Albany Agenda

New York state Legislature 2024 races to watch

Here are some of the challenges, swing districts and open seats to keep an eye on.

The Assembly chamber could be filled with new faces after this year’s elections.

The Assembly chamber could be filled with new faces after this year’s elections. Mike Groll/Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul

Early voting has begun for the primaries taking place on June 25, and there are a lot of races to pay attention to around New York.

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 we approach primary day, here are some of the state legislative races to watch across the state. This story was last updated on June 18. 

State Senate primaries

District 6

Long Island, including Hempstead, Rockville Center, Freeport and Garden City

Incumbent: Kevin Thomas, leaving the Legislature 

Two Democrats are vying to replace state Sen. Kevin Thomas after he was redistricted out of his seat. Assembly Member Taylor Darling, who represents part of the district in the lower chamber, quickly announced her candidacy and gained Thomas’ endorsement. After her announcement, Nassau County Legislator Siela Bynoe jumped into the race, turning it into a competitive two-person primary. Both candidates qualified for matching funds under the state’s fledgling public campaign finance program, Bynoe has come very close to the $375,000 max out for the primary. Darling meanwhile has so far qualified for a little over $200,000 in public dollars. With just a handful of days left before Election Day, Darling reported having about $240,000 on hand to spend, while Bynoe reported $297,000. Bynoe has so far outraised and outspent Darling in the race, and has received a $5,000 from Nassau Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs, according to filings.

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.

District 7

Long Island, north shore from Great Neck to Laurel Hollow

Incumbent: Jack Martins

Republican state Sen. Jack 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 a presidential election year generally considered more favorable to Democrats could pose a challenge for Martins. 

Kim Keiserman, president of the Port Washington Democrats, entered the race in December and has racked up support from numerous local officials. She has also engaged in some formidable fundraising and is close to maxing out in public matching funds. Keiserman had about $85,000 on hand in her last filing before the primary. After another contender dropped out earlier this year, the primary became a two-way fight between her and Democrat Brad Schwartz, who launched a run in December. He previously sought the seat in 2018, but dropped out before the primary to endorse former state Sen. Anna Kaplan. He’s trying again this year with the support of the Working Families Party and a $150,000 loan from his mother. Schwartz had a little over $120,000 to spend at the start of June.

District 50

Central New York, including the suburbs of Syracuse

Incumbent: John Mannion, who is running for Congress

State Sen. John Mannion is trying his hand at a congressional run, leaving his Senate seat open this year in what could prove to be a very tight race. He only won his reelection in 2022 by 10 votes, so the contest to replace him will likely get competitive. Two Democrats will face off in the June primary. Onondaga County Legislature Minority Leader Chris Ryan has the backing of his county’s Democratic Party, while former Oswego County Legislature Minority Leader Tom Drumm has the support of his county. Heading into the primary, Ryan reported over $179,000 in his war chest, having so far received about $150,000 in public matching funds. Drumm, meanwhile, had under $14,000 to spend and has gotten about $170,000 in matching dollars. The winner will face off against Republican Town of Salina Supervisor Nick Paro, who has no primary after the only other candidate dropped out.

Assembly primaries

District 4

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. 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. Heading into the primary, Kassay had a little over $52,000 on hand to spend and has come close to hitting the $175,000 to max out in matching funds with about $158,000. Johnson is in a similar boat with about $58,000 on hand and has gotten about $124,000 in public dollars.

District 18

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. A Democratic primary is shaping up after Hempstead village trustee Noah Burroughs and Lakeview Public Library Board President Lisa Ortiz. She reported over $66,000 in her campaign war chest at the start of June and has received about $105,000 in public dollars. Burroughs meanwhile has a little under $45,000 to spend and has gotten over $62,000 in match funds.

District 35

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 vying for the seat 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. A key difference between that has emerged is their position on a casino in their district – Hooks supports the plan while Monserrate opposes it. At the start of June, Hooks had a little under $45,000 on hand and has gotten about $49,000 in public matching funds. Monserrate reported being a little over $2,300 in debt, but has received about $115,000 in public dollars for his campaign.

District 37

Queens, including Long Island City, Sunnyside and Ridgewood

Incumbent: Juan Ardila

A Democratic primary to unseat disgraced Assembly Member Juan Ardila is well underway, 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. He has under $16,000 on hand going into the primary and has not received any public matching funds. 

The New York City DSA endorsed union organizer Claire Valdez to replace Ardila. At the start of June, she had over $130,000 in her war chest to spend and has nearly maxed out in public dollars. She touts support from powerful allies including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and state Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris. Johanna Carmona, who previously ran for the seat in 2022, is running in what has become a very competitive primary as well and has picked up some notable endorsements from the likes of Rep. Greg Meeks and the Stonewall Democrats. She has over $89,000 to spend heading into the June election and has received about $88,000 in matching funds. Carmona’s campaign has also gotten a boost from a super PAC tied to Mets owner Steve Cohen, who’s trying to build a casino in Queens.

District 40

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. He also only squeaked to victory in his primary that year. Kim faces a strong Democratic primary challenge from Yi Andy Chen, who previously ran for City Council in 2021. He has recorded some impressive fundraising numbers and has maxed out on matching funds. Perennial candidate Dao Yin has also announced a campaign against Kim, raising some fundraising questions along the way. And Republican chiropractor Philip Wang will take on the Democratic primary winner. Kim has picked up some solid endorsements from New York State United Teachers and DC 37, the state’s largest teachers union and the city’s largest union of public employees respectively. Kim is heading into Election Day with over $105,000 in the bank and has received nearly $155,000 in public matching funds. Chen reported over $217,000 on hand at the start of June, while Yin has about $93,000 with nearly $163,000 in public dollars – although a New York Times investigation has raised questions about many matched donations.

District 50

Brooklyn, including Greenpoint and part of Williamsburg

Incumbent: Emily Gallagher

A fight over a contentious street safety redesign is at the heart of the primary fight that Assembly Member Emily Gallagher faces in June. Gallagher has been a strong proponent of redesigning McGuinness Boulevard in her district, supporting a Department of Transportation plan that would remove a lane of traffic to add in a bike lane. But the polarizing plan has staunch opponents, and  they’re backing Anathea Simpkins, who has said she opposes the redesign plan. What initially looked like a longshot challenge has Gallagher spooked and Simpkins supporters feeling emboldened. Gallagher had about $105,000 in the bank at the start of June and she has gotten almost $149,000 so far from the matching funds program. Simpkins last reported about $24,000 in the bank ahead of the primary and has received about $115,000 from the state.

District 56

Brooklyn, including Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights

Incumbent: Stefani Zinerman

The DSA-endorsed candidate Eon Huntley is attempting to unseat Assembly Member Stefani Zinerman in the Democratic primary. 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. But mainstream Democrats have every intention of fighting back via outside spending, and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has a vested interest in what happens in his own backyard. Huntley recorded just under $105,000 in his last filing before Election Day, and he has gotten nearly $139,000 in public dollars. Zinerman had about $174,000 in the bank at the start of June and has received over $90,000 in matching funds. 

District 68

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. The race is something of a proxy war between two Manhattan power-players and longtime rivals: Manhattan Democratic boss Keith Wright, an ally of Gibbs, and Rep. Adriano Espaillat, who has endorsed Santiago. Gibbs had a little under $49,000 in his campaign chest at the start of June and has received about $105,000 from the state’s public campaign finance program. Santiago has just under $56,000 heading into Election Day and he has gotten

District 69

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 quickly emerged 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. 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, was the last to announce a bid for the Assembly seat. As of early June, Northrup reported having about $104,000 cash on hand and has received just under $158,000 in matching funds. Lasher reported $224,000 cash on hand and has maxed out the public dollars.  Rosenberg reported having about $22,000 cash on hand, having gotten $60,000 from the state, and Quinones had about $4,400 on hand. She has not gotten any matching funds.

District 70

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 Keith Wright, the powerful Manhattan Democratic Party leader. Other candidates include Maria Ordoñez, a former City Council candidate who is a member of DSA but has not been endorsed by the organization; Shana Harmongoff, a former staffer for then-state Sen. Brian Benjamin; and Craig Schley, a Justice Department staff attorney. Wright was heading into Election Day with about $123,000 in the bank and has received just under $117,000 in matching funds. Ordoñez had over $58,000 in the bank at the start of June and got around $113,000 in public dollars. Schley is $1,500 in debt as of his last filing and has received no matching funds. Harmongoff had close to $30,000 going into the election and has gotten about $62,000 from the public campaign finance program. Joshua Clennon, the former political director and vice president of the Manhattan Young Democrats, ultimately did not make the ballot.

District 77Bronx, including HighbridgeIncumbent: Landon DaisJust a few days into the beginning of session, Assembly Member Latoya Joyner announced that she was leaving the state Legislature for what we have since learned is a position at Montefiore. Landon Dais won a Feb. 13 special election and until recently, was expected to coast to the general election unchallenged. Enter New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ Bronx Borough Director Leonardo Coello. Coello is a fixture at Bronx community meetings and likes his odds in a less truncated campaign than Dais’ low turnout win, although Dais has nearly a full session under his belt to use as an example of what he’ll do in office. Dais’ most recent filings had him with $23,000 heading into the June primary and he has not received any matching funds. Coello had $16,000 and has similarly not used the matching funds program.

District 82

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. Meanwhile, Benedetto has been the beneficiary of a wave of spending against progressive or DSA-backed candidates in New York state races. Benedetto has especially gotten a bump from Israeli solidarity political action committees with links to charter schools. Heading into Election Day, Benedetto reported $99,000 on hand and has gotten the same amount from the state. Soto had $55,000 in his war chest and has received $59,000 in public dollars.

District 92

Parts of Westchester County, including Dobbs Ferry and Pleasantville

Incumbent: MaryJane Shimsky 

Assembly Member MaryJane Shimsky is facing a rematch. She was victorious in 2022 against former Assembly Member Tom Abinanti in the Democratic primary, and Abinanti is back to recapture his old seat. Neither a stranger to local politics, the driving force behind Abinanti’s electoral challenge is the incorporation of the wealthy village of Edgemont, carving it out from the Town of Greenburgh. The Legislature approved a bill to make village incorporation harder, but it had a significant exception for two decades for Edgemont. The incorporation would be a financial calamity for Greenburgh. Abinanti is trying to spin the exception as Shimsky’s doing, though she voted against the measure that caught local officials off guard. He has put the issue front and center as he hopes to restart a 12-year career in state government cut short by Shimsky. Abinanti reported over $88,000 at the start of June and has gotten nearly $84,000 in public money.

District 103

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 and counter progressive fundraisers, but Shrestha won in 2022 on the back of progressive grassroots campaign and has the support of the Democratic Committees in the district.

District 106

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. Barrett is also facing opposition from some environmentalists who are upset that she has not supported the NY HEAT Act, and they plan to spend against her in the race.

District 109

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 crowded competitive primary emerged in the safe blue district. Albany Common Council members Owusu Anane, Ginnie Farrell, Gabriella Romero and Jack Flynn, have launched campaigns, as well as Albany County Legislators Andrew Joyce and Dustin Reidy. Romero and Reidy have emerged as frontrunners in the primary, while Farrell has the backing of Fahy to replace her. Republican Alicia Purdy also announced she will campaign for the seat. 

District 137

Western New York, including the area west of Rochester

Incumbent: Demond Meeks

Democratic Assembly Member Demond Meeks is facing a primary challenge from Rochester City Council Member Willie Lightfoot Jr. Although Meeks has the support of his fellow Assembly members and Rochester Mayor Malik Evans, as well as commanding lead in fundraising, the Monroe County Democratic Committee endorsed Lightfoot rather than him, the two-term incumbent. Should Meeks or Lightfoot win, they will likely face a perfunctory challenge from Monroe County Legislator Marcus Williams.

General election races

Senate District 38

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.

Senate District 39

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.

Senate District 46

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 in January, 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. A GOP challenger later emerged in Ted Danz, a local HVAC business operator. The state Senate hopeful has run against Fahy before and has received support from state Senate Republican leadership in the early days of his campaign. 

District 63

Western New York, including most of Buffalo

Incumbent: Tim Kennedy, who is now in Congress

State Sen. Tim Kennedy announced in November that he will run to replace Rep. Brian Higgins, who retired 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. Erie County Democrats chose Erie County Legislature Chair April Baskin to be their nominee after a party convention in February, with Buffalo Common Council Member Mitch Nowakowski subsequently withdrawing his bid. Republicans are putting forward Jack Moretti, a retired state trooper, in an attempt to flip Kennedy’s old seat. Doing so will be an uphill battle as Democrats hold a steep enrollment advantage in the district. 

Assembly District 23

Queens, including Ozone Park, Lindenwood and the parts of the Rockaways

Incumbent: Stacey Pheffer Amato

Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato is one of the more moderate Democrats of the state Legislature and nearly lost her seat to a Republican in 2022. Financial adviser and combat veteran Tom Sullivan, a Republican, lost to Amato by 15 votes in 2022 after a protracted series of recounts and legal rulings. Vowing to return after such a close margin, Sullivan is challenging Amato in a district that President Joe Biden narrowly won in 2020.

Assembly District 46Brooklyn, 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.

Assembly District 96

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.

Assembly District 133

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. Democrat Colleen Walsh-Williams, who has also gotten the support of the Working Families Party, will take on Republican Andrea Bailey, the Livingston County clerk.