New York Primary Recap

Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) won the state’s much-hyped Democratic gubernatorial primary. He defeated his progressive challenger, Cynthia Nixon (D), by 30 points. After being primaried from the left four years ago, the Governor’s political positions have evolved and he now holds much more liberal views on issues such as paid family leave, raising the minimum wage and tuition-free college. Pundits in and outside of the Empire State have agreed that Nixon’s progressive platform pushed Governor Cuomo farther towards the left – at least within the boundaries of the primary. Governor Cuomo will now face Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro (R) in November and barring an electoral disaster for him, he will likely begin his third term in January.

The resignation of former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) jump-started a highly contested race for the state’s top lawyer. Tish James (D), the current Public Advocate for the City of New York, secured the Democratic nomination defeating three challengers. She’s running on a message of inclusion and is pledging to fight the Trump Administration from the Attorney General’s office. James is one step closer to becoming the first African American woman elected to a statewide office. She will go on to face Keith Wofford (R) in November and is expected to keep the Office of Attorney General in Democratic control.

But the bigger surprises in yesterday’s primary may have come from the losses suffered by members of the now-disbanded Senate Independent Democratic Conference (IDC). All eight (8) former members of the IDC were aggressively primaried by progressive candidates who criticized the senators for caucusing with the Republican majority (and helping Republicans to hold that majority). Four (4) of the progressive challengers even picked up the endorsement of the New York Times editorial board and U.S. Senator, and rising progressive star, Kirsten Gillibrand. 

Even the powerful Bronx Senator Jeffrey Klein – the former head of the IDC – lost to lawyer and activist Alessandra Biaggi, and after outspending her almost 10-1. Jessica Ramos defeated Queens Senator Jose Peralta. Zellnor Myrie unseated State Senator Jesse Hamilton. Robert Jackson defeated State Senator Marisol Alcantara. New York City Councilmember John Liu jumped in late in the game and still managed to take down State Senator Tony Avella. State Senator and Consumer Protection Chair David Carlucci and Senator Diane Savino managed to hold on to their seats. Activist challenger Rachel May and State Senator David Valesky are still locked in a tight race with May edging Valesky, but with many absentee and affadavit ballots yet to be counted.