New York’s 2020 congressional primary election results

Who won and who lost in the pandemic primary?
Who won and who lost in the pandemic primary?
JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Who won and who lost in the pandemic primary?

New York’s 2020 congressional primary election results

Jamaal Bowman and Ritchie Torres celebrate early leads, Reps. Yvette Clarke and Jerry Nadler well ahead of challengers.
June 30, 2020

On Tuesday, an Election Day unlike any other, some New York primary voters who cast their ballots in person were met with confusion at poll sites, where poll workers sometimes reportedly handed voters incomplete ballots or incorrect ballots to fill out. And while the coronavirus pandemic positioned the June 23 primary as a test of what widespread mail-in voting could look like in New York, many voters who requested absentee ballots never received them, making them unable to vote or forcing them to vote in person.

But even in the face of these challenges, the pandemic primary carried on, as ballots cast in-person in the state’s 24 congressional primary races – and in one special election in the 27th Congressional District – were counted. Because of the pandemic, more than 1.6 million mail-in ballots were requested statewide – more than 10 times the number cast in the 2016 presidential election – and the process of tabulating those ballots isn’t expected to begin until Wednesday, July 1.

Matt Rey, a political consultant with Red Horse Strategies, told City & State he expected only 25% to 33% of total votes will be cast in-person, with the rest coming in by mail. That percentage will vary by race, but it means that it will be hard to draw conclusions based on primary night results alone. It could be weeks before winners are declared in some of these races.

Even so, as the results from ballots cast in-person were reported Tuesday night, some candidates celebrated early leads, if not definitive victories. Jamaal Bowman, the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-like challenger to longtime Rep. Eliot Engel, celebrated a hefty lead over Engel and declared himself the victor on June 24.

But while Bowman may indeed go on to achieve an AOC-like victory over Engel, other long-serving members of Congress appeared set to fend off challenges. With all in-person votes counted in the 10th Congressional District, Rep. Jerry Nadler maintained a nearly 40-point lead over two challengers. Rep. Yvette Clarke, facing what’s been characterized as a competitive primary challenge from Adem Bunkeddeko – a rematch from 2018 – nonetheless held a strong lead over Bunkeddeko and New York City Council Member Chaim Deutsch with all in-person votes counted. Other incumbents, like Reps. Gregory Meeks, Grace Meng and Nydia Velázquez seem well-positioned to coast to another term. 

New York will also be getting some new members of Congress. Even before absentee ballots have been counted, Republican state Sen. Chris Jacobs has been declared the winner of the special election to fill the Western New York seat vacated by former Rep. Chris Collins. In the crowded race to replace retiring Rep. José E. Serrano in the Bronx, New York City Council Member Ritchie Torres pulled ahead of his 11 opponents. And Mondaire Jones, a former attorney with the Westchester County Law Department, has a solid lead in the 17th Congressional District, where Rep. Nita Lowey is retiring.

Meanwhile, a rematch between Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Suraj Patel is too close to call, with all in-person votes counted and Patel less than 2 percentage points behind the 14-term congresswoman. And three Democrats on Long Island are in a tight race for the chance to take on Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin in November.

In other places, including the 8th, 18th, 20th, 21st, 23rd and 26th districts, no primary was held on Tuesday.

As election returns come in, and as candidates claim victory, City & State will be updating this tracker.

Congressional District 1 – Democratic Primary

Suffolk County

Perry Gershon: 34.90%

Nancy Goroff: 33.79%

Bridget Fleming: 27.44%

Gregory-John Fischer: 2.18%

With 473 of 473 election districts reporting.

With only partial results reported, it’s a very close race for the Democratic nomination. The winner will take on Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin in November. Perry Gershon came within 4 percentage points of beating Zeldin in 2018, but he may not even get the chance again this year, with strong preliminary showings from Bridget Fleming, a former prosecutor, and Nancy Goroff, a chemist.

Congressional District 2 – Republican Primary

Nassau and Suffolk counties

Andrew Garbarino: 60.94%

Michael LiPetri: 38%

With 524 of 524 election districts reporting.

It’s looking like the Long Island Republican machine still has some juice. Assembly Member Andrew Garbarino, backed by the Nassau and Suffolk counties’ Republican committee – and retiring incumbent Rep. Pete King – maintains a nearly 20-point lead over Assembly Member Mike LiPetri. LiPetri launched an outsider challenge to Garbarino but – in in-person votes at least – has so far failed to build the momentum necessary to take Pete King’s crown.

Congressional District 2 –Democratic Primary

Nassau and Suffolk counties

Jackie Gordon: 69.95%

Patricia Maher: 26.07%

With 524 of 524 election districts reporting.

Congressional District 3 – Democratic Primary

Nassau, Suffolk and Queens counties

Thomas Suozzi (incumbent): 56.83%

Melanie D’Arrigo: 32.69%

Michael Weinstock: 7.84%

With 636 of 636 election districts reporting.

Congressional District 4 – Republican Primary

Nassau County

Douglas Tuman: 71.97% 

Cindy Grosz: 24.36% 

With 652 of 652 election districts reporting.

Congressional District 5 – Democratic Primary

Queens and Nassau counties

Gregory Meeks (incumbent): 73.11%

Shaniyat Chowdhury: 21.42% 

With 492 of 492 election districts reporting.

Rep. Gregory Meeks, the 22-year incumbent from Southeast Queens, is a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee and a proud capitalist. He faced an Ocasio-Cortez-style challenge from Chowdhury, a bartender and member of the Democratic Socialists of America. But Chowdhury failed to gain the momentum necessary to topple the Queens County Democratic Party leader, and Meeks is on his way to an easy victory, with The Associated Press already calling the race in his favor.

Congressional District 6 – Democratic Primary

Queens

Grace Meng (incumbent): 56.99%

Melquiades Gagarin: 20.13%

Sandra Choi: 16.29% 

With 462 of 462 election districts reporting.

Rep. Grace Meng, the first and only Asian American member of Congress from New York, looks to be on her way to easily win reelection, despite challenges from two other Asian American candidates. The Associated Press has already called the race in her favor.

Congressional District 7 – Democratic Primary

Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens

Nydia Velázquez (incumbent): 73.52%

Paperboy Love Prince: 18.46% 

With 506 of 506 election districts reporting.

Paperboy Love Prince may be a multi-talented millennial, but he was new to the district and unaware of a highly controversial rezoning being considered in it when he launched his campaign. Though absentee ballots have yet to be counted in his bid to unseat longtime Rep. Nydia Velázquez, The Associated Press called the race for Velázquez, who amassed 74% of in-person votes. A 14-term incumbent, Velázquez will hold on to the Democratic nomination in the district, which includes the Lower East Side and much of North Brooklyn and much of the borough’s western waterfront.

Congressional District 9 – Democratic Primary

Brooklyn

Yvette Clarke (incumbent): 61.24% 

Adem Bunkeddeko: 17.57%

Chaim Deutsch: 9.28%

Isiah James: 9.20%

Lutchi Gayot: 1%

With 532 of 532 election districts reporting.

When four different candidates are all challenging the same incumbent, the math favors the incumbent. And with all the in-person votes counted in the Central Brooklyn district, seven-term incumbent Rep. Yvette Clarke has a commanding lead. Adem Bunkeddeko’s campaign team expects to do well with the absentee ballots, but the current 43 percentage-point gap will be nearly impossible to close. It seems that 2018, when Bunkeddeko lost to Clarke 53% to 47%, may have been his best shot to unseat her.

Congressional District 10 – Democratic Primary

Manhattan, Brooklyn

Jerrold Nadler (incumbent): 60.13%

Lindsey Boylan: 24.43%

Jonathan Herzog: 12.15%

With 559 of 559 election districts reporting.

It looks like Rep. Jerry Nadler will stick around, after all. Despite facing two primary challengers running to his left, Nadler maintained a nearly 36-point lead over his closest competitor as all ballots cast in-person were counted on Tuesday night. Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, came closest to unseating the longtime congressman from the West Side of Manhattan, with 24% of the vote, while Jonathan Herzog, a 25-year-old running on the Andrew Yang-backed policy of a universal basic income, received 12% of the vote. Nadler’s apparent victory on Tuesday makes it likely that he’ll also hold onto his powerful role as House Judiciary chairman. Still, with as much as two-third of the vote still yet to be counted – because of the number of voters casting mail-in ballots – Boylan didn’t appear ready to concede. “Going into tonight, we knew there would not be a decisive winner until all the mail in ballots are counted next week, she wrote on Twitter. “We’re confident that once all the votes are counted, the people’s voices will be heard loud and clear.”

Congressional District 11 – Republican Primary

Staten Island, Brooklyn

Nicole Malliotakis: 69.56%

Joseph Calderera: 29.24%

With 489 of 489 election districts reporting.

Assembly Member Nicole Malliotakis has had her eye on higher office for a while – she ran for mayor of New York City in 2017 – and now she’s one step closer to Congress. With all in-person ballots counted on Tuesday night, Malliotakis secured more than double the votes that her opponent, Joseph Calderera, did. Still, she’ll have to beat incumbent Democratic Rep. Max Rose in November to make it to D.C.

Congressional District 12 – Democratic Primary

Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn

Carolyn Maloney (incumbent): 40.34%

Suraj Patel: 38.75% 

Lauren Ashcraft: 12.90% 

Peter Harrison: 4.73%

With 569 of 569 election districts reporting.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney can’t rest easy for the next week: With all of the in-person votes counted, NYU professor Suraj Patel is within 2 percentage points of the 14-term incumbent. Patel challenged Maloney in 2018 and lost 59% to 40%. This year looks like it’ll be much closer, but a lot could change when mail-in ballots are counted. The affluent 12th Congressional District, which covers much of Manhattan’s East Side and a sliver of northwestern Brooklyn and northwestern Queens, had more absentee ballots requested than any other district in the city – more than 100,000. With just over 40,000 votes counted so far, this race is still very much up in the air.

Congressional District 13 – Democratic Primary

Manhattan, Bronx

Adriano Espaillat (incumbent): 54.71%

James Felton Keith: 22.04% 

Ramon Rodriguez: 16.38%

With 551 of 551 election districts reporting.

Rep. Adriano Espaillat, the two-term incumbent representing Upper Manhattan and part of the Bronx, will be the Democratic nominee in the heavily Democratic 10th Congressional District, The Associated Press reports.

Congressional District 14 – Democratic Primary

Queens, Bronx

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (incumbent): 69.47%

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera: 18.71%

Badrun Khan: 5.21% 

Samuel Sloan: 2.36%

With 449 of 449 election districts reporting.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won the Democratic primary in the 14th Congressional District, The Associated Press reported on June 24. It’s not surprising that Ocasio-Cortez drew a handful of Democratic primary challengers this year. As the biggest story to come out of 2018’s primaries after taking down former Rep. Joseph Crowley, Ocasio-Cortez was due for a challenge from a few competitors of her own. Even so, those challengers failed to amass the kind of support necessary to take down the popular – and well-funded – member of Congress. Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, the candidate who amassed the most votes after Ocasio-Cortez, ran to Ocasio-Cortez’s right, attacking her for being a “national celebrity” rather than a representative for the people of Queens and the Bronx.

Congressional District 15 – Democratic Primary

Bronx

Ritchie Torres: 29.02%

Michael Blake: 18.74% 

Rubén Díaz Sr.: 14.14%

Samelys López: 12.85% 

Ydanis Rodriguez: 11.38% 

Melissa Mark-Viverito: 3.79%
Tomas Ramos: 2.59%

Chivona Newsome: 2.55%

Marlene Tapper: 0.63% 

Julio Pabón: 0.40% 

Frangell Basora: 0.33%

Mark Escoffery-Bey: 0.28% 

With 490 of 490 election districts reporting.

The cowboy-hatted New York City Council Member Rubén Díaz Sr.’s power may have been overstated. Things could always change with the large percentage mail-in ballots expected, but with the in-person votes counted in the South Bronx, Díaz is in a distant third place in this closely watched primary to fill the retiring Rep. José E. Serrano’s seat. His council colleague, Ritchie Torres, massively outraised the crowded field and used that money to flood the district with TV ads, digital ads and supporters on Election Day. He’s now got a solid lead on the other candidates while the city awaits mail-in results.

Torres stayed humbled in an interview with NY1 Tuesday night. “I’m not prepared to declare victory until every vote is counted, but even if I win the election, it’s governing that matters,” he said. “It’s delivering results for the everyday people of the South Bronx.” Assembly Member Michael Blake, who rolled out an impressive array of endorsements in the last week, is currently in second.

Congressional District 16 – Democratic Primary

Bronx, Westchester County

Jamaal Bowman: 58.59% 

Eliot Engel (incumbent): 35.52%

Chris Fink: 1.96%

Sammy Ravelo: 1.19% 

Andom Ghebreghiorgis: 0.67%

With 732 of 732 election districts reporting.

“Bowmentum?” Middle school principal Jamaal Bowman has built up a huge lead over the 16-term incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel. It’s still early, with the 64,000 requested absentee ballots yet to be opened and counted, but Engel may be the latest incumbent to lose his seat to a progressive challenger. Bowman, who was supported by a progressive coalition over the more moderate Engel, declared victory on June 24, releasing a statement saying that “many doubted that we could overcome the power and money of a 31-year incumbent. But the results show that the people of NY-16 aren’t just ready for change – they’re demanding it.”

Congressional District 17 – Democratic Primary

Westchester and Rockland counties

Mondaire Jones: 42.47% 

Adam Schleifer: 18.72% 

David Carlucci: 11.13% 

Evelyn Farkas: 9.74% 

David Buchwald: 6.20% 

Asha Castleberry: 3.13%

Catherine Parker: 2.19% 

Allison Fine: 1.75%

With 398 of 398 election districts reporting.

Election watchers will have to wait for the final results in this closely watched race to replace the retiring Rep. Nita Lowey. But with all the in-person votes counted, former Westchester County Law Department attorney Mondaire Jones has a substantial lead, up more than 23 percentage points on the second-place candidate, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Schleifer. About 32,000 people voted in person, but more than 65,000 absentee ballots were requested, so it’s likely the results will be looking different once those are counted. But with such a lead, it seems that the progressive favorite, Jones, may be on his way to becoming, along with Ritchie Torres, the first openly gay Black members of Congress.

Congressional District 17 – Republican Primary

Westchester and Rockland counties

Maureen McArdle Schulman: 67.31%

Yehudis Gottesfeld: 17.81%

With 398 of 398 election districts reporting.

Congressional District 19 – Republican Primary

Upper Hudson Valley and the Catskills

Ola Hawatmeh: 49.66% 

Kyle Van De Water: 45.37% 

With 330 of 330 election districts reporting.

Congressional District 22 – Republican Primary

Central New York

Claudia Tenney: 68.80% 

George Phillips: 30.06% 

With 452 of 484 election districts reporting.

Congressional District 24 – Democratic Primary

Central New York

Dana Balter: 62.38% 

Francis Conole: 34.32%

With 297 of 297 election districts reporting.

With all the in-person votes counted, Syracuse University professor Dana Balter seems well on her way to a rematch against Republican Rep. John Katko.

Congressional District 25 – Democratic Primary

Monroe County

Joseph Morelle (incumbent): 62.73% 

Robin Wilt: 34.14% 

With 120 of 120 election districts reporting.

Congressional District 27 – Special Election

Western New York

Chris Jacobs (R): 68.66%

Nate McMurray (D): 28.70% 

With 292 of 342 election districts reporting.

It looks like Republican state Sen. Chris Jacobs is going to Congress – at least for a few months. The Associated Press called the special election to replace former Rep. Chris Collins – who pleaded guilty to charges of insider trading last fall – for Jacobs. With well over half of in-person votes counted, Jacobs carried a nearly 40-point lead over Democrat Nate McMurray. Still, McMurray has yet to concede, saying that victory can’t be declared until absentee ballots are counted. Even with Jacobs’ win, he still has to win in November’s general election if he wants to spend more than a few months in Washington. He cleared the first hurdle, beating challengers in Tuesday’s Republican primary to appear on the ticket in the fall.

Congressional District 27 – Republican Primary

Western New York

Chris Jacobs: 60.51

Beth Parlato: 20.31%

Stefan Mychajilw Jr.: 16.99%

With 263 of 313 election districts reporting.

The Associated Press called the Republican primary in the 27th District for Jacobs, who held a 41-point lead over his closest opponent with more than half of in-person votes counted. 

Congressional District 27 – Libertarian Primary

Western New York

Duane Whitmer: 71.27% 

Nicholas Phelps: 21.55% 

With 259 of 309 election districts reporting.

Sources: New York State Board of Elections, Monroe County Board of Elections

Annie McDonough
Annie McDonough
is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.
Jeff Coltin
is a senior reporter at City & State. He covers New York City Hall.
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