NY Primaries Heat Up: Meet the Ex-Con and Underdog Taking on AOC

Jim Vallee / shutterstock.com
Jim Vallee / shutterstock.com

Get ready for New York’s primary circus on June 25! It’s a lineup straight out of a reality show: from upstart Democratic Socialists and an underdog businessman eyeing AOC’s throne to a former con trying for a political comeback. The drama kicks off with AOC refusing even to acknowledge her Wall Street opponent, opting instead to host a “Save the Squad” rally with Bernie Sanders.

The nine-day early voting period commenced last Saturday, setting the stage for a contentious battle across several key districts. In the 14th Congressional District, incumbent Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez faces a challenge from retired Wall Street banker Marty Dolan, who she has notably declined to debate. Instead, Ocasio-Cortez has redirected her focus towards supporting fellow “Squad” member Rep. Jamaal Bowman, who faces his own formidable opponent in moderate George Latimer, the Westchester County executive.

In Suffolk County’s 1st Congressional District, several Democratic candidates are challenging the Republican incumbent, Nick LaLota. The primary race features centrist John Avlon, a former Giuliani speechwriter and CNN analyst, going up against liberal Stony Brook University Professor Nancy Goroff, who is seeking a rematch after her loss to Lee Zeldin in 2020.

Don’t miss the Brooklyn Assembly brawl, where an incumbent, Assemblywoman Stefani Zimmerman, backed by big names, is fending off a DSA-backed challenger, Eon Huntley, amidst significant community support splits.

The 82nd District in the Bronx sees another rematch, with veteran Assemblyman Michael Benedetto facing off against DSA-backed Jonathan Soto, highlighting stark ideological divisions on police funding.

In Queens’ 40th Assembly District, Assemblyman Ron Kim, known for his advocacy against COVID-related nursing home policies, faces businessman Yi Andy Chen in a closely watched primary. NYC Mayor Eric Adams endorses Kim.

In the 37th District of Queens, the first-term Democratic incumbent Assemblyman Juan Ardila, whose sex abuse accusations have tarnished them, is facing a challenge from party-backed candidate Johanna Carmona and DSA-supported candidate Claire Valdez.

Notably, former city councilman, ex-state senator, and ex-con Hiram Monserrate is trying to claw his way back into politics in Queens’ vacant 35th Assembly District, challenging party favorite Larinda Hooks.

Additionally, a Conservative Party primary in the Hudson Valley’s 42nd state senatorial district may influence the general election outcome as Democratic Sen. James Skoufis prepares for a rematch against Republican Dorey Houle amidst challenges within the Conservative Party.

With these antics at play, New York’s primary elections are shaping up to be a wild circus where backroom deals, neighborhood loyalties, and ideological showdowns will duke it out for control of the local political playground.