Between the weirdly unseasonable timing and the minimal press attention, you might not know it, but today is primary day in New York’s congressional and senate races.
Given the city’s one-party monoculture, the primary races are generally where he action is. Here’s a quick guide to the races being decided today.
In the13th District, 40-year incumbent Charlie Rangel is fighting for his life after an unfavorable round of redistricting and a raft of ethics scandals.
He’s challenged by Adriano Espaillat, Joyce Johnson, Craig Schley, and Clyde Williams. The strongest of the bunch is probably Espaillat, a state senator whose Dominican background positions him well in an increasingly Dominican district.
In the 6th District which stretches from Elmhurst to Bayside in Queens, City Council member Liz Crowley is running against Assembly members Rory Lancman and Grace Meng, as well as allergist and political Robert Mittman. Presumed front-runners Lancman and Meng have been running on ethnic identity as much as policy platforms, with with Lancman hammering on Israel in what has historically been a Jewish district, while Meng raises hopes of becoming New York’s first Asian-American representative.
In the 8th District, which encompasses Fort Greene, Bed-Stuy, East New York and Coney Island, Assemblyman Hakeem Jefferies is up against City Council member Charles Barron. Jeffries is younger and more moderate in his speech, and enjoys the backing of much of the Democratic establishment. Barron is a firebrand whose criticism of Israeli policy and bizarre flirtation with Robert Mugabe have cost him support in some circles.
In the new 7th District, which stretches from Sunset Park through Brownstone Brooklyn, and the Lower East Side, to Williamsburg, Bushwick and Woodhaven, another longtime veteran, Nydia Velazquez, is facing challengers. City Council member Erik Dilan is backed by Velazquez’s nemesis, Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Vito Lopez (as well as some serious real estate money.)
Also running is Dan O’Connor, a consultant for Chinese finance companies, and Occupy Wall Street activist George Martinez. We wrote about Martinez in our cover story last week, and also covered the trouble he was having getting into the NY1 debate. NY1 eventually relented and allowed Martinez into the debate.
The challengers are trying to capitalize on a strange sequence in last week’s debate, when Martinez mentioned that Velazquez (who counts financial companies as her top donors) voted to repeal Glass Steagall, effectively setting the stage for the current financial crisis. Velazquez forcefully denied having voted to deregulate the banking industry, and only after the debate did her campaign acknowledge that in fact that’s exactly how she voted.
If you want to know more about who’s got the money in these races and where it’s coming from, the Center for Responsive Politics can help you out.
Polls are open until 9 p.m.