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.
August 6, 2020

In the midst of a global pandemic, the June 23 primary left a number of state lawmakers at risk of losing their seats – although an influx of uncounted absentee ballots made it hard to tell who ultimately would be the victor, even in races where candidates had strong leads. Once all the votes were tallied, some challengers held their leads, and several came from behind for upset victories against incumbents.

Assembly Members Aravella Simotas, Michael DenDekker, Michael Miller were all bested after trailing badly on election night. Meanwhile, Assembly Members Walter Mosley, Joseph Lentol and Felix Ortiz saw their election night leads evaporate as their opponents closed the difference and overcame them as absentee ballots were counted.

Phara Souffrant Forrest, who beat Mosley, was one of several challengers endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America. Zohran Mamdani, who defeated Simotas in her Western Queens district, and Jabari Brisport, who won 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 ousted longtime white male incumbents. Jenifer Rajkumar beat Miller, while Jessica González-Rojas defeated DenDekker.

And in another set of intriguing races, three ex-lawmakers – Eric Stevenson, Hiram Monserrate and Jesse Hamilton – all fell well 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 June 23 primary, all vying to take over their seats in the general election. These results have been updated as of Aug. 6.

STATE SENATE

State Senate District 1, Democratic Primary

Laura A. Ahearn: 34.26%

Valerie M. Cartright: 26.71%

Thomas Schiavoni: 23.67%

Skyler Johnson: 11.49%

Nora Higgins: 3.87%

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. 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: 78.84%

Ignazio Terranova: 20.91%

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: 86.61%

Andy Marte: 13.10%

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: 57.56%

Tremaine Wright: 34.49%

Jason Salmon: 7.36%

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 was trying to avoid an embarrassing loss to Brisport, who had the backing of the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

State Senate District 38, Democratic Primary

Elijah Reichlin-Melnick: 44.91%

Justin L. Sweet: 35.96%

Eudson T. Francois: 17.55%

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 after the in-person votes were 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.: 69.88%

Matthew R. Weinberg: 28.52%

With 68 of 68 election districts reporting.

State Senate District 56, Democratic Primary

Jeremy A. Cooney: 53.88%

Hilda Enid Rosario Escher: 23.65%

Sherita S. Traywick: 22.42%

With 40 of 40 election districts reporting.

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

State Senate District 61, Democratic Primary

Jacqualine Berger 38.76%

Kim Smith 38.13%

Joan Elizabeth Seamans 23.03%

Jacqualine Berger, a town board member and deputy supervisor in Amherst, 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: 37.15%

Richard David: 28.87%

Lisa George: 18.96%

Shea Uzoigwe: 7.19%

Derrick DeFlorimonte: 4.09%

Tavia Blakley: 3.56%

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 Assembly’s youngest member.

Assembly District 34, Democratic Primary

Jessica González-Rojas: 41.47%

Michael DenDekker: 24.09%

Joy Chowdhury: 14.78%

Nuala O’Doherty-Naranjo: 13.67%

Angel Cruz: 5.88%

With 73 of 73 election districts reporting.

Despite having a fundraising advantage and the backing of notable unions, Assembly Member Michael DenDekker found himself losing to a progressive challenger this year. The former executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Jessica González-Rojas, beat him by more than 17 points after all the votes were counted. The three other competitors hoping to unseat the incumbent haven’t fared nearly as well so far.

Assembly District 35, Democratic Primary

Jeffrion Aubry: 65.13%

Hiram Monserrate: 34.57%

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 did not have a stomach for a convict who allegedly assaulted his girlfriend. Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry prevailed with a decisive victory.

Assembly District 36, Democratic Primary

Zohran Mamdani: 51.20%

Aravella Simotas: 48.62%

With 83 of 83 election districts reporting.

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 decreased slightly to about 400, but the margin was high enough to avoid a recount.

Assembly District 37, Democratic Primary

Catherine Nolan: 47.72%

Mary Jobaida: 36.71%

Danielle Brecker: 15.34%

With 88 of 88 election districts reporting.

Assembly District 38, Democratic Primary

Jenifer Rajkumar: 51.19%

Michael Miller: 25.20%

Joseph De Jesus: 22.69%

With 71 of 71 election districts reporting.

Final results showed Assembly Member Michael Miller with about 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 was further emphasized by the fact that he only led the third place candidate, Joseph “Joey” De Jesus, by less than 3 percentage points.

Assembly District 40, Democratic Primary

Ron Kim: 70.26%

Steven Lee: 29.44%

With 60 of 60 election districts reporting.

Assembly District 43, Democratic Primary

Diana Richardson: 74.65%

Jesse Hamilton: 25.09%

With 87 of 87 election districts reporting.

Assembly Member Diana Richardson successfully quashed a challenge from Jesse Hamilton, who was looking to stage a comeback to the state Legislature after losing his state Senate seat in 2018. Not only did she have the backing from many fellow elected officials, she also got a surge in publicity in the weeks leading up to the election 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

Emily Gallagher: 51.20%

Joseph Lentol: 47.55%

Emily Gallagher was looking to make the jump from local community board to the state Legislature by running to the left of Assembly Member Joseph Lentol, who has represented the district for the past four decades. On election night, she trailed by over 1,700 votes with about 42% 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: 34.86%

Félix W. Ortiz: 32.22% 

Katherine P. Walsh: 23.66% 

Genesis E. Aquino: 9.06% 

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.

Assembly District 56, Democratic Primary

Stefani L. Zinerman: 56.69%

Justin Cohen: 42.72%

With 92 of 92 election districts reporting.

Local officials backed Stefani Zinerman to replace outgoing Assembly Member Tremaine Wright in this central Brooklyn district, and she came out on top despite Justin Cohen having raised enough money to compete and the potential that he could perform well in gentrifying areas of the district.

Assembly District 57, Democratic Primary

Phara Souffrant Forrest: 55.14%

Walter Mosley: 44.38%

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, succeeding with nearly 3,000 more votes than Assembly Member Walter Mosley after all the absentee ballots were counted. Souffrant Forrest had the support of the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, while Mosley was backed by the Working Families Party.

Assembly District 65, Democratic Primary

Yuh-Line Niou: 64.98%

Grace Lee: 35.65%

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.

Assembly District 68, Democratic Primary

Robert Rodriguez: 55.77%

Tamika Mapp: 43.89%

With 115 of 115 election districts reporting.

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

Assembly District 73, Democratic Primary

Dan Quart: 65.96%

Cameron Alex Koffman: 33.67%

With 107 of 107 election districts reporting.

This was 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 have been a shoo-in for reelection except that he has already announced a run for Manhattan district attorney, which opened him up to attacks from the challenger. But Quart ultimately won.

Assembly District 79, Democratic Primary

Chantel Jackson: 25.93% 

Cynthia L. Cox: 22.89% 

George A. Alvarez: 21.63% 

Elvis Santana: 13.53%

Eric Stevenson: 12.18% 

Dion Powell: 3.61%

With 90 of 90 election districts reporting.

Chantel Jackson enjoyed the backing of outgoing Assembly Member Michael Blake in the six-way race for this South Bronx district, and an election night lead. Four other candidates seemed like they could have still been in the running with absentees, including former Assembly Member Eric Stevenson attempting to win his old seat back. But Jackson maintained her lead in the final results.

Assembly District 85, Democratic Primary

Kenneth Burgos: 61.55%

William Russell Moore: 38.06%

With 85 of 85 election districts reporting.

Kenneth Burgos will likely take over the seat formerly held by his boss, Assembly Member Marcos Crespo, by securing the Democratic nomination. He had a strong financial advantage over his opponent and grew a comfortable lead after election night.

Assembly District 93, Democratic Primary

Chris Burdick: 33.74%

Kristen P. Browde: 31.32%

Jeremiah Frei-Pearson: 19%

Alex E. Roithmayr: 8.37%

Mark Jaffe: 7.45%

With 116 of 116 election districts reporting.

Assembly District 122, Republican Primary

Joe G. Angelino: 72.09%

Nicholas R. Libous: 16.43%

James P. Powers: 5.85%

Victor Furman: 5.64%

With 98 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: 35.99%

Seph Murtagh: 21.82%

Jordan A. Lesser: 14.67%

Sujata Gibson: 11.47%

Jason Leifer: 6.19%

Beau A.C. Harbin: 5.01% 

Lisa W. Hoeschele: 4.80%

With 71 of 71 election districts reporting.

Assembly District 126, Republican Primary

John Lemondes Jr.: 56.88%

Daniel B. Fitzpatrick: 42.68%

With 77 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: 38.51%

Cindy Wade: 34.06%

Jeff Shipley: 17.23%

Ann Marie Heizmann: 10.09%

With 111 of 111 election districts reporting.

Assembly District 134, Democratic Primary

Carolyn D. Carrol: 78.79%

Dylan P. Dailor: 21.11%

With 6 of 6 election districts reporting.

With Monroe County’s in-person, absentee and affidavit ballots counted, official 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: 63.42%

Justin F. Wilcox: 27.73%

Nelson Lopatin: 8.78%

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 official results from the Monroe County Board of Elections, with in-person, absentee and affidavit ballots counted.

Assembly District 137, Democratic Primary

Demond L. Meeks: 44.07%

Ernest S. Flagler-Mitchell: 33.21%

Ann C. Lewis: 19.31%

Silvano D. Orsi: 3.39%

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. Official 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: 57.29%

Alex Yudelson: 42.65%

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

William C. Conrad III: 54.12%

Kevin T. Stocker: 45.44%

With 51 of 51 election districts reporting.

Assembly District 149, Democratic Primary

Jonathan D. Rivera: 52.88%

Adam L. Bojak: 30.41% 

Robert Quintana: 15.94%

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