Primaries Bring Out Voters for Progressive Candidates, National Issues - Manhattan Express | Manhattan Express

Primaries Bring Out Voters for Progressive Candidates, National Issues

P.S. 111 in Hell’s Kitchen.

PHOTOS AND REPORTING BY SAM BLEIBERG | New Yorkers showed up like never before to vote in the state primary elections last Thursday. An attention-grabbing gubernatorial campaign, progressive challenges to Democratic senate incumbents, and a close contest for attorney general brought voters of all ages and backgrounds. City Media spoke with voters at P.S. 33 in Chelsea and P.S. 111 in Hell’s Kitchen, to ask what motivated them to show up at the polls. The consensus: New Yorkers felt challenged to make their voices heard in response to their frustrations with the federal government. Statewide turnout almost tripled from the 2014 Democratic governor’s primary race.

That’s not to say candidates at the state level did not inspire New Yorkers. Cynthia Nixon’s challenge to Andrew Cuomo resulted in a 30-point defeat, but her campaign may have bolstered a strong progressive tide that resulted in victorious challenges to incumbents across the city. Kathy Hochul won the contest against Jumaane Williams to run for re-election — but at 53 percent of the vote, her victory was closer than the previous primary. Letitia James, the city’s public advocate, moved a big step closer to becoming the first black woman elected to statewide office in New York with her win over Zephyr Teachout and Sean Patrick Maloney for attorney general.

The ranks of the recently abolished Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) suffered heavy losses on Thursday night. The IDC represented a group of elected Democrats who caucused independently, granting control of the State Senate to Republican lawmakers. Nixon targeted the IDC early on in her campaign, and Cuomo worked with its members to end the arrangement shortly thereafter.

Challengers to former IDC members won several upset races against long-tenured incumbents. Five out of six former IDC candidates lost, including IDC leader Jeff Klein, who lost to Alessandra Biaggi in District 34. On the West Side, Robert Jackson defeated former IDC member Marisol Alcántara in District 31.

Former IDC members benefitted from campaign funds raised by the state’s Independence Party, ruled improper by the New York State Board of Elections. As a show of the scale in the funding disparity between incumbent and challenging candidates, Jeff Klein spent more on his losing race than Nixon on hers. Other victors over former IDC candidates include John Liu, Jessica Ramos, and Zellnor Myrie. Diane Savino is the only former IDC member in the city to win her race.

Other impactful primary decisions include Simcha Felder of District 17, who runs as a Democrat, but previously caucused with Republicans. Andrew Gounardes of District 22 won his primary and will face Republican Marty Golden, Brooklyn’s lone Republican senator, in the general election.

Despite the impressive turnout, there were issues with voter registrations, forcing some supposedly registered voters to cast affidavit ballots. Bill de Blasio’s son, Dante, was among those affected. Others were thrown off by changes in poll sites, leading voters to request better communication from the Board of Elections ahead of polling days.

City Media asked voters fresh from the ballots who they voted for and why, as well as how the city could make voting easier. Read their results and get ready for the general election on November 6.

HELL’S KITCHEN: P.S. 111

CHARLIE TAVARES
Who did you pick in the governor’s race?
Cynthia Nixon, because she’s new. I’m mostly voting against Cuomo.

Which candidate excites you?
Zephyr Teachout. I remember her running several years ago. I remember her politics being refreshing at the time. Also, the fact that she was endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

What issues brought you out to vote?
I want to get rid of the establishment Democrats. That’s the biggest reason I’m here.

What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout?
Make it on a Sunday.

 

STEVE HARRIS
Who did you pick in the governor’s race?
I think Cuomo has done a good job. I don’t think he’s the best governor in the world, but I think he’s done a good job.

Which candidate excites you?
Three of them. I like Andrew Cuomo. I like Kathy Hochul. I’ve been following her since she’s a congressperson. I like her politics and the way she expresses herself. I think she understands what we need and what we’re going for. And I like Sean Patrick Maloney. I followed him as a congressperson and I wasn’t that excited about the other two candidates.

What issues brought you out to vote?
Honestly, I think that being able to check the president [of the United States] right now is the main thing that concerns me.

What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout?/
I like the cards they gave. I carried it in my wallet and I breezed through. I think the press could do more, especially local news that people will watch and see. Someone I worked with didn’t even know today was a primary day. Especially in New York, the primary day is very consequential. One of the things they could do is consolidate them so that state and federal are on the same day. We don’t need to come to the polls three times. We don’t need to pay to come to the polls three times.

 

AMIT DVIR
Who did you pick in the governor’s race?
Cynthia Nixon. I wasn’t sure. I’m not happy with Cuomo, especially his Airbnb policies. Nixon, I’m on the fence. I’m not crazy about her support of big unions, but on the other hand the rest of her platform is progressive. 

Which candidate excites you?
Nobody.

What issues brought you out to vote?
Mostly the fact that I told myself that if anybody seriously opposes Cuomo, I’d vote for them.

What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout?
I never got any letter [in the mail] explaining to me where I’m supposed to vote. Maybe that would be easier for people who aren’t Google-savvy enough to look for themselves.

MARK SUBIAS
Who did you pick in the governor’s race?
Cynthia Nixon. I have been exhausted with Cuomo’s cronyism and entitlement. I really feel like she’s putting her money where her mouth is. On the way she’s conducted her campaign. On the platform issues. On the fact that she’s a liberal Democrat, but she’s interested in reform. That kind of rattles the entire system. I would feel in safer hands with her.

What issues brought you out to vote?
I think it’s accountability. Corruption will exist in academia and hospitals, so in the government is a given. It’s not that it will all go away or be eradicated. That’s impossible. To have it reduced by accountability and transparency. Rather than focusing on one or two issues, that’s one of things across her platform that interests me the most.

What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout?
Phone banks. Candy. I don’t know. I think people have to be concerned citizens. I think it’s generational. I think the next generation is really showing that they care.

P.S. 33 in Chelsea.

CHELSEA: P.S. 33

 

COURT STROUD
Who did you pick in the governor’s race?
I voted for Cynthia Nixon. During most of the campaign, I was not in favor of her candidacy. I think she’s a tremendous actress. I respect and admire her activism — but I think I’m done with non-experienced politicians, given the state we have with Trump. I ended up voting for her because of the anti-Semitic flyer that was sent out and the news that it was an ex-Cuomo aide. If it were a closer race it would have been a harder decision. I voted for her knowing she likely wouldn’t win, as a protest vote so Cuomo understands. She’s raising Jewish children and they’re bringing up anti-Semitism about her? That’s really, really awful.

Which candidate excites you?
I’m really excited about Zephyr Teachout. I’m excited about the entire attorney general race. Any of the four seem like they would be really qualified. There’s a part of me that, because I’m a gay guy, I thought about voting for Sean Patrick Maloney. Because I want to see more people of color, I really was looking at Letitia James and Leecia Eve. Any of the four I think would be great, but after reading the information and reviewing the New York Times’ recommendations, I just think Teachout would be the best choice.

What issues brought you out to vote?
I try to always vote, no matter how minor the election. In particular today, the attorney general is extremely important given that there may be charges brought up against the Trump organization — more so than even the governor or lieutenant governor. I’d have to be dead not to show up today, because the Attorney General of the State of New York is going to be instrumental in changing the history of this country.

What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout?
Two primaries in a year is ridiculous. That’s from the old mob boss days. That has to be cut out. The second thing is, I have to admit I’m used to elections being on Tuesdays. I had been planning on voting for this and it caught me off guard, because it’s a Thursday. I think honestly New York should move to a Saturday voting. There was a time when I was an advocate for online voting. Those days are over given some of the interference we’ve seen from foreign players like the Russians. But I think there should be paper ballots and I think it should be on a Saturday to make it easy for everyone to vote, always.

SERRIA THOMAS
Who did you pick in the governor’s race?
I’ve only lived in New York for a few years, but the issues she’s [Cynthia Nixon] pressing, including the subway, have really rung true with me. We obviously need a change. I’m also a big proponent of women in office. I think we’ve had men in office for long enough, and it’s time to change it up.

Which candidate excites you?
Cynthia Nixon. I think that’s one that affects me on a regular basis so that’s one where I really did the research. I really love Cynthia Nixon’s campaign, and that everyone is trying to get the vote out.

What issues brought you out to vote?
The fact that no one comes to vote in the primary, and then we end up with bad congressmen. I think the current political climate has shown a light on that.

What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout?
The whole voting process is confusing on where you vote and when you vote. I walked to my old location before this, and they weren’t sure where I was supposed to go. I don’t know if there’s an easier system, but I feel like there has to be. I live right down the block so it was super easy. They should let people know it’s just down the block, and you can do it on your way to work.

ROYCE WICK
Who did you pick in the governor’s race?
Cynthia Nixon. I’m ready for change, I’m ready for her to tackle the subway system. I think she’ll do good things for our city.

Which candidate excites you and why?
Cynthia. It’s time to have a woman government. Zephyr Teachout as well.

What issues brought you out to vote?
The MTA is a big one. I think with the current state of our government, we need to vote at a local level.

What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout?
Spread awareness.

ADRIENNE STEIN
Who did you pick in the governor’s race?
Cynthia Nixon, because of her progressive platform.

Which candidate excites you?
I read about Teachout being a good alternative to push the standard Wall Street and real estate powers and address some of the Trump issues as well.

What issues brought you out to vote?
Obviously in the age of Trump we have to activate all voters.

What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout?
Make it easier to register. Register at the [time of the] election.

JULIUS HOLLINGSWORTH
Who did you pick in the governor’s race?
Nixon. I think we need some fresh energy in politics right now. It’s obvious from what we have in there now. 

Which candidate excites you and why?
I was excited that she [Nixon] decided to run, because it’s aligned against her. Not that I think he’s a bad guy. In comparison to Trump I’d vote for him over and over. But I think right now people need to stand strongly in what they really believe. Not that he doesn’t believe in these principles, but I think she is living these principles that she says she stands for.

What issues brought you out to vote?
Right now we need to be more understanding that everybody has a place, not just the wealthy. Everybody should be able to live a decent life. It sounds simple, but obviously from even what is supposed to be low-income housing in New York City is ridiculous to someone who is barely getting by. If you have an entry-level job, that means you have a place where you have a roommate situation, where you may or may not have a lease. This should not be the case. Every person should have a place to stay, food to eat, and the ability to work in a place that is safe. That’s not the situation right now.

What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout?
I wish they could make voting essential for anybody getting services in the state. Even if they say, “I don’t care.” At least they have to come in and say, “I don’t care.” Just like you have to do jury duty, you have to vote. I think it shouldn’t even be a question.

DANNY STEWART

Who did you pick in the governor’s race?
Cynthia Nixon. I was reluctant to vote for her initially, but her attention to the MTA is really needed. It needs a massive overhaul, and that was my main issue. I had no things against Cuomo, but that was my main issue.

Which candidate excites you?
I can’t say I was excited about any other candidate.

What issues brought you out to vote?
I always vote. I never miss an election.

What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout?
I think there are a couple things you can do. One could be to be able to vote online. Make it a day or a couple of days where you can be off of work. Sometimes the lines are really long, and that’s a turn-off. Maybe if you had more places to work it could reduce lines.

DARLENE WATERS
Who did you pick in the governor’s race?
Cuomo, because I think with everything going on with Trump, he needs to stay in there and finish helping us. I think he has more power right now. We need people who are going to stand in there and get the Democrats in.

Which candidate excites you?
Letitia James, because I know her. My union, 1707, she would always come out. She’s all over the place. I like the things she’s been doing.

What issues brought you out to vote?
I want to get rid of Trump. I know the people that are running. I know Jackson and Letitia James very well. I know they are going to do a good job.

What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout?
What they’re doing right now. Media, calling people on the phone, word of mouth, getting in touch with tenants’ associations and people who support the area. 

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