torres is openly gay. He has the support of a variety of establishment liberals, the New York Times, gay rights groups, and some labor unions. He’s also raised the most money by far, over a million dollars by March, which allowed him to stop raising money and begin actively campaigning, a strategy which was likely thought up when going outside was medically advisable.
Michael Blake is the only candidate in the race who isn’t Hispanic or Latino, and in a race with four City Councilors, the only member of the state legislature in the race. He’s an Albany politician in more ways than one. Which is to say he’s continually doing ethically dubious things that don’t quite cross the line of actual illegality - doing foreign political work while in the Assembly and without registering as a foreign agent, being less than forthcoming about his work history, taking taxpayer funded trips for his DNC job (allegedly), taking a government housing subsidy he doesn’t qualify for, working for a debt collector in addition to his six figure Assembly salary while owning tens of thousands in back taxes - all in the last few years. Blake is also the only outright moderate in the race, though obviously still worlds better than Díaz.
Blake is the choice of a handful of unions, including the powerful Transportation Workers Local 100 and the Nurses Association, the city’s largest union. His national political connections (he worked on both Obama campaigns) have earned him the support of a variety of national politicians, as well as the Congressional Black Caucus, a notable choice on their part considering that Torres and Díaz are Afro-Latino. Blake’s fundraising has been more than healthy, but indications are that he’s struggling to attract voters (this is foreshadowing for when we talk about that one poll)
Melissa Mark-Viverito and Ydanis Rodríguez are both City Councilors from Manhattan—Mark-Viverito from 2006 to 2017, Rodríguez from 2009 to the present. Neither live in the district, though Mark-Viverito did represent some of it when she was on the council. You can probably blame their candidacies on term limits, which is also why they both ran for Public Advocate last year. You can probably also blame Congressman Díaz on them if it comes to that. Maybe it’s not totally fair in Mark-Viverito’s case, as she at least has teacher’s unions and some money behind her, but Rodríguez is there out of what appears to be boredom.
Finally, there’s Samelys López. López was born in Puerto Rico, and moved to the Bronx at a young age, where she experiences poverty and bouts of homelessness. In recent years, she’s been a housing advocate, and while she’s been compared to AOC more than a few times this campaign, her years of work in the area constitute considerably more political experience than that comparison would imply. López has had one problem in this race, and that’s money. It wasn’t until recently that she began raising enough money to do basic things like run ads or send mailers out.
López, officially entered this race last, and within a few months had locked up one of the DSA’s few endorsements in the city. She then got an AOC endorsement, and surprising many, the Working Families Party, both in April. Bernie soon followed suit. This is, in some respects, surprising. DSA and AOC have been reserved in their endorsements and the WFP has generally picked their battles more against conservative Democrats than in pursuit of any particular version of leftism - they can’t afford to be the outsiders that groups like DSA are. Torres is, by most metrics, the candidate best positioned to avert the disaster that is Ruben Díaz, and is running as a progressive. So what gives - why is so much of the left taking this gamble?
Torres and López do have policy differences - most notably Torres’s AIPAC-esque views on Israel and Palestine. Otherwise, it’s a hedge on Medicare for All here, a somewhat less ambitious housing policy there, but nothing that, on the surface, seems disqualifying. No, the divide here is deeper than any particular policy stance.
Part of it is tactics. From the very beginning, Torres has been accepting vast sums of money, and even direct help, from the real estate industry, a villain of New York politics. That may have merely raised eyebrows in 2013, but in recent years, turning away real estate money has become something of a progressive litmus test. Torres finds the movement silly and arbitrary, and has continued to fundraise from the industry.
It’s not just money, however. The 2017 Right To Know saga is an instructive example. Torres was overseeing one half of a police accountability bill package, Right To Know, essentially mandating that police give you a business card and an official reason for stopping you whenever they do. It wasn't perfect, but advocates believed that it would break the stop & frisk mentality of the police, while making bad cops easier to track and identify. Police obviously hated the bill, and it looked like it was in trouble in the Council. So Torres mostly gutted the section.
The outcry was immediate. Criminal justice reform groups called him a sellout and a NYPD lackey. He responded by calling some "fanatical" and "demented". The Council Progressive Caucus openly opposed the bill, so he quit the Caucus. He was absolutely furious about the whole ordeal. Torres was, at the time, angling for Speaker, and that was the last piece of business before the new speaker would be chosen, which might explain his touchiness defending changes he didn’t seem to want in the first place.
Torres went through a period of resigned cynicism about government after that. He notably endorsed Joe Crowley for re-election. But after AOC’s victory, he says he had a revelation that working outside of the establishment was possible, and the “ring-kissing” he’d been engaging in of late wasn’t necessary, and so he rejoined the Caucus and reasserted himself as a progressive politician with big plans. Some appreciated his gesture and willingness to admit fault, but to others it was proof that he was a weather vane politician, hitching his wagon to whatever faction seemed ascendant. He never really got close again to the New York City left after that. When the DSA was holding their extensive endorsement process, he didn’t even bother to apply, unlike Melissa Mark-Viverito, who had just as uneven a time in the Council as he did, if not moreso.
López, then, represents not just a lack of compromise on policy, but a chance to elect someone who has always been part these groups, and will be a ready partner to them in Congress, as opposed to Torres, who would be a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus but whose commitment is doubted, as is his willingness to work with groups in the NYC left and advocacy world.
The one public poll we have of this race (coming from Data For Progress), shows a Díaz-Torres race, with Díaz at 22%, Torres at 20%, Blake, Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Rodríguez at 6%, and López all the way back at 2%. However, this particular poll has a lowish sample size, a web methodology in a district with low internet penetration, and field dates from a month ago, meaning this is a fuzzy picture of the race today. Even still, this is worrying, and not just because Díaz is ahead (worse with leaners - a rough allocation of them gives 29% Díaz to 22% Torres), but also because Torres was dominating the ad space in May. This poll was taken before the other non-Díaz candidates started aggressively introducing themselves to voters (although in the case of Mark-Viverito and Rodríguez, their Public Advocate runs seem to have helped on that front). If we take Díaz voters as unlikely to be swayed from him, that’s bad news.
The only other public poll released of this race was from Planned Parenthood, which was taken much more recently and notably included favorability numbers for both Torres and Díaz, but no horserace numbers. Maybe they simply didn’t ask, but if not that’s an odd choice, and it seems at least plausible that they found a Díaz lead and chose not to release it. The fact that the url literally says “memo_2.pdf” suggests that possibility as well.
There’s one final thing (we say like 2000 words into a supposed quick summary of this race). New York City has a ballot system where multiple minor parties are allowed access, and often choose to run a placeholder in the primary and then award their line for the general to the actual nominee. The Working Families Party will be doing this, which opens up an intriguing possibility. Suppose Díaz wins the Democratic primary. They could choose to award their line to López (anyone really, but probably López) and then have her run a campaign for the general election. There’s, of course, no guarantee of success. How does the Bronx machine react? How about national Democrats and statewide Democrats? But it’s a solid backup plan, if the WFP is willing to go for it.
NY-16 southern Westchester County (Yonkers, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Rye) and parts of the Bronx (Riverdale, Spuyten Duyvil, Woodlawn, Williamsbridge)
Eliot Engel (i) vs. Jamaal Bowman (vs. Sammy Ravelo vs. Chris Fink)
Just a month ago this race was quiet, and the general assessment was that Jamaal Bowman was running a strong, if longshot, campaign and was one of the many progressives whose chances were being disrupted by the pandemic. But you know what happened next. Engel got ugly headlines for staying in Maryland and lying about being in his district. So he traveled back to do an event with Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr., where he uttered the words that may cost him his job: “If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care”.
This is the most important race of the night, a practically epic battle between progressives and the establishment, who have rushed to back their candidates in this race. Take last week as an example of how this race has been since that event. We’re not going to rehash all that here, but it feels like the entire political world is descending on this race. The Democratic Majority For Israel PAC is now up to $1.55 million in expenditures for this race. Working Families Party and Justice Democrats combine to $1.33 million. Aside from that, Engel himself has raised over $819,000 since 6/3, in addition to the $826,000 he already had on hand, and Bowman raised over $251,000 in addition to his $345,000 already on hand--and all of these numbers are only including contributions over $1,000, as those must be reported to the FEC immediately when received after the pre-primary report but before the primary. Donations under $1,000--which should be a strength for Bowman--won’t get reported until July. In other words, these numbers are almost certainly a severe underestimation of the amount of money raised in the final stretch, particularly for Bowman. This race is expensive. What more can we say, but that we wish the ballots were going to get counted this week?
NY-17 Rockland County and northern Westchester County (Peekskill, Tarrytown, White Plains, Chappaqua)
Mondaire Jones vs. David Carlucci vs. Evelyn Farkas vs. Adam Schleifer vs. David Buchwald (vs. Allison Fine vs. Asha Castleberry-Hernandez)
This race is another multi-candidate extravaganza, and Mondaire Jones is the only acceptable one of the bunch. More than acceptable. As one conservative writer, terrified, warned: “His vision for America is more radical than AOC, Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, all of whom endorsed him. His goal is best described as give everything away for free and let corporations and the rich pay for it. The fact that the numbers don’t add is irrelevant.”
Buddy, we wish. Jones may not live up to that standard, but as a supporter of Medicare, Housing, and College for All, he’d be a great member of Congress. He’d also be the most progressive representative from the suburbs, and a sign that leftists don’t need to stick to the city to win.
The three main threats in this race are David Carlucci, Evelyn Farkas, and Adam Schleifer. David Buchwald, an Assemblyman from Westchester County who has much of the county machine behind him, but lacks money and is polling poorly, it seems like he’s been squeezed out of this race, though not as badly as NARAL president Allison Fine and realtor Asha Castleberry-Hernandez.
Of those, Carlucci is the worst: a nominal Democrat who spent almost all of his time in the Senate caucusing, as part of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), with the Republicans to give them control of the chamber and block any Democratic bill they wanted. His main pitch has been his (negatively impactful) experience, and luckily it appears that his early lead, built on name recognition, has receded as he’s been unable to raise the money to compete with his competitors, and his IDC history has become a popular punching bag.
Evelyn Farkas is a typical natsec ghoul who was on Russia duty in the State Department under Obama until her hardline views on military force in Crimea led to her exit (it’s unclear whether she left voluntarily or not). She gained prominence among MSNBC types after an incident in 2017 where Republicans were too dumb/didn’t care to read exactly what she said in some private correspondence and thought it was confirmation of spygate (remember spygate? We wish we didn’t). She’s quite the hawk, which in our media environment means that you can be wrong as often as you want without consequence. She’s also advertising fairly heavily, financed with defense industry money.
Adam Schleifer is the son of a pharma billionaire Leonard Schleifer (who, by the way, donated to Engel last year). He grew up rich, went to Columbia as a triple legacy admission, and then became a prosecutor. Then he decided to run for Congress, and really put dad’s money to use. He’s so far put $4,617,000 of self-funding into the race, (plus another $16,800 from his family and another $27,600 from his dad’s employees). He’s absolutely blanketed the airwaves with sleek, well produced ads that fail to land much of an impression. Even the notoriously deferential to the wealthy New York Times questioned his transparent attempt to buy a Congressional seat. He’s touchy about the whole “self-funding millions of dollars to win an election,” and has not only accused EMILY’s List of anti-semetism for a mailer saying “Adam Schleifer is trying to buy this election”, but got some of his dad’s employees to write a truly embarrassing op-ed saying that it’s actually good that he’s financially invested in big pharma.
So who’s going to win in this battle of progressive vs. “experience” vs. Russia brain vs. money? We have two polls. One from Data For Progress, taken 5/28 to 6/3, found Carlucci in a narrow lead on the other three. Earlier internals had had him up solidly. At the time, Carlucci and Schleifer had higher name recognition than the other two, but voter opinions on the two were mixed and neither had broken out of the pack. The second, commissioned by a local Democratic town committee and conducted by PPP, shows Jones in a lead but a quarter of voters still undecided. Carlucci’s union support should be worth something at the margins, and Schleifer’s last-minute endorsement from leaders of the Hasidic Communities in Rockland County, who usually vote as a bloc, could be worth a few percent. It’s a total tossup, in other words.
NY-25 Rochester and suburbs
Joe Morelle (i) vs. Robin Wilt
This Rochester race has been largely ignored even though it had, on paper, promising elements. In 2018, Joe Morelle, at the time House Majority Leader and in deep with all the sleazy characters that implies, won a surprisingly soft 46% of the vote in the open race for this seat. One of his three competitors ran again this year: Robin Wilt, a member of the Brighton (pop. 36,000) Town Board who got 17% of the vote in 2018. She has the endorsement of a few progressive groups, the local DSA, and Juamaane Williams, but unfortunately she never raised much money, and her $70,000 personal contribution is pretty much all she has. It’s unfortunately looking like a Morelle blowout
SD-12 parts of Queens (Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Glendale)
Mike Gianaris (i) vs. Iggy Terranova
Mike Gianaris is one of the few Queens politicians who has adapted well to the decline of the Queens machine. After Joe Crowley, the longtime Queens boss and Gianaris’s friend, lost to AOC, Gianaris embraced her, and he began to back up his long record of progressive votes with forceful, public-facing advocacy. He played a pivotal role in preventing Amazon’s HQ2 from opening up in Long Island City (a neighborhood he represents), using his status as the area’s senator and his perch as Deputy Majority Leader in the newly Democratic-controlled New York State Senate to push back against Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $3 billion giveaway to the world’s richest man. When Gianaris was nominated to a regulatory board that may or may not have had the authority to reject the HQ2 plan, Amazon gave up and devoted their full HQ2 efforts to Virginia, where there was less organized opposition to state-sponsored corporate bribery.
Regardless of Gianaris’s past with the machine, his opposition to HQ2, and his efforts to align with New York City’s ascendant left, earned him a challenge from the center. Unfortunately for the center, the best they could find was Iggy Terranova, a former Department of Sanitation official who may or may not actually live in a Nassau County suburb, is married to a registered Republican (registered at their Nassau County address, by the way), and is obviously running on behalf of Amazon and New York’s real estate industry. Gianaris is the favorite, as he should be.
SD-18 parts of Brooklyn (Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bushwick, East New York)
Julia Salazar (i) vs. Andy Marte
In an ugly, high-profile state senate race in 2018, democratic socialist Julia Salazar handily unseated state Sen. Marty Dilan, thanks largely to the impressive field operation cobbled together by NYC DSA. Salazar’s victory was all the more notable because Dilan was the only state senator outside of the IDC to lose renomination. This just made the machine angrier: while the machine had shamelessly protected IDC members, it was at least understandable, to the machine, that they got challenged. Sure, Dilan was transparently bought and paid for by the real estate lobby, and closely tied to the infamous sexual harasser/machine boss Vito Lopez, but he was smart enough not to caucus with the Republicans--and, as the machine’s thinking went, doing the bare minimum should be enough to earn you a seat for life. DSA and other local activists disagreed, and, as it turned out, so did Brooklyn voters. The Lopez machine is back for another round with Salazar, but the best they could cough up was Andy Marte, a thoroughly weird Trump supporter who worked for Lopez. For context, Lopez resigned from office in 2013 to preempt his expulsion from the state Assembly, unsuccessfully ran for city council that same year, and then blissfully retreated from public life. (He then died in 2015.) Salazar, like Gianaris, is thankfully a strong favorite for another two years in Albany.
SD-23 parts of Brooklyn (Coney Island, Bay Ridge) and Staten Island’s North Shore
Diane Savino (i) vs. Brandon Stradford vs. Rajiv Gowda
The anti-IDC wave in 2018 sadly missed Diane Savino, the deputy to IDC leader Jeff Klein. She was the only IDC member who easily won renomination; Carlucci, the other surviving member, had a close call in his own primary. In 2020, the Working Families Party decided they’d like to finish what the anti-IDC coalition started; unfortunately, they were unable to narrow the field down to just one challenger to Savino. Brandon Stradford has the WFP’s backing, but Rajiv Gowda is also running a serious campaign; the split field has kept activists from getting too invested in this race, and Savino is sadly favored for another term.
SD-25 parts of Brooklyn (Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Red Hook, Gowanus)
Jabari Brisport vs. Jason Salmon vs. Tremaine Wright
Democratic socialist Jabari Brisport ran a City Council campaign in 2017 on the Green Party ballot line; it seemed quixotic at the time, but when all the ballots were counted he ended up with nearly thirty percent of the vote. When Brisport declared his intent to run for state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery’s seat, whether or not she retired, it was clear he was a serious contender. She ultimately did retire, and two other candidates entered the race: Jason Salmon, a more mainstream (but still not bad) former Montgomery staffer, and Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright, the clear choice of Brooklyn’s embattled machine. Brisport won the backing of both DSA and the WFP, and his campaign has rankled the machine bosses already smarting from Clarke’s close call in June of 2018 and the September 2018 losses of Dilan and IDC senator Jesse Hamilton. (2018 was the last year in which New York’s primaries for state and federal offices were held on separate dates.) This race seems to be between Brisport and Wright, and Brisport is the one to root for.
SD-32 parts of the Bronx (Soundview, South Bronx, Parkchester, Concourse, Hunts Point)
Luis Sepúlveda (i) vs. John Perez
It’s hard to find much information on this race, but Perez, a district leader in AD-87, seems to be aligned with Rubén Díaz Sr. Yikes.
SD-38 most of Rockland County, Ossining and Briarcliff Manor in Westchester County
Eudson Francois vs. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick vs. Justin Sweet
This district, mostly in Rockland County, is being left open by Democrat-when-it’s-convenient David Carlucci, and it looks like a race between establishment favorite Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, a staffer of a nearby state senator, and a moderate who leads about 2:1 in the money race over Justin Sweet, the Town Clerk for Clarkstown (pop. 87,000), who takes a generally more progressive tack (as demonstrated by his WFP endorsement), but who has come under fire for attending some gun events. Reichlin-Melnick has, meanwhile, gotten a lot of help by means of a PAC funded by a conservative megadonor, New York real estate titan Richard LeFrak. Perhaps the biggest ideological divide in this race is that Sweet supports single payer in the state, while Reichlin-Melnick does not. Eudson Francois, a Haitian-born Trustee of Spring Valley (pop. 32,000) is in the race, but doesn’t have much of a campaign footprint.