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A List and Brief Summary of New York's Primary Elections

By Matthew Kuster ’22

New York announced its primary election results this summer (Photo Credit: Politico)

If you would like to see a table of all candidates and primary/general elections in New York, that is available here:

Kuster_List of NY Elections
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With the general election around the corner on November 3, New York has a total of 240 combined congressional and state legislature seats to be filled in 2020—27 in the House of the Representatives, 63 in the New York State Senate, and 150 in the New York State Assembly.

In 2018’s Blue Wave, Democrats gained control of the House at the midterms, winning 234 of the 435 total seats to the Republicans’ 198. New York witnessed this wave as 21 of the 27 congressional districts went to Democrats, while six were won by Republicans.

2020 polling data as of August indicates that New York will continue to be overwhelmingly blue in Congress. Nineteen districts are considered secure for the incumbent party, and NY-21 and NY-23 are the only two Republican districts among the nineteen secured districts. The incumbents of the remaining eight contested districts are evenly split between the two main parties.

Democrats will remain in control of the state, and several primary results in 2020 reveal growing support for the Democratic Party’s left-wing. After NY-14’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez upset the House’s fourth-ranking Democrat Joe Crowley in 2018, three more progressive Democrats won their primaries in 2020.

Representative Eliot L. Engel was a 16-term incumbent for NY-16 but was ousted in the June 23 primary by Jamaal Bowman, a 44-year-old Democratic-Socialist and former school principal. Notable members of the party’s centrist establishment backing Engel included New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Speaker of the House and Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ocasio-Cortez were among the progressive endorsements that helped lift Bowman to a fifteen-point victory over Engel, who accepted his defeat but declared intraparty primary battles “a very dangerous thing for party unity.” Bowman will not face a candidate of the Republican Party and will likely easily beat the Conservative Party’s Patrick McManus. 

Prior to 2020, NY-17’s Representative Nita Lowey, who served as a representative since 1989, announced her retirement. NY-15’s veteran Representative José E. Serrano also announced his retirement due to the effects of Parkinson’s disease. Both vacancies left the door open for crowded primaries. In NY-17’s primary, the progressive lawyer Mondaire Jones won with a decisive 25-point lead over both Adam Scheifler, a former federal prosecutor, and Evelyn Farkas, a former national security advisor for the Obama administration. In NY-15, New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres beat eleven other candidates to win the South Bronx primary. Jones and Torres will likely be Congress’s first openly gay Black men if they win in the general election. 

While young progressive minorities in Bowman, Jones, Torres, and Ocasio Cortez have made their mark with victories, progressive candidate Suraj Patel fell short in NY-12. Longtime incumbent Representative Carolyn Maloney fended off Patel by a margin of just two points in a controversial race that involved a lawsuit and significant controversy over invalidated and late mail-in ballots. The announcements of Torres and Maloney’s wins came six weeks after June 23’s primaries due to issues counting the flood of absentee ballots as a result of COVID-19. 

NY-27, the western-most part of the state and one of New York’s most conservative districts, is of particular interest among the contested districts. After Republican Representative Chris Collins pleaded guilty to federal insider trading charges and resigned, a special election was held to fill his seat. Republican Representative Chris Jacobs, heavily backed by President Trump, won the special election against Democrat Nathan McMurray by five points in an unexpectedly close race. Jacobs, who also recently won the Republican primary over Beth Parlato, will only have served a few months before he faces McMurray again in November’s general election.

In NY-2, Republican incumbent Representative Peter King, who was first elected in 1992, announced his retirement. In a district that leans Republican, Republican primary winner Andrew Garbarino is the favorite, while the Democratic Jackie Gordon is his main competition. 

In 2018, Democratic Representative Max Rose won NY-11, the district containing Staten Island and part of Brooklyn. Staten Island is the only New York City borough that leans Conservative, so Republicans are looking to win Rep. Rose’s seat back in 2020. A member of the New York State Assembly and a 2017 mayoral candidate, Nicole Malliotakis has received the endorsements of the Republican and Conservative Parties.


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