It feels a little bit like Groundhog Day. We were just doing this about a month ago. Can you quickly remind us why we have another primary coming up on August 23rd?
It all goes back to the botched redistricting effort. That’s a process to adjust district lines based on the latest census figures and it happens every 10 years. This year, not unlike 10 years ago, the process ended up in court where a judge ruled the lines were unconstitutional and gerrymandered to benefit the Democrats who have a supermajority in both houses of the state Legislature. The case went all the way up to the Court of Appeals, which ultimately backed the lower court ruling, which split the primary dates into two. Back in June, we voted for statewide races like governor, along with state assembly and party positions, including judicial nominations. The August 23rd primary is for congressional and state Senate contests. And there are some really important races on those ballots, too.
Let’s talk about some of them — what are some of the congressional primary contests you would highlight?
Here in the city, there are just a handful of very high profile races. First, there’s the new 12th Congressional District, which is now all in Manhattan stretching from the east side all the way to the west side, roughly across 14th Street to the south and snaking from 98th Street over to Central Park, and 114th Street at the northern most point.
This race includes a face-off of Democratic titans: Rep. Jerry Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, who has long represented the west side, against Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chair of the House Oversight Committee, who has long represented the east side. Both are in their mid-70s. Then there is Suraj Patel, who has run against Maloney twice before and came very close to ousting her two years ago. He is literally half their age, an attorney, came out of the Obama campaign. And a fourth name on the ballot Ashmi Sheth, who is a first-time candidate who did policy work regulating big banks at the Federal Reserve.
And of course there is that 10th Congressional District with more than a dozen Democrats in the race — minus former Mayor Bill de Blasio, who ended his bid last week, right?
That’s right. The newly drawn 10th Congressional District covers lower Manhattan and into Brooklyn stretching across the waterfront from Dumbo to Red Hook, then into neighborhoods like Park Slope, Sunset Park and Borough Park.
Mayor de Blasio exited the race, and he says, electoral politics for now. But, technically his name will remain on the ballot even though he is not running. It will be alongside 12 other names. Some of the leading contenders are City Council member Carlina Rivera, Assembly members Yuh Line Niou and Jo Ann Simon, current Rep. Mondaire Jones who moved from the Hudson Valley to run in this race, and Trump impeachment attorney Daniel Goldman.
More on other congressional races, and some of the state Senate races to watch in the coming weeks.
We talk about this ahead of each primary, but remind our listeners: can just any registered voter participate?
It’s a really important point, and the answer is no. Only voters who are registered in a party that has a primary can vote in these elections. You can check your registration status at vote.nyc. That’s the homepage for the New York City Board of Elections. Right in the middle of the page there is a button that says, “Am I registered?” Click on that and enter your information. If you are not registered, you can register in person or make sure your application is postmarked by this coming Friday, July 29th. If you are registered, but not with a party or not with the party you want, unfortunately it’s too late to change your party affiliation. That deadline was back in February.
We’re going to be talking a lot about these primaries for the next few weeks, but we can’t forget that there is a general election coming up in November and the big ticket contest there is the race for governor. Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican nominee, has been on a tour across the state where there was an incident with an individual attempting to attack him on stage. What’s the latest?
That’s right. Zeldin was giving a speech in the town of Fairport, outside of Rochester, where a man attempted to accost him with a My Kitty self-defense keychain. Luckily, no one was injured. The man is now facing federal charges for “assaulting a member of Congress using a dangerous weapon.” He faces up to 10 years in prison.
The incident comes as Zeldin talks about issues of crime and criticizes the state’s bail laws. Republicans wasted little time in politicizing the attack on Zeldin, with many blaming the existing bail reform laws and even current Gov. Kathy Hochul, his rival. It’s certainly something we will be hearing more about between now and November.
And in other election news, you reported on Friday about the latest developments in the case over a city law that would allow certain noncitizens to vote in local elections. What is the latest there?
That’s right. Just last week the city decided to appeal a court decision that tossed out a new law set to extend voting rights to certain noncitizens next year. The law is supposed to allow people legally living and working in the city the right to vote in local elections. We’re talking about giving green card holders, people with work permits, dreamers, who live here in the city a say in who represents them for mayor, city comptroller, public advocate, borough president and in the City Council. Last month a Staten Island judge ruled the law violated the state constitution and state election law. The deadline to appeal was this coming Wednesday. There were some advocates who worried the city was dragging its feet. But the city law department did file that notice of appeal on Friday.
I should note there is another case before the same Staten Island judge over whether the law was discriminatory towards Black voters in the city. There is a hearing in that case this coming Friday. It’s unclear how the two cases will impact each other. But ultimately, more to come on all of that.