The end of the road is here!
The 2018 primary season started back on March 6th in Texas and ends tonight in NY, some 740 races (give or take) later.
We’re only here tonight because NY is…different.
You may be thinking, “didn’t we do NY back in June?” Yes, yes we did but that was the federal level primaries. The Empire State, in its infinite wisdom, holds a separate primary for state and local offices. In presidential years, they hold a 3rd one.
Tonight’s main race is the Democratic primary between incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon.
Cuomo is seeking his third term and like last time in 2014 he’s facing a primary challenge from his left.
Nixon has been running hard on the condition of the New York City subway system and says she’d raise taxes on the state’s wealthiest residents to fully fund repairs and upgrades. Cuomo for his part says he wants to split the cost with the City of New York.
As for the hard numbers of the race, it’s all about New York City and its suburbs.
When Cuomo was challenged by Zephyr Teachout in 2014 he lost a number of counties north of the metropolitan area but he carried all of New York City (alone about 1/3 of the state’s Democratic votes)) and the immediate suburbs of Nassau and Sufolk on Long Island (7% combined) and Westchester and Rockland (another 7%),
Had Cuomo not won a single vote outside of NYC, he still would have carried the election.
(Source: NYS Board Of Elections)
Cuomo was able to walk away with a comfortable 62-34% win. Losing over a third of the vote is certainly less than ideal for a sitting Governor but doesn’t really represent a threat.
To have any chance of winning Nixon will have to cut into Cuomo’s massive vote totals leads in the outer-boroughs (he only carried Manhattan by 12% but won the Bronx by 64% and Queens by 50%), if not actually win one or more of them. Then she’ll need bigger turnout numbers in upstate, where Cuomo isn’t terribly popular but there’s no reason to think she is either.
Another race we’re watching tonight is the state AG’s race on the Democratic side.
Four candidates are vying to replace Eric Schneiderman who resigned in disgrace after several women charged him with sexual misconduct.
The focus of the campaign has in large part been about who is best suited to hold President Trump accountable. One thing missing in many of the pledges (including one candidate who has promised to arrest federal immigration agents) is that the NY AG has no direct prosecutorial powers. Those reside in the county DA’s and in terms of holding state officials accountable, that’s historically a function of either the Manhattan or Albany County DA.
The four candidates are:
Leecia Eve– She’s a former economic development official in the Cuomo administration
Letitia James– The probable front runner given her position as NYC Public Advocate and party backing.
Sean Patrick Maloney– He’s a sitting Congressman from north of the City (his district includes the lower Hudson Valley from northern Westchester County up through Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County). The interesting situation with him is, if he wins the nomination, he will have to decline the Democratic party nomination to Congress he won in June. That would mean the party chairs from the counties within his district would pick a replacement for him on the November congressional ballot. The voting would be weighted by population, meaning the Chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party would be a kingmaker as his county accounts for nearly half the district.
Zephyr Teachout– Cuomo’s 2014 opponent and failed 2016 congressional candidate in the state’s 19th district, Teachout is back for another try at public office.
As we said above, James is the likely favorite given her past history of winning votes in New York City but in such a fractured field for an office most people don’t think too much about (though Cuomo and former Governor Eliot Spitzer used it as a springboard to the Governor’s Mansion), it’s not easy to be very confident in any prediction.
And as a bonus race, we’ll be covering the strange case of the Democratic primary in the state Senate’s 18th District, in Kings County (Brooklyn).
Julia Salazar started the campaign as a darling of the progressive wing of the party and then questions were raised about her biography. That was followed by allegations involving potential criminal activity that related to former NY Mets star Keith Hernandez, with whom she may have had an affair. In the final days of the campaign Salazar charged a media outlet with outing her as the victim of a sexual assault involving Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations.
If you’re wondering why there are no GOP races tonight, the party selected their statewide candidates at their convention.
Polls close at 9pm eastern, we’ll have the results here.