Election results: AOC, Progressives Here to Stay With Assembly Upsets

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Photo by Tsubasa Berg)

Incumbents and their challengers went neck and neck in Queens in the primary election with some old guard lawmakers holding on tightly to their seats and while others watched theirs slip through their fingers, preliminary results show. 

The results are preliminary since this year’s local election was held in the shadow of a global pandemic. The final results from Tuesday’s contest are complicated by the reduced amount of in-person voting and the unusually high number of absentee ballots. Absentee ballots –– which haven’t been counted yet –– were requested in record numbers by registered voters because of the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Board of Election had already received more than 39,000 of the nearly 176,000 absentee ballots requested by voters in Queens. There were also reports of poll workers not handing out the two ballots voters needed to fill out on Tuesday –– one for the presidential primary and one for the local primaries –– adding further complication to the final tally. 

According to unofficial numbers, the incumbents for the U.S. House of Representatives and New York State Senate won their primaries, including in the closely watched race for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s seat in the 14th Congressional District.

With 89.77% reporting, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Astoria, College Point, Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside, parts of the Bronx) successfully defended her seat against her three opponents –– Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Badrun Khan, and Samuel Sloan –– with just over 72% of the vote. Her likely win further solidifies the role of progressive politics within the Democratic Party and U.S. politics, she said.

“When we won in 2018, we were called a fluke by politicians, by media, by so many people that are, kind of tend to be part of this more powerful establishment,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a Facebook live video to her supporters. “What you all have shown is that a people’s movement here is not an accident, it is a mandate.”

State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood and Woodhaven), who won his primary against Iggy Terranova for the 12th Senatorial District with nearly three quarters of the vote, echoed her statement in a video posted on his Twitter.

“You made yourselves heard like never before and the results speak for themselves,” he said in the video to his constituents. “Make no mistake. Our opponents wanted this to be a referendum on the progressive movement in the Democratic party, and, boy was it ever.”

Meanwhile all of the upsets in Queens took place in New York State Assembly races. 

District 36 Assemblymember Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) received just over 46% of the vote while her opponent, Zohran Kwame Mamdani, took the lead with over 53% of the vote. Assemblymember Michael Miller (D- Woodhaven, Ridgewood, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park, Glendale) lost to Jenifer Rajkumar, who received more than half of the votes in Assembly District 38.

And previously unchallenged Assemblymember Michael G. DenDekker (D-Jackson Heights, Woodside, East Elmhurst) lost in his first primary as an incumbent to opponent Jessica González-Rojas who received nearly 20% more of the votes than DenDekker did in the 34th Assembly District race.

A representative from González-Rojas’s campaign said in a text that that the campaign was “cautiously optimistic” about the preliminary results, none of which include the final tally from every district’s precinct nor the uncounted absentee ballots.

In other races around Queens: Queens County Democratic Party Chairman Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-The Rockaway Peninsula, Broad Channel, Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, Laurelton, Queens Village, Rosedale, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, South Ozone Park, John F. Kennedy International Airport and parts of Nassau County) of the 5th Congressional District and Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D- parts of Queens, Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan) of the 7th Congressional District squarely beat their opponents by winning nearly 80% of the vote each. 

Rep. Thomas R. Suozzi (D – Little Neck, Whitestone, Glen Oaks, Floral Park, and the North Shore of Long Island) took more than 50% of the vote in the 3rd Congressional District and Rep. Grace Meng (D- Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park) took 60% in the 6th Congressional District. 

Meanwhile, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria, Long Island City, and parts of Woodside, parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, Roosevelt Island) barely scraped through with 41% of the vote in the 12th Congressional District with Suraj Patel in a close second at nearly 40% of the vote.

State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D- Jackson Heights, Corona, Astoria, Woodside, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst) received around 84% of the vote in the 13th Senatorial District, crushing her opponent.

At the Assembly level, Assemblymembers David Weprin (D-Richmond Hill, Fresh Meadows) of the 24th Assembly District and Catherine Nolan (D-Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Long Island City, Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Astoria, Woodside, Maspeth, Dutch Kills, Blissville) of the 37th Assembly District kept their seats with each receiving around half of the votes from their district. 

Khaleel Anderson is the frontrunner to fill the vacant 31st Assembly District seat with nearly 38% of the vote. 

Assemblymember Clyde Vanel (D-Queens Village) of the 33rd Assembly District and Assemblymember Catalina Cruz (D-Corona, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) of the 39th Assembly District won with 87% and 84% of the votes in their districts respectively. 

Assemblymember Ron Kim (D-Flushing) kept his seat with 69% of the vote in the 40th Assembly District, while 28 year veteran Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry (D- East Elmhurst, LeFrak City, parts of Corona, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Elmhurst) maintained his seat in the 35th Assembly District with nearly 65% of the vote. 

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