By Jim Ellis
June 25, 2020 — With the Kentucky and New York primary totals still days away from becoming final, there are ways of looking to project an outcome of the close races.
KENTUCKYThere was some news in Kentucky yesterday as Fayette County, the state’s second-largest local entity, reported its first numbers in the Senate Democratic primary. While only showing about 2,000 total votes counted, 72 percent of the early tallies went state Rep. Charles Booker’s (D-Louisville) way, a rather astonishing occurrence in opponent Amy McGrath’s home county.
You will remember that McGrath ran for the US House in the Fayette County-anchored 6th District in 2018. Therefore, it was expected that the Fayette Senate primary totals would heavily favor her, thus suggesting her 5,104 early statewide vote lead might be sustained. Though just a sliver of the actual votes to come from Fayette are now reported, the fact that Booker would receive such a large share indicates the supposition that McGrath would sweep the county is incorrect.
Even with a low total being reported from Fayette — and that appears to be the only county with newly reported data — the Secretary of State is telling county election administration personnel not to release numbers until June 30. Booker’s statewide deficit is now just 4,066 votes with well over 600,000 votes expected to be added to the various totals.
The vote overlay also boosts Booker’s potential chance of slipping past McGrath when understanding that his home area alone, Jefferson County, could easily wipe out such a small statewide deficit. Jefferson County, which houses Louisville and is Kentucky’s largest local entity, has a population that exceeds 760,000 individuals. Therefore, the expected vote total coming from the locality will be large in proportion to the outstanding number of uncounted ballots. Thus, the race may well be too close to call.
In any event, the big winner of the Democratic primary appears to be incumbent Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell. He is now assured of facing a Democratic general election opponent who will come out of their own party primary with a split base, not the way one would want to start a general election campaign against a powerful Senate majority Leader who tends to dominate his state’s politics.
In New York, we can begin to put some projected primary outcomes into perspective based upon past primary voting. While the reported congressional district vote totals are low from Tuesday’s election, New York political history yields low primary turnouts. Therefore, the early leaders of the various races may be in a more definitive position than one might guess at first glance of the reported totals.
In Long Island’s 1st District, the Democratic primary is clearly too close to call with three candidates all within 1,000 votes. The leader is 2018 nominee Perry Gershon, but he only tops college professor Nancy Goroff and Suffolk County legislator Bridget Fleming by 164 and 1,104 votes, respectively, from a reported aggregate total of 14,804 votes. Though a low total, there may not be that many outstanding ballots. In 2018, only 22,240 people voted in the Democratic primary. The eventual winner faces Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) in November.
In the open 2nd District that retiring Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) represents, state Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport), who has the support of the local Republican political machine, has a 61-38 percent lead over state Assemblyman Mike LiPetri (R-Massapequa Park) with 15,759 votes counted. It is unlikely that LiPetri could overcome this deficit within the remaining vote count, meaning that Garbarino will almost certainly become the GOP nominee.
As expected, Babylon town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon has a large 70-26 percent lead in the Democratic primary with 12,489 votes counted. Considering that NY-2 produced only 12,771 voters in the 2018 Democratic primary here, Gordon can be projected as the winner and will face Garbarino in November.
In Long Island’s 3rd District, incumbent Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) doesn’t appear to be in danger of losing re-nomination, but his early 56.5 percent vote total is low for an incumbent.
The same low incumbent vote total is also true for Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) in the 6th District as she is recording 57 percent of the vote with 26,510 total votes counted. No question she wins re-nomination, but her percentage is also an under-performance, at least in the early going.
Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn) looks to be improving upon her close call in the 2018 Democratic primary. In that year, she took only 53 percent of the vote against challenger Adem Bunkeddeko, who is back for a re-match this year. Her preliminary total is 62 percent of 58,598 votes this time around, thus making her a clear winner.
Veteran Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) also had a significant challenge from one of two opponents. Lindsey Boylan is a former member of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, but she has clearly fallen short of her quest to deny Rep. Nadler re-nomination. The Congressman is touching 60 percent with 32,281 votes recorded.
In the 11th District Republican primary, state assemblywoman and former New York City mayoral nominee Nicole Malliotakis is clinching her party’s nomination to oppose freshman Rep. Max Rose (D-Staten Island). She is clearing 69 percent of the vote with 18,619 total votes counted. While difficult to know just how many votes remain to be counted, in 2018 the total Republican congressional turnout only reached 21,472, so it is safe to say that Malliotakis will advance into the general election campaign.
The 12th District looks too close to call with Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) only 648 votes ahead of hotel executive Suraj Patel, but yesterday the congresswoman virtually declared victory. She said that approximately 109,000 ballots remain to be counted in her district and that she will receive a strong majority within that total. Still looks too close to call, however.
In the Harlem-anchored 13th District, freshman Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D), who replaced veteran Rep. Charlie Rangel, is another of the Democratic members with a low percentage but with strong enough numbers to win re-nomination. He has 54 percent of the vote against five opponents with 52,194 votes counted.
In the Bronx open 15th District, the seat from which Rep. Jose Serrano (D) is retiring, it appears that New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres will win the Democratic nomination and the seat in November. Among 12 opponents, Torres has 29 percent of the vote with 42,193 ballots reported as counted. His next closest opponent, state Assemblyman Michael Blake, has a 19 percent total percentage. It is difficult to project just how many votes remain to be counted, but Torres appears to be a lock to win the primary.
In District 16, challenger Jamaal Bowman has declared victory over veteran Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx), but the congressman refuses to concede. Bowman has a 61-34 percent lead after 44,727 votes have been counted, and he leads big in both the Bronx and Westchester County. Bowman’s victory declaration is reasonable since only 30,078 votes were cast in the 2018 Democratic primary and Rep. Engel would have to obtain well over 56 percent of the remaining ballots to flip the outcome. This race is over.
In retiring Rep. Nita Lowey’s (D-Harrison) 17th District, it is also a virtual certainty that attorney Mondaire Jones, who has Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Justice Democrats organization support, will win the Democratic primary. He sits with 43 percent of 31,935 votes counted and his next closest opponent has only 20 percent. A total of eight Democratic candidates are running. Since Rep. Lowey never had a primary challenge in her district once she was originally nominated and elected back in 1988, no congressional turnout data exists to judge just how many votes might remain.
The 19th District Republican primary remains truly uncalled. With only 11,079 votes recorded, fashion company owner Ola Hawatmeh has a 475-vote lead over attorney Kyle Van De Water in a race that the outstanding votes will decide. The winner tackles freshman incumbent Antonio Delgado (D-Rhinebeck) in a potentially competitive general election.
In the 22nd District, the second-most Republican district that a Democrat holds in the country, former Rep. Claudia Tenney easily scored re-nomination and has forced a re-match campaign with freshman Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica). This district again promises to yield a highly competitive general election.
In the Syracuse anchored 24th District, we will see a re-match between Rep. John Katko (R) and college professor Dana Balter. In 2018, Rep. Katko was re-elected with a 52-46 percent victory margin.
Finally, in the 27th District, as was reported Tuesday night, Republican state Sen. Chris Jacobs scored an easier than expected special election victory over Democrat Nate McMurry and was projected the winner with 69 percent of the 80,229 votes recorded. He also won big in the concurrent Republican primary for the regular term, and he now looks to be a safe bet to win again in November.