Marking the end of New York’s split primary season (federal primaries held on June 26, 2018), incumbent Andrew Cuomo secured his victory over actress and activist, Cynthia Nixon with a dashing 65.6% majority. In November, Cuomo will face Republican Marc Molinaro to defend his incumbency.
Despite losing the primary, Nixon was credited for running an aggressive campaign against Cuomo, forcing him to push his agenda further to the left. In the contemporary Trump-era, Cuomo has been forced, over time, to present himself as a progressive, when, historically, he has spent most of his career governing from the center. This push to the left for Cuomo showed clearly when he stated that America was “never that great,” during a speech about gender equality and women’s rights. In the past, the incumbent has been extremely cautious of criticizing Republicans in order to maintain friendly working relationships with them, but his recent dealings with Trump and his administration have shown otherwise. Cuomo has called Trump the “Great Divider-in-Chief,” and has openly critiqued him for the way he treats and speak to women, i.e. when Trump called Omarosa a “low-life” and a “dog” when she began to expose his cabinet. Although Cuomo has shown signs of transitioning further to the left, many remain skeptical of his intentions.
Letitia James won the Democratic primary for the Attorney General position with 40.6% of the vote, followed by Zephyr Teachout with 31%, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D) with 25% and Leecia Eve with 3.4%. James will face Republican Keith Wofford in the fall for the Attorney General position. The victor of that election will replace ex-Attorney General Eric Schneiderman who resigned in May after several accusations of sexual assault surfaced against him. If elected, James would be the first black woman elected to statewide office in New York.
In another triumph for the insurgent progressive movement, Democratic Socialist Julia Salazar won the primary for the New York State Senate in the 18th district against eight-term incumbent, Sen. Martin Dilan. Salazar’s campaign gained national media attention, especially after Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, another democratic socialist, bested ten-term incumbent Joe Crowley in the 14th district of New York. Salazar ran, not only against Senator Dilan, but also against controversies surrounding her past. During her race, Salazar’s brother publicly accused her of lying about her upbringing. Whereas Salazar claimed to be an immigrant coming from a working-class family, her brother denied this information, claiming that she really came from a middle-class background, and that both Salazar and her mother were actually born in the United States. Along with this, Tablet, an online Jewish publication, raised doubt over Salazar’s “self-created” Jewish identity. Although these accusations are serious, they were not enough to disadvantage Salazar in the primary race against Sen. Martin Dilan.
This primary season has displayed an increasing demand for diversity in representation. As we have seen many women and candidates of color triumph thus far, it is critical that the citizens of the United States follow these important races.