New York Primary Races to Watch on June 25

NEW YORK CITY—The June 25 primary elections in several of New York state’s congressional districts are among the most closely watched contests in the nation, pitting against one another candidates with markedly different visions of the future of their own party, the nation, and the world.

The near-even split in the U.S. House of Representatives, with 218 Republicans and 214 Democrats, makes November’s general elections critical for determining the balance of power in Washington.

Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman finds himself the underdog in a hotly contested primary against Westchester County Executive George Latimer. The two-term member of the progressive wing of the party known as The Squad risks being the first incumbent Democrat to lose their primary this election year.

Here’s a look at the key New York primary races to watch on June 25.

New York District 16

In New York’s District 16, which comprises parts of the northern Bronx along with Westchester County, Mr. Latimer is mounting a spirited challenge to Mr. Bowman, who won the election in 2020 by trouncing Eliot Engel, the holder of the seat going all the way back to 1989.

Upon his election to Congress, Mr. Bowman quickly made a name for himself as one of the most vocal members of The Squad and courted controversy, in particular with his votes and public statements about Israel and Hamas’s Oct. 7, 2023, attack on the Jewish state.

Mr. Bowman received a formal censure from the House, after a 214–191 vote, for having pulled a fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building while Congress was in session. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count.

Some prominent Democrats have expressed reservations about Mr. Bowman, who has lost the support of party stalwarts such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who endorsed Mr. Latimer.

Despite FiveThirtyEight polling data that give Mr. Latimer a double-digit lead over the incumbent, Mr. Bowman is still popular with progressives and especially with many younger voters in District 16.

The generational divide follows ideological lines, said David Carlucci, a former New York state senator who used to work for Mr. Engel.

“Younger voters tend to prioritize progressive policies, such as climate action, social justice, and economic inequality, which align with Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s platform and his association with The Squad,” Mr. Carlucci told The Epoch Times.

“In contrast, older voters may prefer the stability and experience that George Latimer represents.”

Notwithstanding Mr. Bowman’s popularity with politically committed youth, Keith Naughton, a political strategist, said Mr. Latimer derives an advantage from his deep experience in Westchester.

“I think George Latimer is the favorite,” Mr. Naughton said. “He has a solid lead in the polls, plus he represents the majority of the district in Westchester County. He is the ideal challenger to Bowman, as most of the Democrats in the 16th district have voted for him multiple times.”

New York District 1

In New York’s District 1, which includes a large swath of eastern Long Island, incumbent Republican Rep. Nick LaLota faces little serious challenge on the GOP side since former Rep. George Santos’s announcement in April that he was abandoning his primary run.

Mr. Santos, who left Congress following a 311–114 vote in favor of his expulsion on Dec. 1, 2023, had hoped to make a comeback in the primary by defeating Mr. LaLota, who has held the district seat since January 2023.

But memories of Mr. Santos’s malfeasance—from campaign finance violations to outlandish claims about his personal history—have simply proved too raw.

“Congressman Nick LaLota has the full support of the Riverhead Republican Committee,” Riverhead Republican Chairwoman Tammy Robinkoff told The Epoch Times.

On the Democrat side, John Avlon and Nancy Goroff both seek their party’s nomination to run against Mr. LaLota in November.

Mr. Avlon, a former speechwriter for powerful Republican Rudy Giuliani, now calls himself “a common-sense Democrat running to flip a swing seat from red to blue in Suffolk County.” He has expressed his desire to help turn the political tide against former President Donald Trump and reclaim leadership in Congress from the former president’s “MAGA minions.”

Ms. Goroff has an academic background and has worked in the nonprofit sector.

New York District 22

In Congressional District 22, covering central New York, there will be no GOP primary because incumbent Brandon Williams, who entered office on Jan. 3, 2023, doesn’t have an opponent.

Instead, two Democrats are slugging it out in Central New York to unseat Mr. Williams. One of them, John Mannion, was recently hit with harassment allegations. As a result, his opponent, Sarah Klee Hood, finds herself well-positioned.

“That primary has been an interesting dynamic of left politics,” Vince Casale, a New York political consultant, told The Epoch Times. “If the left comes out to vote, there could be a chance of an upset because Mannion was the odds-on favorite, but I don’t know if people will feel compelled to give up their endorsements or not.”

In a Facebook video, Ms. Hood discusses personally seeking abortion services and her support of restoring the right to abortion under Roe v. Wade, which was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) data, as of June 20, Ms. Hood had $279,265 in cash on hand, compared with Mr. Mannion’s $868,926.

Although Mr. Williams is leading with $1,053,154, he isn’t necessarily a shoo-in due to redistricting, which has caused the Syracuse-centered seat to lean more heavily Democrat.

“It makes for an interesting dynamic for November in that most people would say the incumbent Brandon Williams is in a bit of trouble,” Mr. Casale said. “But then again, if the further left candidate wins, does that divide the Democrats and actually aid Brandon Williams in the end?”

New York District 17

Similarly, in Congressional District 17, which covers Rockland County, there will be no GOP primary because incumbent Mike Lawler, who also entered office on Jan. 3, 2023, doesn’t have a party opponent.

Democrat Mondaire Jones is gunning to unseat Mr. Lawler, where 59.6 percent of residents in District 17 voted for President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential elections.

“It just means that no one wanted to spend the money to challenge someone they weren’t likely to beat,” Steven R. Schlesinger, a Nassau County attorney who represents Democrat and Republican candidates in various election legalities, told The Epoch Times.

Mr. Jones, a former congressman who previously represented District 17, is currently leading financially with $3,607,134 in cash on hand compared with Mr. Lawler’s $3,317,085, according to FEC data.

Despite the financial edge, Mr. Casale doesn’t believe Mr. Jones will win.

“Michael Lawler has done a good job of making himself not just known but connected in his district,” Mr. Casale said. “I think the people know he’s somebody who shares their values regardless if they’re Republican or Democrat.”

From The Epoch Times