By Jim Ellis
July 20, 2018 — Though New Yorkers have already gone to the polls to choose their federal nominees, they must return on Sept. 13 to vote for their final state candidates. The Empire State is the only domain in the country that conducts separate primaries for federal and then state and local offices.
In a statewide race that might affect a congressional campaign, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring/West Point), after winning the Democratic nomination for re-election on June 26, announced that he would enter the open Sept. 13 primary for state attorney general. If he is successful in winning the party nomination, Maloney says he will end his congressional campaign. This will force the local Democratic leadership from the four counties that combine to form the 18th Congressional District to convene and choose a new nominee with barely a month remaining in the general election cycle.
With this background, Quinnipiac University comes forth with their latest New York survey (July 12-16; 934 registered New York voters, 415 likely New York Democratic primary voters). The pollsters see Gov. Cuomo expanding his Democratic primary advantage over Nixon. According to the May Q-Poll, Cuomo led Nixon 50-28 percent. In their new July study, the governor posts a stronger 59-23 percent margin, meaning a net gain of 14 percentage points. Because Nixon controls the Working Families Party ballot line, however, she will advance to the general election no matter what happens in the September state Democratic primary.
In a general election test, Gov. Cuomo holds a 43-23-13-3-2-1 percent lead over Duchess County Executive Marc Molinaro (Republican/Conservative/Reform), Nixon (Working Families), Larry Sharpe (Libertarian), Howie Hawkins (Green), and Stephanie Miner (Serve America Movement), respectively. Miner, is the former mayor of Syracuse who the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee leadership wanted to challenge Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse). Instead, she decided to form her own party and run for governor. At least according to this Q-Poll, her statewide move appears to be paying few political dividends.
Quinnipiac also released numbers for the open attorney general’s race. According to the data, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James has a 26-15-12-3 percent lead over Rep. Maloney, former gubernatorial and congressional candidate Zephyr Teachout, and ex-gubernatorial aide Leecia Eve, respectively.
This tells us that Maloney, if he is to be successful in the statewide race, has major ground to make up in a short time frame. Since James is from New York City and has been elected to local office there, it is probable that her name identification and familiarity within the City voting base is carrying her to an early statewide lead. If Maloney can coalesce the Upstate vote around his candidacy and make inroads on Long Island, he may have a chance at overtaking James assuming that the City precincts turnout in a lesser percentage than the Island and the Upstate.
If he wins the AG nomination, an open 18th District (Trump ’16: 49-47 percent), particularly with a newly selected Democratic candidate having to start from scratch with just over a month remaining until Election Day, would certainly be in play for Republican-Conservative-Reform candidate James O’Donnell, an Orange County Legislator.