So, after the Congressional primaries are over, in New York’s 4th CD, it’ll be Democrat Kathleen Rice vs. the former Chairman of the Nassau County Legislature, Republican Bruce Blakeman. Since leaving the legislature a long time ago, Blakeman has made two unsuccessful runs for higher office. I have no inside knowledge of this or any other race, but at a guess, I’d say Blakeman’s name recognition is much lower than Rice’s.
The seat is already in Democratic hands. It’s open because nine-term incumbent Carolyn McCarthy is retiring. Voter enrollment leans Democratic too, but it is winnable for Republicans because the number of voters who aren’t registered in one party or the other is larger than the difference between Democratic and Republican tallies. At this point, and without the benefit of polling data, I’m guessing that Blakeman has to be considered the underdog.
While I’m sure the local GOP hierarchy would be happy to gain the seat in Congress, I don’t think Republican powers that be would be unhappy if Rice won this election. Why? Because that would mean an election for Nassau County District Attorney unencumbered by a three-term incumbent. As a general rule, incumbents have a built in advantage when seeking reelection.
Republican primaries are pretty unusual in New York, but this year, not so much. On Long Island’s east end, Republican State Senator Lee Zeldin defeated insurgent George Demos to win the GOP nomination in the 1st CD. He now faces an uphill battle against six term Democratic Congressman Tim Bishop in the fall. Because Zeldin is now a two-term State Senator, he ought to do better than he did the first time the two squared off in 2008 when Bishop beat the then novice by 50,000 votes. Still, as the race begins I’d call Bishop the favorite.
Upstate, in the 22nd CD, Republican State Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney didn’t duplicate Dave Brat’s surprise win against Eric Cantor in Virginia. Like Brat, Tenney is more conservative than the incumbent she challenged. Republican Congressman Richard Hanna outpolled Tenney 53-47% . A six point difference isn’t considered particularly close. The 22nd CD covers eight counties in the Syracuse area. There is no Democrat running in the November election, so Hanna’s primary victory is tantamount to election.
In New York City, 22-term Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel claimed victory in an Democratic Primary against challenger, State Senator Adriano Espiallat. The City Board of Elections hasn’t declared a victor because absentee and affidavit ballots have yet to be counted. Unless you were in the North Korean Army during the Korean war, if you’ve ever met Charlie Rangel, he has charmed you. Once one of the most powerful men in Congress, Rangel’s influence has diminished as his later years have been marred by ethical problems. The ethnic nature of his district has also changed. Once almost exclusively African-American, Hispanics now make up the majority of the voting population. If Rangel is reelected, he is expected to wrap up his career and not seek reelection in 2016.
If you live in New York and like primaries, there are still lots of possibilities. Party nomination for state offices are up for grabs in September.