New Yorkers headed to the polls on Thursday to vote in primaries for statewide races, three months after the state voted for candidates in federal primaries. New York is the only state in the country which has separate election days for federal and statewide primaries. Polls closed at 9 p.m.
Democratic governor race: Cuomo Wins
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, won his primary challenge against actress Cynthia Nixon. He faced an unexpectedly serious primary challenge from Nixon who, if elected, would have become the first state executive to have won Emmy, Grammy and Tony Awards.
Cuomo is the son of famed former New York governor and almost-presidential candidate Mario Cuomo. Nixon tapped into a vein of progressivism that helped Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez win her primary against Rep. Joe Crowley in June. She also tried to capitalize on fatigue with Cuomo’s leadership and corruption in Albany, the state capital. One of Cuomo’s former top aides was found guilty on corruption charges in March, while a number of other onetime Albany heavyweights have faced similar charges.
Despite enthusiasm for Nixon in some quarters and on social media, Cuomo held substantial leads against Nixon in the polls. A Siena College poll released last week showed Cuomo with a 41-point lead over Nixon, 63 percent to 22 percent. A Quinnipiac University poll similarly found Cuomo with a 36-point lead. But Nixon tried to draw attention to a series of gaffes from the Cuomo campaign in recent weeks, such as when the governor said that “America was never that great” during an August rally and then quickly backtracked.
Cuomo will face Republican Marc Molinaro in the general election, and other candidates running on minor party lines.
Other New York races down the ballot
Cuomo’s ticket is also in danger of being thwarted by insurgent candidates. His running mate, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, is facing a serious primary challenge from progressive New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams. His preferred pick for attorney general, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, was mired in a four-way primary.
New York State Attorney General
James won the primary for attorney general. If elected, she would be New York’s first African-American attorney general.
Attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout, who launched an unsuccessful primary bid against Cuomo in 2014, was endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders, who has also endorsed Williams. Teachout also ran for Congress unsuccessfully in 2016.
Teachout ran on a platform of tackling corruption in Albany. The other candidates were Representative Sean Patrick Maloney and former Cuomo official Leecia Eve.
New York State Senate race
In the state Senate, several progressive challengers are looking to knock off incumbent Democrats who used to caucus independently from mainline Democrats, allowing Republicans to have the majority in the chamber for the past decade. Alessandra Biaggi, defeated former Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeff Klein. She had been endorsed by big Democratic names in the state like Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Many other former IDC members lost their primaries, ushering in progressive candidates who will almost certainly be elected in November. The influx of truly left-wing state senators could shift New York dramatically to the left.
Meanwhile, Julia Salazar won her primary challenge against state Sen. Martin Dilan. Salazar’s campaign has attracted national press due to inconsistencies in her personal background and allegations of sexual assault she made against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesperson.
Voting issues in New York City
New York has a notoriously opaque voting system. For example, if a person wanted to switch parties to be able to vote in Thursday’s primaries, they needed to register by Oct. 13, 2017, almost a full year before the actual election. New York also does not have early voting.
But beyond structural issues, polling sites in New York City had serious problems on Thursday. Several people who showed up to their normal polling places were not on the rolls when they arrived, and therefore had to vote by filling out an affidavit ballot.