Congressional races may be the talk of the town with New York playing a pivotal role in Democrats’ attempts to win back the House, but don’t forget that state lawmakers also have their own elections this year. Democrats maintain supermajorities in both the state Senate and the Assembly, but some losses last cycle tightened their margins slightly, particularly in the Assembly. On top of that, the Assembly also has new district lines to run in – although they’re largely similar to the districts used last cycle, so the impact will likely be minimal.
Congressional races are having an impact on state legislative races, as some seats open up as lawmakers try their hands at running for federal office. Other legislators have announced their retirement and endorsed their preferred successors in the open races to replace them. Some districts will have competitive primary elections, with involvement from the Democratic Socialists of America, while in others, the main contest will be between Democrats and Republicans in November. As the election cycle begins in earnest, here are some of the state legislative races to watch across the state. This story was last updated on Feb. 26.
Long Island, including Hempstead, Rockville Center, Freeport and Garden City
Incumbent: Kevin Thomas, who is running for Congress
With state Sen. Kevin Thomas giving up his seat, there will now be a competitive open race to replace him. Not long after his announcement, Assembly Member Taylor Darling said she would seek to represent the district in the upper chamber, and she already has Thomas’ endorsement. Nassau County Legislator Siela Bynoe also announced that she will run. Once a swing district, Thomas won his seat in 2018 and has held on to it by comfortable margins the past two election cycles, even when conservative groups spent big money trying to unseat him. Although Republicans may see it as an opportunity to flip a Democratic seat, they’ll still face an uphill battle for the district that has become more comfortably blue, especially in a presidential election year.
Long Island, north shore from Great Neck to Laurel Hollow
Incumbent: Jack Martins
Former Democratic Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan recently announced that he would take on Republican state Sen. Jack Martins. Lafazan’s decision came not long after he dropped out of the race for the 3rd Congressional District and endorsed former Rep. Tom Suozzi. Lafazan previously ran for Congress in 2022, but lost in the Democratic primary. Kim Keiserman, president of the Port Washington Democrats, entered the race in December and has already racked up support from numerous local officials. Democrat Brad Schwartz also launched a run in December. Martins won his old seat in 2022, the same year that Republicans enjoyed a “red wave” in New York that helped them win control of the House. The seat has swung back and forth between Democrats and Republicans for years, so a strong bid from a Democrat during an election year generally considered more favorable to Democrats could pose a challenge for Martins.
Hudson Valley, including most of Rockland
Incumbent: Bill Weber
Constituents in Rockland are in for a rematch as former Democratic state Sen. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick is challenging Republican state Sen. Bill Weber for his old seat. Reichlin-Melnick first won the district in 2020, a good year electorally for Democrats in the state Legislature. But after only one term, Weber bested him to flip the seat red, one of a handful of downstate suburban losses Democrats suffered in 2022. Now, Reichlin-Melnick is trying to win back his place in the state Senate, and may benefit from a presidential-year boost he did not have last time.
Hudson Valley, including much of Orange County, Poughkeepsie and Cold Spring
Incumbent: Rob Rolison
Redistricting created a new Hudson Valley district in 2022 that on paper appeared to favor Democrats. But Republican state Sen. Rob Rolison, who had been mayor of Poughkeepsie, won the seat. Now, the minority leader of the Dutchess County Legislature is seeking to flip the seat Democratic. Yvette Valdés Smith announced her campaign against Rolison in late January, entering the race with endorsements from Rep. Pat Ryan and Assembly Member Dana Levenberg.
Capital District, including Albany, Amsterdam and Rotterdam
Incumbent: Neil Breslin, who is retiring
After months of speculation, Democratic state Sen. Neil Breslin announced that he would not seek reelection. In office since 1997, he’s currently the longest-serving lawmaker in the chamber. Almost immediately after Breslin announced he would retire, the Albany Democratic Party voted to endorse Assembly Member Pat Fahy. Although the Democratic establishment quickly lined up behind her as the heir apparent, not all Democrats were pleased with the speed at which it happened.
Western New York, including most of Buffalo
Incumbent: Tim Kennedy, who is running for Congress
State Sen. Tim Kennedy announced in November that he will run to replace Rep. Brian Higgins, who is expected to retire in February to lead Shea’s Performing Arts Center. On Jan. 11, Kennedy received Erie County Democrats’ blessing to be their nominee for the special election. Buffalo Common Council Member Mitch Nowakowski announced late last year that he would seek Kennedy’s seat in the state Senate, as did Erie County Legislature Chair April Baskin. So there will likely be a competitive Democratic primary for the state Senate seat.
Long Island, north shore Suffolk County including Port Jefferson and Coram
Incumbent: Ed Flood
First-term Republican Assembly Member Ed Flood unseated longtime former Democratic Assembly Member Steven Englebright in 2022 – and now Democrats are looking to take back the seat. Already, two Democrats have announced bids for the district: Skyler Johnson, who is the chair of the Suffolk Young Democrats and launched his campaign in November, and village of Port Jefferson Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kassay, who announced that she had entered the race shortly before that.
Long Island, Nassau County including Hempstead and Freeport
Incumbent: Taylor Darling, who is running for state Senate
This Long Island district is currently represented by Democrat Taylor Darling, but her decision to run for the state Senate means that it will open up this year for new representation. So far, no candidate appears to have publicly announced a bid for the seat.
Queens, including East Elmhurst, LaGuardia Airport and Citi Field
Incumbent: Jeffrion Aubry, who is retiring
Longtime Democratic Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry, who also serves as the voice of Assembly proceedings, announced that he would retire and immediately endorsed Democrat Larinda Hooks to replace him. The seat is heavily Democratic and historically has not been competitive in the general election, but perennial candidate and disgraced former lawmaker Hiram Monserrate is expected to run in the Democratic primary again. Aubry defeated the former state senator twice, and Monserrate most recently was kicked off the ballot when he tried to run for the New York City Council. But an open race could give him a chance.
Queens, including Long Island City, Sunnyside and Ridgewood
Incumbent: Juan Ardila
A Democratic primary to unseat disgraced Assembly Member Juan Ardila is officially shaping up, pitting the Democratic Socialists of America against a candidate closer to the Queens Democratic Party. Ardila’s fundraising and presence has been almost nonexistent following allegations of sexual harassment and assault – and numerous calls for his resignation. The New York City DSA endorsed union organizer Claire Valdez to replace him. Johanna Carmona, who previously ran for the seat in 2022, officially launched her campaign as well, kicking off what will likely be a competitive Democratic primary in the heart of Queens’ progressive movement.
Queens, including Flushing
Incumbent: Ron Kim
Queens Assembly Member Ron Kim just squeaked by in 2022, nearly getting unseated by Republican challenger Sharon Liao and winning by only about 2 percentage points. Kim already faces a Democratic primary challenge from Yi Andy Chen, who previously ran for City Council in 2021. Perennial candidate Dao Yin has also announced a campaign against Kim, although a Republican challenger does not appear to have emerged yet.
Brooklyn, including Bay Ridge and Coney Island
Incumbent: Alec Brook-Krasny
Republican Assembly Member Alec Brook-Krasny reclaimed his old seat in 2022, after leaving the Democratic Party to become a Republican. But he faces a strong challenge from Chris McCreight, who served as chief of staff to Democratic New York City Council Member Justin Brannan. McCreight has lined up an impressive series of endorsements, including U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, New York State Attorney General Letitia James and Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. Southern Brooklyn has trended toward the right in recent years, but Brannan handily beat Democrat-turned-Republican Ari Kagan in last year’s City Council race, and now McCreight is hoping to repeat his old boss’s strategy.
Brooklyn, including Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights
Incumbent: Stefani Zinerman
The DSA is expected to throw its weight behind candidate Eon Huntley’s bid to unseat Assembly Member Stefani Zinerman. The organization has had a solid – though not perfect – track record with the candidates it chooses to endorse, including against incumbents. The Assembly district overlaps with that of state Sen. Jabari Brisport, a DSA lawmaker who in 2022 fended off a challenger who had the support of New York City Mayor Eric Adams. The DSA could be looking to further expand its influence in Brooklyn, and its support of Huntley may result in a highly competitive race for Zinerman.
Manhattan, including East Harlem and Randalls Island
Incumbent: Eddie Gibbs
Assembly Member Eddie Gibbs made history when he became the first Black lawmaker to represent his historically Latino East Harlem district in half a century, winning a 2022 special election to replace Robert Rodriguez, who left to become Gov. Kathy Hochul’s secretary of state. Early in January, Manhattan Community Board 11 Chair Xavier Santiago announced his campaign in a bid that could see the return of the Latino representation to the district.
Manhattan, including Morningside Heights and the Upper West Side
Incumbent: Danny O’Donnell, who is retiring
The Upper West Side will soon have new representation after Democratic Assembly Member Danny O’Donnell announced that he would not seek reelection this year. A competitive Democratic primary is already shaping up to replace him. In November, public defender Eli Northrup launched his campaign for the seat. About a month later, real estate lobbyist Melissa Rosenberg added her own name to the mix, as did former community board chair Barry Weinberg. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s former Policy Director Micah Lasher, who had been rumored for weeks to be interested in the seat, finally jumped into the race in January and immediately received a slew of endorsements. Carmen Quinones, a NYCHA tenant association president in the district, is the latest to announce a bid for the Assembly seat.
Manhattan, including West Harlem and Central Harlem
Incumbent: Inez Dickens, who is retiring
Assembly Member Inez Dickens has announced that she will not run for reelection, and five candidates are vying to replace her. The likely front-runner is Jordan Wright, who formally launched his campaign in February. Wright is the former campaign manager for Council Member Yusef Salaam (whose district overlaps with this one) and the son of powerful Manhattan Democratic Party leader Keith Wright. Other candidates include Maria Ordoñez, a former City Council candidate who is a member of DSA but has not been endorsed by the organization; Joshua Clennon, the former political director and vice president of the Manhattan Young Democrats; Shana Harmongoff, a former staffer for then-state Sen. Brian Benjamin; and Craig Schley, a Justice Department staff attorney.
Bronx, including Co-Op City and Pelham Bay
Incumbent: Michael Benedetto
For the second cycle in a row, Assembly Member Michael Benedetto will face a Democratic primary challenge from progressive Jonathan Soto. Although Benedetto easily held off Soto’s campaign in 2022, when Soto was part of a slate of candidates that received strong support from the Working Families Party to unseat incumbents, the DSA endorsed Soto this year. The organization does not currently have any associated state legislators from the Bronx, so the election could prove to be an important new expansion into the borough.
Parts of Rockland County, including New City and Haverstraw
Incumbent: Kenneth Zebrowski, who is not seeking reelection
To the surprise of many, Democratic Assembly Member Kenneth Zebrowski announced he wouldn’t run for reelection this year after serving nine terms in the Legislature. Almost immediately, Town of Clarkstown Democratic Council Member Patrick Carroll announced his candidacy. Zebrowski comfortably carried the district in 2022 against Republican challenger and former Pomona Mayor Brett Yagel. However this year with an open field, his advantages will be less of a certainty for Carroll.
Hudson Valley from Gardiner to Saugerties and parts of Dutchess County
Incumbent: Sarahana Shrestha
First-term Democratic incumbent Sarahana Shrestha is facing a challenge from Gabi Madden, the former chief of staff to former Assembly Member Kevin Cahill. When Shrestha made her shocking ascent to public office in 2022, she ousted Cahill, beating him in a close Democratic primary. Madden appears to have support from neighboring elected officials but Shrestha won in 2022 on the back of progressive supporters looking to break the status quo.
Hudson Valley from parts of Poughkeepsie to Hudson
Incumbent: Didi Barrett
Ten-year Democratic incumbent Didi Barrett is facing a challenge from Working Families Party-backed Claire Cousin. Cousin is a millennial nonprofit executive director who has served as a Columbia County supervisor. It’ll be an uphill battle to unseat Barrett, but Cousin is hoping to replicate the success of fellow lefty Sarahana Shrestha, who defeated longtime incumbent Kevin Cahill in a neighboring district in 2022.
Capital District, parts of Albany
Incumbent: Pat Fahy, who is running for state Senate
Democratic Assembly Member Pat Fahy’s decision to run for state Senate when Breslin announced he would retire means that her own seat is now up for grabs. But unlike with the state Senate seat, local Democrats did not move quickly to line up behind a successor, so a competitive primary will likely emerge. The district itself is heavily Democratic, so the victor in the primary will likely replace Fahy. Owusu Anane, an Albany Common Council member, has filed with the state Board of Elections and officially launched his campaign in mid-February. Albany County Legislator Dustin Reidy has also filed to run for the seat.
Western New York, including the area south of Rochester
Incumbent: Marjorie Byrnes, who is retiring
Republican Assembly Member Marjorie Byrnes announced in early January she would not seek reelection, opening up her district to new representation. The seat leans somewhat conservative, so Republicans may not be in much danger of losing the seat. With her retirement, Byrnes also endorsed Livingston County Clerk Andrea Bailey to replace her.