Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/2558 Sun, 23 Sep 2018 18:06:47 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) A Closer Look at Voter Turnout in 2018 New York Congressional Primaries http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7774:a-closer-look-at-voter-turnout-in-2018-new-york-congressional-primaries http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7774:a-closer-look-at-voter-turnout-in-2018-new-york-congressional-primaries joe crowley voting

Rep. Joe Crowley votes (photo: @JoeCrowleyNY)


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s upset primary defeat of Representative Joe Crowley has sent shockwaves through both the New York and national political worlds.

The 28-year-old Latina democratic-socialist who has never held elected office and refused money from corporate PACs stood in stark contrast to Crowley, a 56-year-old, ten-term Congressional representative who was a prolific Democratic Party fundraiser, served as the chair of the Queens Democratic Party, and was seen by some as the next Democratic Speaker of the House.

Ocasio-Cortez’s win is being partly attributed to her campaign’s organizing, strong ground game, and significant social media presence, as well as its embrace of progressive policies such as ICE abolition and single-payer healthcare. She didn’t merely upset Crowley, she won handily, by a margin of 57.5 percent to 42.5 percent.

Maps compiled by the CUNY Center for Urban Research show that support in the election that has the country buzzing did not break down neatly on racial lines; in fact, Ocasio-Cortez maintained strong support throughout the district, across areas of various demographic makeups.

“This wasn’t a fluke,” said Steven Romalewski, of the Center for Urban Research. “She was able to get voters from almost every neighborhood to come out and support her.” Romalewski noted that, contrary to the conventional wisdom of voting on racial lines, the areas where Ocasio-Cortez’s showing was strongest were areas that weren’t predominantly Hispanic, signaling that her showing may not have been due to the district’s changing demographics (it has been steadily becoming less white for years), but due to desire for change from Crowley.

ny14 primary 2018 electionnightdraft

Though Ocasio-Cortez whipped up energy among voters in the Queens and Bronx district, and there is little to compare voter turnout to because Crowley had not been challenged since 2004, the primary election was decided, like most elections in New York, by a relatively small number of people.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting as of Wednesday, the State Board of Elections shows 27,826 registered Democrats cast votes in Tuesday’s primary in New York’s 14th District. With 235,745 registered Democrats as of April, according to the BOE, this comes out to a turnout of around 11.8 percent.

This turnout is about the same as in Crowley’s last competitive primary, in 2004. According to the Federal Election Commission, 12.4 percent of Democrats in Crowley’s district voted that year, which was a presidential election year, unlike this year, and saw congressional and state-level primaries on the same September day. New York has since moved its congressional primaries to June.

For comparison, when Crowley was reelected to Congress two years ago, in 2016, he faced no primary opponent and nominal competition in the general election, but in the general he received 147,567 votes as many more voters turned out on Election Day than typically do for party primaries, even when they are competitive. Ocasio-Cortez will herself now face Republican Anthony Pappas and Conservative Elizabeth Perri in the general election, but is expected to win easily.

Regardless of the low primary turnout, Romalewski characterized Ocasio-Cortez’s win in the same way as most other observers: a massive upset.

“The challenger was able to do something with her supporters that the incumbent wasn’t,” Romalewski said. “And that’s surprising given that the incumbent has the power of incumbency, has the power of the party machine behind him, and has the power of endorsements, and long time political support in both counties, Queens and the Bronx, and that was not enough to hold off the challenger. So that’s a big upset.”

Turnout on Tuesday was similarly low in other closely-watched congressional primaries. In the 9th District, in Brooklyn, where Representative Yvette Clarke narrowly beat New York Times-endorsed Adem Bunkeddeko 52 to 48 percent, Democratic turnout is only at about 8.2 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting, according to the BOE. 28,663 Democrats voted out of 347,466 total in the district.

In the 12th District, including parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, where Representative Carolyn Maloney dispatched challenger Suraj Patel 58 to 41 percent, Democratic turnout stands at about 13.6 percent with 99 percent reporting. 41,460 Democrats voted out of 304,115 total in the district.

Turnout was slightly higher in the Republican primary in the 11th District, covering Staten Island and part of southern Brooklyn, where incumbent Representative Dan Donovan was seemingly running a tight race with his predecessor Michael Grimm, only for Donovan to handily beat Grimm, 63 to 36 percent. That primary, featuring a rare such primary battle of the two most recent officeholders and an apparently race-altering endorsement of Donovan by President Donald Trump, saw a turnout of 17 percent of registered Republicans -- 20,118 Republicans voted out of 117,983 registered in the district.

Romalewski said that the high profile nature of the race played a part in the higher turnout. “Not only was it a high profile race, but there was an incumbent and a former incumbent running for the primary vote,” he said. “So there was a lot of institutional support on both sides, and a lot of interest on both sides, and a lot of familiarity with the voters, so it’s not surprising that there was relatively robust turnout in District 11.”

ny11 primary 2018 electionnightdraft

Similarly to Ocasio-Cortez’s convincing win District 14, Romalewski noted that Donovan’s strong support was widespread across the district rather than being concentrated in pockets. He won the overwhelming majority of election districts, and beat Grimm by significant margins in both the Staten Island and Brooklyn sections of the district.

In the crowded Democratic primary in District 11, Max Rose defeated five other Democratic hopefuls with 63 percent of the vote. That primary saw a turnout of 8.5 percent -- 17,098 Democrats voted out of 200,410 total registered in the district. The Donovan-Rose general election is expected to draw a lot of interest, and money, from around the state and country, as Democrats see it as a possible pick-up toward flipping the House.

In Maloney’s last noteworthy primary challenge, from Reshma Saujani in 2010, turnout stood at 16.4 percent. The last competitive primary in the district represented by Donovan was in 2010, when it was the 13th District and Grimm defeated Michael Allegretti in an election with 13.7 percent turnout. Both of these primaries occurred before a 2012 federal court decision that led New York to become the only state this year with separate federal and state primary days, wherein the state was forced to move its congressional primary earlier in the year and lawmakers declined to also move the state-level vote. The separate days can depress turnout, says Romalewski.

“In recent years, there’s been as many as four elections within a year, primaries and generals, that people have to turn out for,” he said. In 2016, New York voters turned out for presidential primaries in April, congressional primaries in June, state and local primaries in September, and finally the general election in November. “It definitely risks voter burnout, the opposite of turnout.”

Clarke’s last primary challenge, in 2012, saw a 6.2 percent turnout. Maloney faced a challenge in 2016 from attorney Peter Lindner, in a race that saw a 6.7 percent turnout.

Turnout was similarly low elsewhere in the city and state. In the 5th District, where Representative Gregory Meeks won 81 percent of the vote against two challengers, Mizan Choudhury and Carl Achille, saw a 3.8 percent turnout. In the 16th District, Eliot Engel dispatched three challengers -- Jonathan Lewis, Derickson Lawrence, and Joyce Briscoe -- with 74 percent of the vote in an election with 9.8 percent turnout.

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

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A Closer Look at Voter Turnout in 2018 New York Congressional Primaries Wed, 27 Jun 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Ocasio-Cortez Upsets Crowley, Donovan Defeats Grimm & Other 2018 New York Congressional Primary Results http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7770:ocasio-cortez-upsets-crowley-donovan-defeats-grimm-other-2018-new-york-congressional-primary-results http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7770:ocasio-cortez-upsets-crowley-donovan-defeats-grimm-other-2018-new-york-congressional-primary-results ocasio-cortez campaign buttons

Ocasio-Cortez campaign buttons (image via @Ocasio2018)


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old self-identified democratic socialist, unseated 10-term Congressional representative and Queens Democratic Party leader Joe Crowley in a dramatic upset quickly having ripple effects both locally and nationally. And she won handily, by about 4,000 votes and a 57.5 to 42.5 percent margin.

Crowley entered the House in 1999 and maintained a largely center-left voting record; he was seen as a strong contender to become the next Democratic Speaker of the House, after Nancy Pelosi. Crowley is also the chair of the Queens Democratic Party, making him one of the most powerful kingmakers in New York City politics. Ocasio-Cortez, a Latina from the Bronx, ran an aggressive, organized, energetic campaign to Crowley’s left, accusing the incumbent of acquiescing to real estate and financial interests rather than adequately representing constituents of the district. She has professed support for Medicare for All (which Crowley also supported during the campaign), a federal jobs guarantee, tuition-free public college, reinstating Glass-Steagall, and abolishing ICE.

She further distinguished herself from Crowley by refusing money from corporate PACs; Crowley, a prolific fundraiser for the party, has raised millions of dollars over the course of his career from corporations. Crowley significantly outraised and outspent Ocasio-Cortez, but she made up for it with a significant social media presence, strong ground game, and glowing profiles in national publications. Crowley raised more eyebrows when he failed to show up for a debate with Ocasio-Cortez, instead sending former City Council Member Annabel Palma in his place, which earned him a rebuke from The New York Times editorial board.

Ocasio-Cortez has said that her campaign is part of a movement, emblematic of a far-left wave that is seeking to take over the Democratic primary in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, and with a chance to flip the House at stake this fall. She is all but certain to win the general election, something Crowley noted in a gracious concession speech wherein he also said he’d be supporting Ocasio-Cortez moving forward.

The challenger’s win appeared to give a shot in the arm to other progressives hoping to unseat incumbent Democrats this year, namely gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo, had exchanged endorsements with Ocasio-Cortez on Monday and attended what became her victory party Tuesday night. Also apparently boosted by the result are the challengers to the former members of the Independent Democratic Conference of the State Senate. Those primaries will all be held September 13.

Crowley was among a handful of long-time Democratic incumbents facing spirited primary challenges on Tuesday. The others appeared to hang on, with Rep. Yvette Clarke of Brooklyn leading Adem Bunkedekko by a 1,000-vote margin with 99 percent of precincts reporting at about midnight. Bunkedekko had earned the endorsement of the Times editorial board in his insurgent campaign, but it did not appear to do quite enough to get him over the hump against Clarke.

Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Eliot Engel also fended off primary challengers, by wider margins.

Other than the Ocasio-Cortez victory, the other top storyline of the night was Rep. Dan Donovan fending off a primary challenge from his predecessor, Michael Grimm, that looked to be going Grimm's way before President Donald Trump endorsed Donovan. Donovan wound up winning by more than 20 percentage points, though.

On the Democratic side in New York’s 11th Congressional District, Max Rose won a crowded primary by a wide margin and will take on Donovan in the general election, attempting to swing the lone New York City House seat in GOP hands.

In other notable congressional primary results around the city and state (many incumbents were unchallenged in the primary, some faced only nominal competition):

Perry Gershon won the Democratic primary to earn the chance to face incumbent Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin in Congressional District 1.

Liuba Grechen Shirley won the Democratic primary to earn the chance to face incumbent Republican Rep. Peter King in Congressional District 2.

Antonio Delgado won a crowded Democratic primary to earn the chance to face incumbent Republican Rep. John Faso in Congressional District 19.

Tedra Cobb won a crowded Democratic primary to earn the chance to face incumbent Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik in Congressional District 21.

Dana Balter won the Democratic primary to earn the chance to face incumbent Republican Rep. John Katko in Congressional District 24.

Assemblymember Joseph Morelle won the Democratic primary to earn the chance to face incumbent Republican Jim Maxwell in Congressional District 25, a seat vacated when Rep. Louise Slaughter passed away earlier this year.

These results now largely set the stage for the general elections for Congress in New York, with all 27 House seas on the ballot and one U.S. Senate seat -- where Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is facing Republican challenger Chele Farley.

State-level primaries, including for all the seats in the state Legislature and the four state-wide positions of governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, and attorney general will be September 13.

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Ocasio-Cortez Upsets Crowley, Donovan Defeats Grimm & Other 2018 New York Congressional Primary Results Tue, 26 Jun 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Donovan, Grimm in Final Days of Contentious Congressional Primary http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7765:donovan-grimm-in-final-days-of-contentious-congressional-primary http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7765:donovan-grimm-in-final-days-of-contentious-congressional-primary grimm donovan ny1

Rep. Donovan, left, and former Rep. Grimm on NY1


Perhaps the most-watched congressional primary in New York ahead of Tuesday’s vote is the Republican contest centered on Staten Island, where former Congressional Representative Michael Grimm is attempting to unseat incumbent Representative Dan Donovan in what has been a nasty, hard-fought race with a heavy focus on President Donald Trump.

The district, which includes all of Staten Island and a sliver of southern Brooklyn, is home to many Trump supporters, especially in the Republican primary, and both candidates have been pledging allegiance to the commander in chief, despite each having a fairly moderate record. Trump recently endorsed Donovan, a fact that the incumbent -- who voted against Trump’s signature tax reform legislation -- has been touting as he attempts to stave off what appears to be a very serious threat to his reelection.

The winner of the Republican primary will face the victor on the Democratic side in what promises to be a spirited general election also centered around Trump and the first-term president’s policies. While the district almost exclusively elects Republicans to Congress, Democrats see an opportunity this year given heightened expectations about turnout in the first national elections since Trump shocked much of the world in 2016.

But first, the Grimm-Donovan contest has been full of energy, policy, and drama. While Donovan has virtually all of the institutional support, including from all of the Republican elected officials in the area, a long list of labor unions, and the two newspaper editorial boards that stand to matter to primary voters -- the Staten Island Advance and the New York Post -- Grimm still retains a strong following in the district and is putting his formidable campaign skills to work.

In endorsing Donovan in a move it acknowledged as exceptional given its reluctance to weigh in during party primaries, the Advance editorial board called it an "extraordinary race" indicative of "this era of out-of-the-ordinary phenomena on America's political landscape." "For us, there is no question: Dan Donovan deserves to be the Republican nominee," the board wrote. "He has served Staten Island with distinction and sensitivity, despite accusations to the contrary tossed about by Mr. Grimm."

The two candidates recently engaged in one radio and one television debate, where they lobbed personal and professional attacks against each other, attempted to prove who is the most supportive of the president, defended their policy records, and presented some sense of their vision for representing the district into the future if entrusted by voters to do so.

The debate on WABC radio, hosted by Rita Cosby, was full of argument and insults, emblematic of the overall race, which has been bitterly fought and has included a number of specific allegations of wrongdoing in each direction, not to mention discussion of Grimm’s time in prison after he pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion. It was that plea that led him to resign from Congress just after winning reelection in 2014, in what is the only Republican-held Congressional seat in New York City.

The debate on NY1 television, moderated by Errol Louis along with Courtney Gross and Anthony Pascale at the College of Staten Island, was a somewhat tamer affair than the radio debate, and included a bit more substance, though it did not lack for candidate attacks.

“My opponent’s whole campaign has been based on lies about my record and about his,” Donovan said near the start of the radio debate, responding to a question about whether his own campaign excessively used Grimm’s criminal record. “The people have to know what the truth is.”

“What I think it is,” Grimm responded, “is he’s trying to reflect onto me the fact that he’s been lying about his own record.”

During his opening statement of the TV debate, Grimm criticized Donovan’s decision to not rent a D.C. apartment but to instead sleep at his office while working in the capital, which the incumbent calls an efficiency measure.

“I’m running again because over the last three years, my opponent hasn’t just been sleeping in his office, he’s been sleeping on the job,” Grimm said. “And that’s why I’m asking for your vote.

In asking for votes, Grimm cannot bolster his pleas with the backing of the president, whom he has heaped praise on an attacked Donovan for not supporting enough.

The president backed Donovan’s candidacy in two tweets that lauded the incumbent for his stances on borders, crime, the military, and tax cuts. Donovan boasted of Trump’s support during the NY1 debate,  noting that not Trump not only supported his candidacy but denounced Grimm’s, making an apparent reference to Grimm’s record and the notion that Grimm would be a weaker general election candidate than Donovan. The president analogized Grimm’s candidacy to that of Roy Moore in the 2017 special Senate election in Alabama. Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, was the rare Republican to lose an Alabama Senate race to a Democrat, doing so amid allegations of sexual assault.

“I have a campaign going on now that you’re watching and witnessing that’s filled with lies and distortions, so much so that the president of the United States had to come in and set the record straight,” Donovan said. “He told the people of our community he wants me to be the candidate, he wants me back in Congress to help him make the America first agenda succeed and help make America great again.”

With each candidate’s allegiance to the president clear, they were asked if they would side with Trump even if it meant harming the district. Both said while they support the president’s national goals, the district will always come first. They each cited a time when they opposed the Republican Party while they were in Congress.

Grimm spoke about his flood insurance reform bill in 2014 — a measure put in place to repeal overwhelming increases in flood-insurance rates after Superstorm Sandy devastated New York — citing that he “risked my career” to get the bill passed despite harsh opposition from Republicans.

Donovan reminded viewers that he was one of only 12 House Republicans to vote against the GOP tax bill in December, citing that it harms high-tax states like New York.

“I voted with the president 90% of the time,” Donovan said during the NY1 debate. “I voted with the people I represent 100% of the time.”

Still, Grimm challenged Donovan’s allegiance to the president during the WABC debate, citing how the incumbent has voted against major legislation pushed by the Trump administration, such as the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, a ban of sanctuary cities, and the passage of the tax reform bill.

“Those are three signature issues that our president actually ran on,” Grimm said.

Though he doesn’t have Trump’s endorsement Grimm drew his own parallel with the president, saying that he was targeted by then-U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch just as Trump has been targeted by special counsel Robert Mueller in the federal investigation into possible Russian collusion and other matters during the presidential election.

“I think everyone knows that I had three delivery boys and a dishwasher off the books,” Grimm said during the radio debate, referring to his hiring of undocumented employees to work at his Manhattan-based health food restaurant, Healthalicious. “And I never hid from that. It was a civil offense that the Obama Justice Department, that is politically corrupt, used against me.”

In 2014, Grimm was indicted on 20 counts, including charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, and the preparation of false federal tax returns, although he only pleaded guilty to one charge of tax evasion. When asked during the radio debate if he would now release his tax returns, Grimm said he would not because he’s “not required to,” then said that Donovan pushing for the release of his tax returns was “a typical liberal line.”

On more substantive matters facing the country and the district, the race has had a lot of discussion of immigration, as well as storm recovery and resiliency, the opioid addiction crisis, and other matters.

Neither candidate’s website specifically addresses immigration policy, but Grimm’s prior employment of undocumented workers and Donovan’s vote against punishing sanctuary cities like New York — cities that limit their cooperation with the federal government over the enforcement of immigration law — has elicited strong criticism from one another and some discussion of policy proposals.

Grimm advocates for the implementation of a stronger guest worker program and e-verify, a system that allows employers to verify the eligibility of employees to work in the U.S. Donovan snapped backed during both debates that Grimm’s sudden support of e-verify is contradictory given his history of hiring of undocumented workers.

“The one thing he mentioned that’s pretty ironic, though, is e-verify,” Donovan said on NY1. “If we had e-verify when he owned his restaurant, he would have been caught a lot earlier because e-verify requires employers to check and verify the status of anybody that they hire.”

“Sanctuary city policy is a horrible, dangerous policy,” Grimm said during the WABC debate. “It came down to when you had an opportunity to send the message to Mayor de Blasio and ban sanctuary cities, the bottom line is he voted ‘no.’”

The former Richmond County district attorney defended his vote, stating on NY1 that he worked in law enforcement for 20 years.

“I believe that you have to enforce the laws and you can’t pick and choose which ones,” Donovan said. “Sanctuary cities choose which laws to enforce and they don’t enforce our federal immigration laws…if you’re not going to enforce the federal law, we’re not going to give you federal funds to do it.” He explained his vote, however, by saying he was worried about how Mayor Bill de Blasio, a liberal Democrat, would adjust policing in the city based on withholding of federal funds.

In regards to the opioid epidemic on Staten Island, a significant issue in the district discussed during both debates, the two again quarreled. Donovan said within his first few months of office, he helped incorporate New York into a national database that would allow the state’s pharmacists and physicians to see whether or not patients were going to bordering states to get their prescriptions filled.

Grimm, on the other hand, contends that New York already had such a program in place with the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act, or I-STOP, and associates the rise of the opioid epidemic with Donovan’s 12-year tenure as Richmond County’s district attorney.

“If you really look at my opponent’s record as the district attorney, when he first came in…there was barely a problem,” Grimm said on WABC. “That problem grew into a crisis, that crisis became an epidemic on his watch. The reality is this epidemic was fostered under your watch.”

The allegation incensed Donovan, who argued that he was both tough and smart about the growing crisis while district attorney, and was not caught flat-footed by its growth, helping by both prosecuting dealing and pursuing preventative approaches for users.

Grimm also said that he attempted to make New York’s I-STOP program, which enables doctors and pharmacists to access data that could identify potential drug interactions or abuse between patients and other doctors, into a federal law, although it didn’t pass during his time in Congress.

On the issue of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, which was discussed during the NY1 debate, Grimm and Donovan agreed that parts of the program should remain, such as child eligibility for parental plans until the age of 26 and covering those with preexisting conditions.

Nevertheless, Grimm said the act should be torn apart and renewed from scratch, and he criticized Donovan for not voting for its repeal, though Donovan argued he didn’t vote to rescind the act only because there was not a suitable replacement plan.

“Government intervention into our healthcare system was probably the worst thing we could do,” Grimm said on Thursday. “The private sector does things more efficiently, more effectively, and we should keep the government as much as we can out of our health care.”

Donovan’s platform additionally pushes for creating new transportation projects to help those on Staten Island and in southern Brooklyn with long commutes, improving student aid for covering the costs of higher education, increasing healthcare competition while reducing premiums, supporting the Veterans Healthcare Choice Improvement Act, and fighting cuts to law enforcement resources, although these issues were barely — or not at all — brought up during either debate.

Grimm, whose campaign website does not have a page dedicated to issues, has announced his support of Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and supports the termination of the Diversity Lottery program in various press releases posted onto his website.

The only public poll of the primary put Grimm ahead by 10 points over Donovan, as conducted by NY1 and Siena College, though potential voters were polled right around the time of the Trump endorsement, the effect of which was likely untapped. Donovan also has former Mayor (and now Trump lawyer) Rudy Giuliani and virtually the entire New York Republican establishment behind him, including Republican elected officials from Staten Island like conservative City Council Member Joe Borelli and moderate Borough President Jimmy Oddo.

It’s a fact not lost on Grimm, who is using it to portray himself as the candidate of the people, though it is indicative of the fact that he is seen as toxic by many due to his criminal record and behavior such as his threatening a NY1 reporter while he was still in Congress.

“Dan Donovan has the entire establishment behind him,” Grimm said, responding to a question about the poll. “He has the president behind him. He has all of these endorsements and I only have the people behind me. And I’m okay with that.”

A Donovan campaign spokesperson, on the other hand, dismissed the lone poll results. “Siena poll means nothing,” tweeted Jessica Proud. “In the field prior to Trump endorsement, our internals show us up. Weight of paid media on endorsement going to crush his false narrative. Talk to me in a few weeks.”

Voters will do that talking on Tuesday.

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by Jordan Kimmel and Chelsey Sanchez

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Donovan, Grimm in Final Days of Contentious Congressional Primary Fri, 22 Jun 2018 04:00:00 +0000
New York Congressional Primaries to Watch Ahead of June 26 Vote http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7728:new-york-congressional-primaries-to-watch-ahead-of-june-26-vote http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7728:new-york-congressional-primaries-to-watch-ahead-of-june-26-vote trump dan donovan

Rep. Dan Donovan with President Trump (photo: @DanDonovanSI)


New Yorkers will head to the polls on Tuesday, June 26 to vote in Democratic and Republican congressional primary elections, determining which candidates will appear on the parties’ ballots in November’s general election. Not every one of New York’s 27 congressional districts is home to one or two primaries, but some districts are in the midst of competitive primary campaigns.

In New York City, where just one seat in the House of Representatives delegation is held by a Republican, there are several hotly-contested primaries, though only one race is expected to be competitive in the general election. The lone GOP-held seat is also the one where a tough general election is expected -- there is currently an intense primary on each side of the aisle in the 11th Congressional District, which includes Staten Island and a sliver of Southern Brooklyn and is represented by incumbent Rep. Dan Donovan.

A small handful of Democratic incumbents representing parts of the city are facing spirited primary challenges, largely from the left, though incumbents, as is almost always the case, are favored. Without public polling, it is often difficult to tell if challengers are breaking through at all, or how voters feel about their incumbent representative.

Candidates are campaigning feverishly leading up to the primary, which is expected to see fairly low turnout, though it may see a boost relative to past years due to the competitive nature of some races and the larger atmosphere surrounding “the resistance” to President Donald Trump.

While NY-11 will factor into the discussion for the general election, other congressional seats outside New York City will form the vast majority of those seen as the state’s swing districts, where either a Democrat or a Republican could win and influence which party controls the House in January.

While every one of the country’s 435 House seats are on the ballot this year, as they are every other year, there are some U.S. Senate seats up for election this year as well -- Senators serve six-year terms and states stagger the elections of their two Senate seats. This year, Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is seeking another term and is being challenged by Republican Chele Farley in the general election.

In order to vote in the upcoming federal primaries, New Yorkers have to already be registered to vote and with the party holding a primary in their district. A closer look at the congressional primaries to watch leading up to June 26:

District 9
In Central Brooklyn’s District 9, 12-year Democratic incumbent Rep. Yvette Clarke faces her first primary challenge in six years. Adem Bunkeddeko, 29, was, until recently, an associate director at Brooklyn Community Services and, for five years, a member of Brooklyn Community Board 8, which includes Prospect Heights, Crown Heights and Weeksville.

He says he is running because “the political culture is so static” in the nation’s largest and most diverse city. Bunkeddeko’s platform includes the expansion of charter schools, legalization of marijuana, and an aggressive housing plan that, he says, would open paths to homeownership for families making between $30,000 and $80,000 a year.

Bunkeddeko has raised more than $200,000 in his bid for the Democratic nomination as of March 31. Clarke, meanwhile, has raised at least $600,000 in her bid for re-election. Almost 60% of Clarke’s campaign contributions have come from political action committees; Bunkeddeko has reported zero donations from PACs.

Clarke’s campaign highlights her introduction of legislation granting new legal rights to homeowners facing foreclosure, work on the Affordable Care Act, and support for universal firearm background checks. She also is a signatory to the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. Clarke has not stated her positions on other marquee Democratic issues like  legalization of marijuana and the abolition of ICE, though she has introduced legislation that would equip ICE agents with body cameras.

“Our community is under siege and has been for quite some time,” Bunkeddeko wrote on his website, with reference to the Trump administration. “More and more of our neighbors are finding inequality and injustice in Central Brooklyn (NY-9), and good folks are being pushed out in droves.”

District 11
In New York City’s only Republican-represented congressional district, Rep. Dan Donovan is facing a primary challenge from his predecessor, former Rep. Michael Grimm, who resigned the office three-and-a-half years ago just after winning reelection while under federal indictment. Grimm pleaded guilty to tax evasion and served time in federal prison. He now wants his old job back and is challenging Donovan in a Republican-heavy district where, unlike in most of the rest of the city, allegiance to President Donald Trump is seen as essential -- at least in the primary.

Grimm represented the mostly-Staten Island district from 2010 to 2015. In 2014, he was charged with 20 counts of fraud, federal tax evasion and perjury. He resigned in January of 2015, and served eight months in federal prison.

Grimm recently gathered over 3,000 signatures from those in the district, easily surpassing the 1,250 required to appear on the primary ballot, and, while Donovan has raised over three times as much money as Grimm, a recent NY1/Siena poll shows Grimm with a ten-point lead over the incumbent.

Differences between the candidates have been largely non-ideological — Grimm’s campaign website does not even offer a list of his positions, and Donovan’s stakes out his stances on widely-agreeable issues like Staten Islanders’ commutes (shorten them), taxes (cut them), and homeland security (protect it).

As representatives, Donovan introduced legislation this year to target federal funding for sanctuary cities, and Grimm, in 2013, urged the Department of Homeland Security to stop releasing low-risk undocumented immigrants from detention camps.

In 2012, the two worked together — Donovan as Staten Island District Attorney, Grimm as Congressional representative — on legislation to fight prescription drug abuse.

Both candidates have made a show of their support for Trump in the only New York City district he carried. While Grimm has attacked Donovan as a moderate who voted against the Trump tax reform package, Donovan has pointed to Grimm’s moderate record when he represented the district. Donovan introduced a bill that would mandate every post office display photos of the president and vice president.

Trump recently endorsed Donovan, tweeting that “There is no one better to represent the people of N.Y. and Staten Island (a place I know very well) than @RepDanDonovan, who is strong on Borders & Crime, loves our Military & our Vets, voted for Tax Cuts and is helping me to Make America Great Again.”

“Dan has my full endorsement!” he concluded. Donovan was quick to boast about the endorsement, while Grimm downplayed it.

The winner of the Republican primary will face the winner of a competitive Democratic primary in NY-11, which includes six Democrats. That pack is led by fundraising leader and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee endorsee Max Rose, a veteran who has raised more money as of the March 31 filing date than all of his Democratic competitors combined. Michael DeVito is also running an especially active campaign, while other Democrats include Omar Vaid, Zach Emig, Paul Sperling, and Radhakrishna Mohan.

NY-11 is on the Democratic Party’s “Red to Blue” shortlist of currently-Republican congressional districts that realistically may elect a Democrat in November.

District 12
Meanwhile, in District 12, covering much of Manhattan’s East Side and parts of Brooklyn and Queens, 34-year-old Suraj Patel, an entrepreneur and business ethics professor at New York University, is attempting to unseat 25-year incumbent Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

Patel has raised slightly over $1 million for his bid, nearly matching Maloney’s $1.4 million war chest -- a rare development for a primary challenger to an incumbent. Maloney retained the money advantage, at least as of the March 31 filing, and has significant establishment support for her reelection.

Patel was born in Mississippi to Indian immigrant parents, and has worked in various capacities in Barack Obama’s orbit, including as a volunteer on his 2008 presidential campaign.

“Our republic is broken,” Patel wrote on his website. “Big money has corrupted the system, there are too many obstacles to voting, and undemocratic policies like partisan gerrymandering have made our House of Representatives unrepresentative of the American people.”

The upstart and insurgent candidate challenging a well-established party representative is something Maloney has seen before. She last faced a serious primary challenge in 2010, when lawyer Reshma Saujani raised upwards of $1.3 million in a bid to unseat the incumbent. Nevertheless, Maloney prevailed with 81% of the vote.

Saujani endorsed Maloney in early March, according to the New York Post, as have several advocacy groups and unions, including 32BJ SEIU, the largest union of property service workers in America.

She is running on her consumer protection bona fides, experience “on the front lines in the fight for women’s rights,” and legislative work for paid parental leave, among other positions.

District 14
In District 14, covering northwest Queens and the eastern Bronx, 28-year-old organizer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is offering 56-year-old Rep. Joe Crowley his first contested primary in his 14 years in office.

Crowley has significant establishment ties: as the chair of the House Democratic Caucus, he’s the fourth highest ranking official in the House Democratic leadership and is frequently mentioned as a possible successor to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Crowley runs the Queens County Democratic Party, with great influence over local elections, the courts, and government in Queens and beyond.

Crowley touts his support for equal pay legislation, co-sponsorship of legislation mandating universal firearm background checks, and authorship of an act providing tax relief for poor renters.

Ocasio-Cortez is challenging Crowley from his left as part of the slate of the Justice Democrats, a political action committee that supports progressive candidates who pledge to not accept corporate donations. She’s staked out her support for a federal jobs guarantee, the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and tuition-free public college.

Both candidates tout their immigrant roots — Crowley’s family is Irish, Ocasio-Cortez’s is Puerto Rican — and their support for Medicare-for-All.

The fundraising gap between the two candidates is significant — with $2.78 million on hand compared to Ocasio-Cortez’s $116,000, Crowley’s outraised his opponent almost twenty-four times over.

“It's a major David-vs-Goliath tale for the soul of the Democratic Party,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a blog post on Reddit. “We are going to have to choose whether we will continue down the path of corporate patronage or return to the Democratic spirit of our governance.”

Races Outside New York City: Districts 1, 19, 22, and 24
The Cook Political Report carefully designates “competitive” House races and lists a few New York races outside the five boroughs.

In Long Island’s 1st District, five Democrats are running for their party’s nomination. Perry Gershon, a former businessman who says he was inspired by Trump’s election to “set out to personally fight for change,” has raised more money than all his competitors combined. The winner of the contested primary will face off against two-term Republican incumbent Rep. Lee Zeldin, who co-sponsored a ban on abortions after 20 weeks and voted to defund Planned Parenthood.

Voters in the 19th District, which comprises of much of the Hudson Valley and the Catskills, will choose from seven Democrats competing for a chance to challenge incumbent Republican Rep. John Faso in the general election.

The district backed Barack Obama in 2012 but favored Donald Trump in 2016, and its past three representatives have been Republican. Most recently, Faso defeated Democrat Zephyr Teachout in 2016.

The Democratic candidates debated each other this past Thursday on WAMC, a public radio network headquartered in Albany, for nearly two hours, regarding topics ranging from the environment to health care.

In District 22, another vital district that the national Democratic Party is prioritizing, Assemblymember Anthony Brindisi is challenging Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney in what looks to be a tight race.

In District 24, which includes a chunk of central New York, Democrats Dana Balter and Juanita Perez Williams are competing for the chance to challenge Republican Rep. John Katko in the general.

Districts 22 and 24 are also on the Democratic Party’s “Red to Blue” list.

National
The Democratic Party is hoping to gain control of the House of Representatives through November’s general elections. Currently, the House is composed of 235 Republicans and 193 Democrats with seven vacancies. Democrats see several recent elections results, in New York and elsewhere, as encouraging in their efforts to flip the House this year, including through a few New York wins.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke at a rally last year with House Minority Leader Pelosi, of California, and other Democratic leaders to announce a movement to flip six New York House seats from red to blue. Cuomo vowed to unseat New York Representatives Lee Zeldin (CD1), John Faso (CD19), Elise Stefanik (CD21), Claudia Tenney (CD22), and Tom Reed (CD23), and Chris Collins (CD27). The districts represented by Reps. Stefanik, Reed, and Collins are generally regarded as safely Republican.

You can find your local polling station here.

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by Jordan Kimmel and Daniel Yadin

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by Jordan Kimmel, Gotham Gazette
@GothamGazette

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New York Congressional Primaries to Watch Ahead of June 26 Vote Mon, 11 Jun 2018 04:00:00 +0000