Primary Results: Many Undecided

By Jim Ellis

June 24, 2020 — Partial returns were reported last night in Kentucky and New York, but it likely will be June 30 before we see even unofficial final totals as both states wait for returning absentee ballots.

In Kentucky, an estimated 625,000 ballots are in the postal system and can take until June 27 to arrive in their respective county counting centers. The secretary of state is allowing the Kentucky counties to not report until June 30 and will not release statewide totals until then. News services, however, were reporting counted numbers.

Trends appear better established in New York, where a greater percentage of the overall vote is most likely counted. New York generally records low primary participation numbers. Most of the races have clear winners, however. Completed totals are reported in North Carolina and Virginia.

The Kentucky Senate Democratic primary, as closing polling predicted, is tight in early counting. Retired Marine Corps pilot Amy McGrath leads state Rep. Charles Booker (D-Louisville), but with only a 5,104-vote margin (45-37 percent) among the just under 62,000 votes tabulated. No numbers are reported from the state’s two largest counties, Jefferson and Fayette, the homes of Booker and McGrath, respectively.

At this point, McGrath appears headed toward a close victory but, with so many votes outstanding, it will likely be a full week before we see an official winner declared. On the Republican side, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s 87 percent total assures him of re-nomination.

All five of Kentucky congressional Republican incumbents have been re-nominated, as each total between 88-94 percent of the yesterday’s in-person vote. Kentucky is one of 12 states that does not allow early voting. In Rep. John Yarmuth’s (D-Louisville) 3rd District, no numbers have been reported in the Republican primary, but the congressman has been re-nominated because he was unopposed on the Democratic side.

In New York, state Sen. Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo) has been projected as the special election winner in the vacant 27th District. Of the totals counted, he topped former Grand Island town supervisor Nate McMurray (D), 69-29 percent. In the concurrent Republican primary for the regular term, Jacobs is capturing 71 percent of the vote to easily win the party nomination for the full term.

The bigger news comes from the Bronx, where it appears that 16-term Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx) has gone down to defeat. He trails former middle school principal Jamaal Bowman, 61-34 percent district-wide, and even lags far behind in Westchester County (58-35 percent), the area of the district that was supposed to be Engel’s stronghold. If the absentee ballots don’t change this outcome, Engel will be the fourth House incumbent to be denied re-nomination. He will join Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Steve King (R-IA), and Denver Riggleman (D-VA) in the defeated category.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) is not out of the woods, and absentee ballots could decide this race. She leads her principle challenger, hotel executive Suraj Patel, by just 648 votes, a 40-39 percentage split with just over 40,000 votes reported.

In the other Bronx competitive districts, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez easily won her Democratic primary with 70 percent of the counted vote. In the two area open seats, New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres has a large lead in the crowded Democratic primary to replace retiring Rep. Jose Serrano (D-Bronx), while attorney Mondaire Jones is well ahead, better than 2:1 over his closest opponent, in the eight-person Democratic primary to replace retiring Rep. Nita Lowey (D-Harrison).

In other races of note, Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn), who had a close call in the 2018 primary, looks to be topping 60 percent of the vote in last night’s reported returns. A very tight three-way Democratic primary in the 1st District means that absentee ballots will decide the winner. Perry Gershon, the 2018 Democratic nominee, has only a 164-vote lead toward earning a re-match with Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley).

On the Republican side, state Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport) is an easy winner in the race to replace retiring Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) in the state’s 2nd District. He will face local town official Jackie Gordon who was a landslide winner in the Democratic primary.

Elsewhere, state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, in the Staten Island-Brooklyn seat, will officially challenge freshman Rep. Max Rose (D-Staten Island). Rematches will occur in the Upstate 22nd District where former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) will return to challenge freshman Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica), while college professor Dana Balter (D) easily earned another shot at attempting to unseat Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse).

Another race clearly undecided is in the Upstate 19th District where fashion company owner Ola Hawatmeh has a 475-vote lead over attorney Kyle Van de Water in the GOP primary with the bulk of ballots still to count. The winner will challenge freshman Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-Rhinebeck).

Turning to North Carolina, a clear win was recorded in the 11th District Republican runoff to replace former representative and current White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Despite Meadows’ and President Trump’s endorsement of former Haywood County Republican Party chair Lynda Bennett, real estate investment company owner Madison Cawthorn, just over the minimum 25 year age requirement and who is confined to a wheelchair because of a near fatal car crash eight years ago, scored a landslide 66-34 percent victory to win the party nomination. He becomes a big favorite to defeat Democratic nominee Moe Davis, a retired US Air Force colonel, in the general election.

In Virginia, the 5th District Democratic voters easily nominated local physician Cameron Webb to compete in what is now an open seat. Assuming the Virginia Board of Elections grants Republican Bob Good is a waiver after missing the candidate filing deadline despite winning the Republican district convention, the two will square off in what could now become a competitive general election campaign.

In the Virginia Beach-anchored 2nd District, former representative Scott Taylor (R) won the Republican primary but in unimpressive form with only 48 percent of the vote against two opponents. He will now earn a re-match with freshman Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Norfolk).

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