By Louis Jacobson
After its congressional primaries were delayed due to a late-breaking – and highly disruptive – round of redistricting this year, New York voters are finally poised to choose their nominees for U.S. House seats on Aug. 23. (Statewide offices in New York had their primaries on June 28.)
New York will have 26 House seats in the next Congress, which is down one from the current 27, due to population loss.
Of those 26 seats, at least 10 will have noteworthy primaries on Aug. 23, some of them on the Democratic side and some on the Republican side. Geographically, they cover a wide range of places in the Empire State, from Long Island and New York City to upstate and western New York.
Here’s a rundown of the key races to watch on New York’s second primary night.
Congressional District 1
This is one of three hotly contested seats on Long Island this year. The 1st District stretches all the way out to the eastern tip of the island east New York City. It’s coming open this year because GOP incumbent Lee Zeldin gave up the seat to run for governor against incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul.
The GOP primary field includes Michelle Bond, CEO of the Association for Digital Asset Markets, a cryptocurrency group; Nick LaLota, a former trustee in the village of Amityville, as well as a Navy veteran and current chief of staff to the Suffolk County Legislature; and Anthony Figliola, a former deputy town supervisor in Brookhaven. Bond has the most money in the bank, with more than $500,000; she’s followed by LaLota, who has $326,000.
The Democratic nomination is already settled; it will be Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming. Earlier in her career, Fleming worked as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan, specializing in sex crimes. Fleming has $516,000 in the bank.
Joe Biden carried the district by a whisker in 2020; it’s considered to have a slight GOP lean in November, but it should be competitive.
Congressional District 3
This district, which combines portions of Long Island’s Nassau County and the New York City borough of Queens, is coming open after Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi made an unsuccessful bid for his party’s nomination for governor.
The Democrats have a large field that includes Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan; former North Hempstead town supervisor and former judge Jon Kaiman; public relations executive Rob Zimmerman; marketing consultant Reema Rasool; and community organizer Melanie D’Arrigo. Lafazan has the most in the bank with more than $887,000; Zimmeman is a close second, while Kaiman is the only other Democrat with at least a six-figure amount in the bank.
The GOP nomination is settled: The nominee will be business executive George Santos, who has more than $917,000 in the bank.
The district backed Biden by seven points in 2020; it should be competitive in November.
Congressional District 4
This district, located entirely in Long Island’s Nassau County, is coming open due to the retirement of Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice. As with the 3rd District, the Democrats have a contested primary while the GOP has already settled on its nominee.
The Democratic field includes Laura Gillen, a former Hempstead town supervisor; Keith Corbett the mayor of Malverne Village and an official with the Nassau County Democratic Committee; Nassau County legislator and former Bronx prosecutor Carrié Solages; and physician and Bangladeshi immigrant Muzibul Huq.
Gillen and Corbett have the biggest war chests, each exceeding $300,000. Gillen has also received the endorsement of Rice, as well as Rice’s predecessor in the seat, Democrat Carolyn McCarthy.
The GOP nominee will be Anthony D’Esposito, a Hempstead town council member who has been both a police officer and a fire chief. He has more than $549,000 in the bank, which is more than any of the Democrats.
Biden won the district by 15 points in 2020, so Democrats are favored here in November.
Congressional District 10
The new congressional map heavily redrew the districts in Manhattan. The 10th District, covering lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, used to be represented by Democrat Jerrold Nadler, but he decided to run in the 12th District instead.
The open seat Nadler left behind gave 85% of its vote to Biden in 2020, so the seat will effectively be filled in the Democratic primary. That has attracted a massive number of candidates.
The best known are Rep. Mondaire Jones, who switched from a Rockland County-Westchester County district to run in the 10th instead; Dan Goldman, a former counsel to House Democrats during the first impeachment of President Donald Trump; former Rep. Liz Holtzman, who left Congress in 1981 and later served as Kings County district attorney and New York City comptroller; and New York City Council Member Carlina Rivera.
Two other members of the state Assembly are also running: Jo Anne Simon and Yuh-Line Niou. (Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio initially ran for the seat before dropping out, though his name will still appear on the ballot.)
Jones has won the endorsement of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and he easily leads the field in terms of money in the bank, with more than $2.8 million. However, Goldman won the critical endorsement of the New York Times editorial board, and he has the second-largest war chest in the field, with a little over $1 million. Democratic Rep. Nydia Velázquez, meanwhile, has endorsed Rivera.
Congressional District 12
The state map redrawing united Manhattan’s Upper West Side and Upper East Side for the first time since World War II. This reunited district, the 12th, is where Nadler chose to run, prompting a clash of New York congressional titans – Nadler against Rep. Carolyn Maloney. Maloney chairs the House’s Oversight and Reform Committee, while Nadler chairs the Judiciary Committee. Nadler won the New York Times’ endorsement.
In addition to Nadler and Maloney, the third candidate to watch is Suraj Patel, a former aide in Barack Obama’s White House who has twice run previously against Maloney. He has more than $562,000 in the bank, which would be a lot, except in comparison to Maloney, who has more than $2 million, and Nadler, who has in excess of $1.2 million.
Like the 10th, the 12th District gave 85% of its vote to Biden in 2020, making the winner of the primary a shoo-in in November.
Congressional District 16
This district consists largely of affluent Westchester County as well as a slice of the Bronx.
The incumbent, Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman, was elected to the House in 2020 by ousting a more moderate Democratic incumbent. In office, Bowman has sought to walk a tightrope between his most liberal supporters and the rest of the Democratic caucus. Bowman is seeking reelection, but given the more suburban nature of the district under the newly redrawn lines, he’s facing a challenge from the center. Bowman, who is Black, will also be running in a district with fewer Black voters.
The three Democrats challenging Bowman in the primary are Westchester County Legislator Vedat Gashi, the child of refugees from Kosovo; Mark Jaffe, the former CEO of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce; and Westchester County Legislator Catherine Parker.
The 16th gave 71% of its vote in 2020 to Biden, so whoever wins the Democratic nomination should have smooth sailing in November.
Congressional District 17
This seat is open because, following significant map changes, Jones left the district to run in the 10th. Both parties have contested primaries.
On the Democratic side, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the incumbent from a neighboring district, is the establishment candidate; he chairs the House Democrats’ campaign arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Maloney is facing off against state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, who is running more of an insurgent-style campaign and has the backing of the leading House progressive, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Maloney is considered the favorite.
On the GOP side, the candidates include State Assemblyman Mike Lawler, Rockland County Legislator Charles Falciglia, Somers Council Member William Faulkner, sales executive Jack Schrepel, and author Shoshana David.
This district in the Hudson River Valley leans Democratic, but not dramatically so, and it should be at least somewhat competitive in the fall.
Congressional District 19
This district stretches across portions of 11 counties in upstate New York and includes both Binghamton and Ithaca. On Aug. 23, the 19th will simultaneously hold both a special election to fill a vacancy for the remaining months of the current Congress, as well as a primary for the next full term. Confusingly, the candidates in these two races will be somewhat different due to the changes in the district’s boundaries.
The special election was triggered when Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado was tapped to fill the vacant lieutenant governor slot under Hochul, leaving the seat without representation.
The special election to fill the remainder of Delgado’s term will pit Iraq War veteran and Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan for the Democrats and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro.
But while Molinaro will also be running for the full two-year term to represent the 19th District, Ryan will not. Instead, Ryan will seek to represent the nearby 18th District, which includes Dutchess, Orange and Ulster counties and is open because Sean Patrick Maloney is running instead in the 17th, which is based heavily in Rockland and Westchester counties. In the 18th, Ryan is the heavy favorite to win the Democratic nomination. (Got all that?)
Back in the 19th District, Molinaro has a clear path in the GOP primary for the full term. But the Democrats will have a face-off between Josh Riley, a onetime aide to former Democratic Rep. Maurice Hinchey, and businesswoman Jamie Cheney. Both candidates have more than half a million dollars in their war chests, while Molinaro has close to $1 million.
Biden won the district in 2020, but by only four points, suggesting a highly competitive contest in November.
Congressional District 22
This district takes in Syracuse, Utica and Rome; due to redistricting, it will have no incumbent in 2022. Both sides have contested primaries.
The GOP field pits Steve Wells, a former prosecutor, state party treasurer and official with the Onondaga County GOP, against tech executive and Navy veteran Brandon Williams. Wells has about six times the amount in the bank as Williams.
On the Democratic side, the front-runner is Iraq War veteran Francis Conole, who has just over $400,000 in the bank, more than anyone else in the Democratic field. The other Democratic candidates running are DeWitt Town board member and Air Force veteran Sarah Klee Hood; Syracuse City council member and South Sudanese refugee Chol Majok; and former state Assemblyman Sam Roberts.
The 22nd is competitive; Biden won it in 2020 by about eight points. Look for a close race in the fall.
Congressional District 23
District 23, which stretches from the Buffalo suburbs to the state’s Southern Tier, is solidly Republican; it gave Donald Trump 58% of its vote in 2020. Like the 19th, the 23rd also has both a special election on Aug. 23 as well as a regular election. The special election was triggered by the resignation of GOP Rep. Tom Reed, and the seat is coming open due to the retirement of GOP Rep. Chris Jacobs, whose district was eliminated because of population loss.
In the special election, Steuben County GOP Chair Joe Sempolinski is the favorite in this GOP-leaning district. He’ll face Max Della Pia, a Democratic Air Force veteran and former congressional aide.
Della Pia is also the Democratic nominee for the full two-year term, but Sempolinski isn’t running in that race. Instead, the GOP primary is a doozy.
State Republican Party Chair Nick Langworthy is facing off against outspokenly pro-Trump figure Carl Paladino. Paladino has called Adolf Hitler “the kind of leader we need,” said that then-First Lady Michelle Obama should “return to being a male,” was accused of sending pornographic emails, and ran a gubernatorial campaign in 2010 that was trailed by all sorts of contoversies. As the primary approached, Paladino said on a radio show that Attorney General Merrick Garland should be “executed,” before backtracking a few minutes later.
Polls suggest the contest is close, and it has sharply divided the state GOP. In a surprise endorsement, Rep. Elise Stefanik, the chair of the House Republican Conference, backed Paladino, angering Langworthy and his allies.
Ordinarily, the Democrats would not be expected to be competitive in this district in the general election, but the possibility of a primary victory by the controversial Paladino might make this a seat worth watching in November.