Voices in Focus: Primary’s Winners and Losers

As we headed into the Sept. 13 primaries, headlines included those incumbents embroiled in corruption investigations, as well as Republicans testing the effects of their support for gay marriage. But overall, few surprises surfaced from the results of yesterday’s voting, notes Gotham Gazette.

Two out of three incumbents facing corruption charges — State Senator Shirley Huntley of Queens and Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera of the Bronx — lost their seats in Thursday’s Primaries but Brooklyn Assemblyman William F. Boyland held on, winning 37 percent of the vote against a crowded field of six candidates, according to the Gotham Gazette, which reported unofficial results for major races in New York City

Below are highlights of Thursday’s primaries, with results from closely-followed races, as well as candidates profiled by the community and ethnic press and featured on Voices of NY. Note that the results are not the final tally.

* According to Queens Courier, Huntley, a Democrat, was charged with “tampering, falsifying business records and conspiracy” a few weeks ago. Last night, she lost to Councilmember James Sanders, with 39.9 percent to his 57 percent.

* A month ago, El Diario La Prensa (English translation) profiled Albanian-American candidate Mark Gjonaj, who set out to challenge Rivera in the Democratic primaries. The newcomer dethroned the Puerto Rican Assemblywoman last night by 52 percent to 41 percent thanks to aggressive outreach, a ubiquitous campaign presence, and an investigation by the New York Post into questionable dealings on the part of Rivera. According to the Norwood News:

In this heavily Democratic district, which includes parts of Norwood, Allerton, Morris Park and Pelham Gardens, Gjonaj will almost certainly be elected to office when voting for the general election happens on Nov. 6.

Mark Gjonaj beat incumbent Naomi Rivera, who was the subject of corruption investigations. (Photo via El Diario/La Prensa)

While putting together a relentless, almost omnipresent campaign — his army of yellow-clad Gjonaj CARES workers were a fixture in the district — Gjonaj became the beneficiary of a series of articles in the New York Post detailing allegations that Rivera used her position and taxpayer money to enrich two recent boyfriends. Several authorities have launched investigations into Rivera’s hiring of a Brooklyn gym teacher as an expensive part-time community liaison and her allegedly inappropriate dealings with a nonprofit that she funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to over the past several years.

The same race also included challenger and underdog Adam Bermudez, a former Bronx Times reporter, who performed a parody of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” to garner votes. Out of the four candidates in the race, he took third place with 5 percent of the vote.

Adriano Espaillat defeated Guillermo Linares after a close loss to Charles Rangel over the summer. (Photo from El Diario la Prensa)

* In another closely-watched Democratic primary race, the Riverdale Press notes that Adriano Espaillat defeated Guillermo Linares 64 to 36 percent for the senate district that includes Marble Hill, Inwood and Washington Heights in Northern Manhattan. Both are of Dominican descent. Espaillat was also involved in a hotly-contested race back in the summer against longtime incumbent Rep. Charles Rangel, whom he lost to by just over 1,000 votes after heated challenges.

* The Riverdale Press also added that Linares’ daughter, Mayra Linares, lost to Gabriela Rosa 34 to 44 percent, in a race for Linares’ former Assembly seat in Northern Manhattan. Espaillat supported Rosa.

* The Norwood News article linked above also mentioned other races in the northwest Bronx, including Democratic State Senator Gustavo Rivera who “soundly defeated” challenger Manny Tavárez, 70 to 30 percent. El Diario La Prensa (English translation) profiled the Dominican-American newcomer a few weeks ago, noting his background as a semi-professional baseball pitcher.

* Though not a story out of New York City, Gay City News kept a close watch on the primary results of Republican state senators in upstate New York who supported marriage equality and whose votes lead to the passage of the bill to legalize gay marriage in the State of New York last summer. Despite an abundance in campaign fundraising, two of the three facing reelection bids had a tough primary:

  • Freshman legislator Mark Grisanti of Buffalo, easily defeated opponent Kevin Stocker by 20 percent, with the help of about $193,000 in funding versus Stocker’s $17,000.
  • It was not so easy for Stephen Saland whose district included the Hudson Valley’s Columbia, Dutchess and Putnam Counties. As the key figure in the passage of gay marriage, Saland was ahead of Neil Di Carlo by a mere 42 votes out of 9,896 votes cast and the race is too close to call. Saland had $600,000 in funds right before the primary while Di Carlo raised  $30,000.
  • Further north in Rensselaer and Saratoga Counties, incumbent Roy McDonald had 136 votes less than his opponent, Saratoga County Clerk Kathleen Marchione. McDonald had a total of $900,000 in funding while Marchione raised $175,000. That race is also too close to call.

Incumbent Martin Malavé Dilan easily defeated lawyer Jason Otaño. (Photos from El Diario La Prensa)

* El Diario La Prensa (English translation) also published separate profiles recently on two challengers, both of Puerto Rican descent, facing off in Northern Brooklyn, incumbent Martin Malavé Dilan and lawyer Jason Otaño. Democratic State Senator Dilan will keep his seat as he easily won with 67 percent over Otaño, who received 33 percent of the vote.

* In the week before the primaries, the Haitian Times published a profile on Democratic State Assembly candidate Rodneyse Bichotte whose humble roots in East Flatbush built her up to work as an electrical engineer, math teacher and investment banker. But in the end, the Haitian-American did not prevail, losing to longtime incumbent Rhoda Jacobs, 68 to 32 percent.

Other races mentioned in the community and ethnic press:

* Gay City News reports that Brad Hoylman, a gay attorney, easily won the Democratic seat held by veteran legislator Tom Duane who did not seek reelection. The chair of West Village Community Board 2 beat out Tom Greco, the straight owner of a gay bar, and educator Tanika Inlaw, winning 68 percent of the vote. Interestingly, Hoylman’s name will appear twice on the ballot as he also represents the Working Families Party. No other candidate will appear. The district goes from the Lower East Side to the West Village and the Upper West Side. With unanimous support from elected officials, Hoylman took in $200,000 in campaign funds, a sum far greater than his opponents.

* Newcomer Nily Rozic beat longtime Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece by 56 percent to 44 percent in Queens’ 25th District in the Democratic primary. From Queens Courier: “This campaign reveals the true believers, the true Democrats, the true feminists, the true progressives, the true reformers and really the true believers in the American dream,” Rozic said. “We really did big things tonight.”

The Epoch Times also noted voter confusion while attempting to vote yesterday as poll workers had to often redirect voters to their appropriate polling stations.

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  1. Pingback: Highlights from the 2012 NY State Primaries | The Haitian Times

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