Everything You Need to Know About
New York’s Democratic Primary Election on Thursday
Fun fact: New York State votes in its primary election this week, on Thursday, September 13. Are you ready? If you’ve had other things on your mind lately, that’s fine—but now is the time to brush up on the facts at hand and prepare to make some choices. Below, a general rundown to help guide you, from where to vote and when to who’s running and how to find out what they stand for. Whatever you do? Don’t stay home—voting is a privilege. Use it or lose it.
When to vote
This year’s primary election will take place on Thursday, September 13, rather than the usual Tuesday, so as not to conflict with the end of Rosh Hashanah or the 17th anniversary of 9/11. Polling spots will open at 12 noon and close at 9 p.m.
Where to vote
The New York State Board of Elections website has a handy guide to polling sites.
Who’s Running For What?
Gubernatorial: On the Democratic ticket, Cynthia Nixon is challenging incumbent Andrew Cuomo in the race to be New York’s next governor. Cuomo has been endorsed by Joe Biden, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Hillary Clinton; Nixon has been backed by Bernie Sanders’s Our Revolution organization and the Working Families Party. Nixon has identified herself as a democratic socialist and called for single-payer health care, universal rent control, ending cash bail, legalizing marijuana, abolishing ICE, and battling economic inequality. She has also staked a claim to a cause close to many New Yorkers’ hearts: saving the subway. She would be New York State’s first female or openly gay governor.
On the Republican ticket, Marc Molinaro, who currently serves as the Dutchess County executive, is running unopposed.
Lieutenant governor: Incumbent Kathy Hochul, a lawyer and former county clerk and House member from Buffalo, New York, is facing off against challenger Jumaane Williams, who currently represents the 45th district in New York City Council. Williams has campaigned with Nixon on issues like reforming the criminal justice system and universal rent control, and has been endorsed by The New York Times, who wrote that “time and time again over his near-decade in public service, Mr. Williams has brought issues to the fore that affected millions of New Yorkers but had gone unaddressed by the city’s leaders.”
A note: Unlike the presidential election, in the New York primary, you vote separately for governor and lieutenant governor, meaning that you can vote for Cuomo and Williams, say, or Nixon and Hochul, even though they campaigned in different pairings.
Attorney general: There are four democratic contenders: Leecia Eve, a lawyer who currently sits on the Port Authority Board of Commissioners and who served as counsel to Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton when they were in the Senate and as deputy secretary for economic development for Cuomo; New York City public advocate Letitia James; Sean Patrick Maloney, the representative for New York’s 18th Congressional District who is also fighting to hold on to his seat in the 18th Congressional District; and Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham University law professor who ran against Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial primary.
Recent polling had Maloney ahead. If elected, he would be the first openly gay statewide official. James, also an early frontrunner, made history by becoming the first woman of color to hold citywide office in New York City. She has been both boosted and hindered by her connection to Cuomo, who has endorsed and fundraised with her. Teachout, who is pregnant and is due in October, has received endorsements from The New York Times (“an independent-minded lawyer unusually well prepared to curb abuses of power and restore integrity and pride to this office”) and First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray, in her first solo endorsement, independent of Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Democratic Primary, September 13, District 107: Democrat: Donald Boyajian or Tistrya Houghtling
All 150 Assembly seats are up for election in 2018. New York state assembly members serve two-year terms, with all seats up for election every two years. For a full list of candidates, click here.
The primaries for these seats have already taken place.
All 63 Senate seats are up for election in 2018. New York state senators serve two-year terms, with all seats up for election every two years.
But Wait, Who Are the “Independent Democrats”?
While Democrats held a numerical advantage in the state Senate after the 2012 elections, a renegade group of Senate Democrats who called themselves the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) broke away and formed a legislative coalition with Senate Republicans, thereby effectively putting Republicans in control from 2012–2018. Democrats attempted to flip control of the chamber this year by bringing the eight-member IDC back into the mainline Democratic caucus, winning two special elections to gain a 32-31 numerical majority, and convincing state Sen. Simcha Felder to end his separate alliance with Republicans, but in April 2018, Felder announced he would rather keep his caucus with Republicans.
Despite their return to the fold, several of the Independent Democrat incumbents are being challenged by newcomers: Zellnor Myrie, a Working Families Party candidate, is running against former IDC member Jesse Hamilton for the 20th District seat (parts of Brooklyn, including Crown Heights and Sunset Park); John Liu, a former city comptroller, is running for Tony Avella’s seat in the 11th District (parts of Queens, including Whitestone and College Point); and Alessandra Biaggi, who’s running as the Working Families Party candidate against Jeffrey D. Klein for the 34th District seat (parts of the Bronx and Westchester, including Morris Park and Riverdale).
Simcha Felder (the aforementioned Democrat who caucuses with Republicans) is facing his own challenger: Blake Morris, a Brooklyn attorney, who is also running to represent District 17, which covers parts of Brooklyn like Borough Park.
For the full list of candidates running for state Senate, click here.