New York’s 2020 state legislative primary results

Assembly District 38 candidate Jenifer Rajkumar.
Assembly District 38 candidate Jenifer Rajkumar.
Sultan Khan
Assembly District 38 candidate Jenifer Rajkumar.

New York’s 2020 state legislative primary results

Tracking the winners and losers in each district.
July 22, 2020

In the midst of a global pandemic, the June 23 primary left a number of state lawmakers at risk of being removed from office – although an influx of uncounted absentee ballots make it hard to tell who ultimately will be the victor even in races where a candidate has a strong lead. 

Incumbent Assembly Members Aravella Simotas, Michael DenDekker, Michael Miller were all trailing badly with all the ballots cast at polling places on Election Day in and counted, while another Assembly incumbent, Walter Mosley, ended the night neck and neck with his challenger, Phara Souffrant Forrest.

Forrest was one of several challengers endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America who were in position to notch an upset. Zohran Mamdani, who was leading Simotas in her Western Queens district, and Jabari Brisport, who was ahead in the race for a vacant state Senate seat in Brooklyn, were also backed by the DSA. 

In Queens, two younger female candidates in the mold of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were poised to oust longtime white male incumbents. Jenifer Rajkumar was far ahead of Miller, while Jessica González-Rojas was significantly outpacing DenDekker.

And in another set of intriguing races, three ex-lawmakers – Eric Stevenson, Hiram Monserrate and Jesse Hamilton – were also on track to fall short in their comeback bids. 

Outside of New York City, a number of Republican state senators had resigned or opted against seeking reelection after becoming members of the minority party, leading to an influx of Democratic candidates in the Tuesday primary, all vying to take over their seats in the general election.

As absentee ballots are counted – starting mostly on Wednesday, July 8, in New York City, and other times across the state – City & State will be updating the results as the huge influx of mail-in ballots are counted and races are officially decided. These results have been updated as of July 22.

STATE SENATE

State Senate District 1, Democratic Primary

Laura A. Ahearn: 29.69%

Valerie M. Cartright: 26.67%

Thomas Schiavoni: 22.79%

Skyler Johnson: 11.89%

Nora Higgins: 4.48%

With 212 of 212 election districts reporting.

Laura Ahearn, an attorney and crime victim advocate, declared victory on July 8 in the crowded primary for the Suffolk County state Senate seat. The Suffolk County Board of Elections didn’t respond to a request for comments, but Ahearn’s campaign said all the absentee votes had been counted and she posted the vote totals on her Facebook page. Ahearn will face Republican Assembly Member Anthony Palumbo in the race to fill the seat held by Republican state Sen. Ken LaValle, who is retiring.

State Senate District 12, Democratic Primary

Michael Gianaris: 65.98%

Ignazio Terranova: 23.32%

With 210 of 210 election districts reporting.

This race is in many ways a referendum on the failed deal to bring an Amazon satellite campus to Western Queens. State Sen. Michael Gianaris was among the biggest opponents of the deal, but the voter backlash wasn’t enough to power Ignazio Terranova, a former sanitation official, to victory. Terranova conceded to Gianaris the day after Election Day, when in-person vote tallies showed Gianaris winning with 74% of the vote.

State Senate District 18, Democratic Primary

Julia Salazar: 76.78%

Andy Marte: 14.40%

With 244 of 244 election districts reporting.

State Sen. Julia Salazar scored a big political upset in 2018 by beating a longtime incumbent to become the first democratic socialist to win a seat in the state Legislature. She now appears to be in a commanding position to get a second term representing the North Brooklyn district despite the efforts of Andy Marte, a former legislative aide to the notorious longtime Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Vito Lopez. 

State Senate District 25, Democratic Primary

Jabari Brisport: 49.98%

Tremaine Wright: 38.85%

Jason Salmon: 6.65%

With 280 of 280 election districts reporting.

The three-way race to represent a district that stretches through downtown and central Brooklyn is arguably the most watched state Senate race of the year. Assembly Member Tremaine Wright had the backing of most of the local Demoratic Party establishment, which is looking to avoid an embarrassing lost to Brisport, who has the backing of the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. The initial results had Brisport with 12,778 votes, leading Wright by nearly 3,000 votes. 

State Senate District 38, Democratic Primary

Elijah Reichlin-Melnick: 42.62%

Justin L. Sweet: 37.83%

Eudson T. Francois: 17.82%

With 68 of 68 election districts reporting.

In the Rockland County state Senate seat currently occupied by state Sen. David Carlucci, three Democrats battled it out in the primary, and Justin L. Sweet, the Clarkstown town clerk, had an early lead with just in-person votes counted. But with over 15,000 absentee ballots returned, Elijah Reichlin-Melnik, the legislative director for state Sen. James Skoufis, pulled ahead and Sweet conceded.

State Senate District 38, Republican Primary

William J. Weber Jr.: 65.02%

Matthew R. Weinberg: 30.45%

With 68 of 68 election districts reporting.

State Senate District 56, Democratic Primary

Jeremy A. Cooney: 53.78%

Hilda Enid Rosario Escher: 23.58%

Sherita S. Traywick: 22.59%

With in-person, absentee and affidavit ballots counted, the Monroe County Board of Elections released unofficial results showing Jeremy Cooney in the lead for the Democratic nomination. Cooney, the former chief of staff to Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, is running to replace retiring Republican state Sen. Joseph Robach.

With 40 of 40 election districts reporting.

State Senate District 61, Democratic Primary

Jacqualine Berger

Kim Smith

Joan Elizabeth Seamans

Jacqualine Berger, a town board member and deputy supervisor in Amherst, has declared victory in the Monroe County race, overcoming her second-place status on primary night. But the results were tight – the other top candidate, Kim Smith, came within just 141 votes of winning. 

ASSEMBLY

Assembly District 31, Democratic Primary

Khaleel Anderson

Richard David 

Lisa George

Shea Uzoigwe

Derrick DeFlorimonte

Tavia Blakley

Khaleel Anderson, a member of Queens Community Board 14, maintained his election night lead after absentee ballots were counted in this six-person race. The victory will earn the 24-year-old the distinction of being the state Assembly’s youngest member. 

Assembly District 34, Democratic Primary

Jessica González-Rojas: 37.03%

Michael DenDekker: 20.87%

Joy Chowdhury: 13.89%

Nuala O’Doherty-Naranjo: 12.55%

Angel Cruz: 7.36%

With 73 of 73 election districts reporting.

Despite having a fundraising advantage and the backing of notable unions, Assembly Member Michael DenDekker could find himself losing to a progressive challenger this year. The former executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Jessica González-Rojas, is in a solid lead, beating him out by more than 17 points, according to preliminary voting results. The three other competitors hoping to unseat the incumbent haven’t fared nearly as well so far. Still, additional votes coming in through absentee ballots could shift the balance of the race.

Assembly District 35, Democratic Primary

Jeffrion Aubry: 59%

Hiram Monserrate: 31.80%

With 66 of 66 election districts reporting.

Disgraced former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate has been hoping to make a bigger political comeback this year with this Assembly run – but as it turns out, voters may not have a stomach for a convict who allegedly assaulted his girlfriend. Early results from the state Board of Elections show incumbent Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry in a solid lead for now, though things can still change depending on how many absentee ballots come through. 

Assembly District 36, Democratic Primary

Zohran Mamdani

Aravella Simotas

After leading on election night, housing counselor and DSA-backed candidate Zohran Mamdani ultimately emerged victorious as the counting of absentee ballots wrapped up. An initial 600-vote cushion halved to about 300, according to Mamdani in a tweet, but he said the margin was still enough to avoid a recount.

Assembly District 37, Democratic Primary

Catherine Nolan: 47.87%

Mary Jobaida: 30.09%

Danielle Brecker: 13.27%

With 88 of 88 election districts reporting.

Assembly District 38, Democratic Primary

Jenifer Rajkumar: 49.47%

Michael Miller: 24.51%

Joseph De Jesus: 20.89%

With 71 of 71 election districts reporting.

The early results show Assembly Member Michael Miller with fewer than half as many votes as Jenifer Rajkumar, a professor with the City University of New York and former official in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration. Miller’s vulnerability is further emphasized by the fact that he only leads the third place candidate, Joseph “Joey” De Jesus, by a few percentage points.

Assembly District 40, Democratic Primary

Ron Kim: 60.53%

Steven Lee: 26.45%

With 60 of 60 election districts reporting.

Assembly District 43, Democratic Primary

Diana Richardson: 67.11%

Jesse Hamilton: 26.56%

With 87 of 87 election districts reporting.

Richardson appears to be in a good position to beat back a challenge from Hamilton, who is looking to stage a comeback to the state Legislature after losing his state Senate seat in 2018. Not only does she have the backing from many fellow elected officials, she also has gotten a surge in publicity in recent weeks for her role in protests against systemic racism, including an incident in the district where she was pepper-sprayed by the NYPD.

Assembly District 50, Democratic Primary

Joseph Lentol

Emily Gallagher

Emily Gallagher was looking to make the jump from local community board to the state Legislature by running to the left of Assembly Member Joe Lentol, who has represented the district for the past four decades. On election night, she trailed by over 1,700 ballots with about 42% of the vote to Lentol’s 57.4%. But Gallagher made up the difference as the absentee ballots overwhelmingly split in her favor, ultimately besting the nearly 50-year incumbent, who conceded

Assembly District 51, Democratic Primary

Marcela Mitaynes: 34.7%

Félix W. Ortiz: 32.4% 

Katherine P. Walsh: 23.7% 

Genesis E. Aquino: 9.% 

With 87 of 87 election districts reporting.

Marcela Mitaynes has become the latest democratic socialist candidate to pull off an upset in this year’s primary, unseating longtime Assembly Member Félix Ortiz after the count of absentee ballots was finalized. The mailed-in votes allowed her to overcome a 7 percentage point deficit on election night, as updated numbers from her campaign show. 

Assembly District 56, Democratic Primary

Stefani L. Zinerman: 51.71%

Justin Cohen: 39.68%

With 92 of 92 election districts reporting.

Local officials have backed Zinerman to replace outgoing Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright in this central Brooklyn district, but Cohen has raised enough money to compete and could exceed expectations in gentrifying areas of the district. 

Assembly District 57, Democratic Primary

Walter Mosley

Phara Souffrant Forrest

After trailing by about 600 votes after election night, Phara Souffrant Forrest pulled off an upset with the absentee count. She declared victory about a month after the election, with her campaign saying she held an over 2,500-vote lead as the New York City Board of Elections concluded its absentee ballot count. Souffrant Forrest had the support of the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, while incumbent Assembly Member Walter Mosley was backed by the Working Families Party.

Assembly District 65, Democratic Primary

Yuh-Line Niou

Grace Lee

Grace Lee invested $250,000 of her own money in the race, but Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou had the backing of nearly every elected official in Manhattan and raised a comparable amount of money through small donors. Niou’s comfortable lead not only held, but grew after every absentee ballot was counted. She said she won with over 64% of the vote.

Assembly District 68

Robert Rodriguez: 49.45%

Tamika Mapp: 37.17%

With 115 or 115 election districts reporting.

Community activist Tamika Mapp has run surprisingly close to the five-term incumbent Robert Rodriguez who had about 50 times more money to spend on the race. 

Assembly District 73, Democratic Primary

Dan Quart: 53.19%

Cameron Alex Koffman: 34.97%

With 107 of 107 election districts reporting.

This is one of the strangest races of 2020. Cameron Koffman is a 20-something with no experience but bigtime blue blood connections through his great-uncle Richard LeFrak, a friend of President Donald Trump. Assembly Member Dan Quart would likely be a shoe-in for reelection except that he has already announced a run for Manhattan district attorney, which opened him up to attacks from the challenger.

Assembly District 79, Democratic Primary

Chantel Jackson: 24.67% 

Cynthia L. Cox: 22.01% 

George A. Alvarez: 16.58% 

Eric Stevenson: 12.25% 

Elvis Santana: 11.79%

Dion Powell: 3.44%

With 90 of 90 election districts reporting.

Chantel Jackson enjoyed the backing of outgoing Assemblyman Michael Blake in the six-way race for this South Bronx district. There appear to be five candidates who still have a real chance at winning once the absentee ballots are counted. 

Assembly District 85, Democratic Primary

Kenneth Burgos: 53.38%

William Russell Moore: 33.37%

With 85 of 85 election districts reporting.

Kenneth Burgos is in a good position to take over the seat formerly held by his boss, Assembly Member Marcos Crespo. While the electoral outcomes could shift in light of incoming absentee ballots, Burgos holds a solid lead and has had a strong financial advantage over his opponent.

Assembly District 93, Democratic Primary

Chris Burdick: 33.7%

Kristen P. Browde: 31.4%

Jeremiah Frei-Pearson: 19%

Alex E. Roithmayr: 8%

Mark Jaffe: 7%

With 116 of 116 election districts reporting.

Assembly District 122, Republican Primary

Joe G. Angelino: 73.76%

Nicholas R. Libous: 14.02%

Victor Furman: 5.90%

James P. Powers: 4.82%

With 98 out of 98 election districts reporting.

In the four-way race to replace retiring Republican Assembly Member Clifford Crouch, former Norwich Police Chief Joe Angelino won over 70% of the in-person vote – enough for NY1 and The Associated Press to declare him the winner the day after the election.

Assembly District 125, Democratic Primary

Anna Kelles: 32.75%

Seph Murtagh: 19.47%

Sujata Gibson: 14.96%

Jordan A. Lesser: 14.91%

Jason Leifer: 5.95%

Beau A.C. Harbin: 4.90% 

Lisa W. Hoeschele: 3.74%

With 44 of 71 election districts reporting.

Assembly District 126, Republican Primary

John Lemondes Jr.: 59.55%

Daniel B. Fitzpatrick: 39.05%

With 74 out of 77 of election districts reporting.

With all absentee ballots counted, John Lemondes Jr., a retired Army colonel, defeated Daniel Fitzpatrick, Lafayette town supervisor, in the Republican primary to replace retiring Assembly Member Gary Finch in his four-county district including parts of Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland and Onondaga counties.

Assembly District 131, Republican Primary

Jeff L. Gallahan: 42.30%

Cindy Wade: 27.24%

Jeff Shipley: 20.08%

Ann Marie Heizmann: 7.36%

With 29 out of 111 election districts reporting.

Assembly District 134, Democratic Primary

Carolyn D. Carrol: 70.99%

Dylan P. Dailor: 16.61%

With 6 of 6 election districts reporting.

With Monroe County’s in-person, absentee and affidavit ballots counted, unofficial results have Carolyn Carrol leading the Democratic primary to replace retiring Republican Assembly Member Peter Lawrence in the Rochester-area district. Carrol, a fraud investigator, will face Republican Josh Jensen in November.

Assembly District 136, Democratic Primary 

Sarah Clark: 59.99%

Justin F. Wilcox: 27.74%

Nelson Lopatin: 5.19%

With 21 of 21 election districts reporting.

The local political establishment and organized labor backed Justin Wilcox, but Sarah Clark capitalized on some endorsements of her own, including former U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton. Clark fended off her two challengers according to unofficial results from the Monroe County Board of Elections, with in-person, absentee and affidavit ballots counted.

Assembly District 137, Democratic Primary

Demond L. Meeks: 45.52%

Ernest S. Flagler-Mitchell: 32.77%

Ann C. Lewis: 13.75%

Silvano D. Orsi: 2.60%

With 34 of 34 election districts reporting.

Demond Meeks, an organizer with 1199SEIU, looks poised to replace longtime Assembly Member David Gantt, who died on July 1. Unofficial results from Monroe County show Meeks with 45% of the vote, beating the county’s chosen candidate, Monroe County Legislator Ernest Flagler-Mitchell. No Republican candidate has emerged in the blue district.

Assembly District 138, Democratic Primary

Harry Bronson: 57.59%

Alex Yudelson: 37.96%

With 43 of 43 election districts reporting.

Assembly Member Harry Bronson fended off a challenge from Monroe County Democratic Party-backed challenger Alex Yudelson, who is chief of staff to Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren. Yudelson conceded to Bronson on July 8.

Assembly District 140, Democratic Primary

Kevin T. Stocker: 47.95%

William C. Conrad III: 47.89%

With 51 of 51 election districts reporting.

Assembly District 149, Democratic Primary

Jonathan D. Rivera: 47.69%

Adam L. Bojak: 26.93% 

Robert Quintana: 19.08%

With 54 of 54 election districts reporting.

Source: New York state Board of Elections, New York City Board of Elections, Monroe County Board of Elections

Zach Williams
is a staff reporter at City & State.
Kay Dervishi
is a staff reporter at City & State.
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