New York voters chose their candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives and state Senate, ending the second of two primary campaigns in the state as the focus now turns to the general elections.
The path to a majority in the House likely goes through New York, and given history and the political environment, it should still be a good night nationally for Republicans in November. But Tuesday evening’s results in parts of New York state could give Democrats reason to hope amid close races in parts of New York state.
That said, there are limits to what lessons can be drawn from a low-turnout voting night.
Here are four takeaways from the second half of Tuesday Night Primary:
1. Ryan’s win in NY-19 means a lot, or very little.
If you’re a Democrat, Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan’s 19th Congressional District victory lands like a thunderbolt. Despite the political headwinds, Ryan was able to defeat a fellow county executive and well-known Republican, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro. Democrats will argue that this bodes well for November and shows that their voters are engaged on issues like abortion rights after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v.
Republicans, however, will not be willing to read the tea leaves like that. The participation is low, and the stakes themselves are quite low. Ryan and Molinaro were not competing for a seat to win control of the House, but a district that was vacated by Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado. Ryan will fill out the remainder of that term. The district itself in the Hudson Valley has been redrawn, and Ryan and Molinaro will run for a new, separate seat this fall.
2. Reed’s seat stays red.
It’s another “yes but” result of a special election to fill the unexpired term of Republican Rep. Tom Reed.
Just over 4,000 votes separate projected winner Republican Joe Sempolinski and Democrat Max Della Pia for this southern district. Democrats were able to get their voters to the polls in an otherwise Republican-red district.
The big caveat: Many of those votes came from Tompkins County, a blue Democratic oasis in a sea of Republican red. Della Pia’s strong showing was not enough to win.
3. Langworthy defeats Paladino.
A dozen years ago, Carl Paladino ran a campaign for governor of New York that some would call a test run for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Paladino didn’t care who he offended, pushed a populist message, and lost heavily to Andrew Cuomo in 2010. But the groundwork was laid, thanks in large part to Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy.
They have subsequently found themselves on opposite sides of the primary ballot for a newly drawn, deeply Republican seat in Western New York. This was not a contest about who could be loyal enough to Trump, given that both candidates are allies and supporters of the former president.
Instead, it was something of a proxy fight between Langworthy, now the state party chairman, and Paladino, who was backed by Rep. Elise Stefanik.
Stefanik, the No. 3 ranking Republican in the U.S. House, supported Paladino from the start, and her allies pointed to the Buffalo developer’s success in the region in 2010. But Langworthy was able to do well in the Southern Tier counties of the region. district, eliminating Paladino’s wires in suburban Erie County.
4. New York City loses steam, Goldman gains.
Either way, New York City is losing some power in Congress given the battle between Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler after the dust settled from redistricting. In the end, Nadler prevailed over Maloney and Suraj Patel in a decisive early evening race in the 12th Congressional District.
In nearby District 10, Dan Goldman was able to use his own fortune to stand out from the crowded field, defeating progressive favorite Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou as well as Rep. Mondaire Jones. Goldman, like Nadler, had the all-important endorsement of The New York Times.
5. A victory for the mainstream?
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney fended off his primary challenge from state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi in the newly-elected Hudson Valley House seat. Maloney, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, called it a victory for the “mainstream” of politics. It’s a phrase that may ring in the ears of progressives, but the night was a sign that establishment Democrats have found ways to fend off challenges on their left flank.
6. Redistribution of confusion
New York had to hold two primary votes this year because of the redistricting mess and a successful court challenge that found that US House and state Senate district maps drawn by lawmakers Democrats in Albany were violating the state constitution. The result? Low turnout, voter confusion and a muddled political picture heading into November.