PRIMARY SUSPECTS

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We know how it is: You don’t want to hear any more about the mudslinging between Una Clarke and her former benefactor Major Owens, and you really couldn’t care less about Larry Seabrook’s marital status. We feel your pain. So we’re presenting a handful of Democratic state primary battles that you might not have heard so much about. In most of these races, there aren’t a lot of policy or platform differences between incumbent and challenger. But in districts where Democrats call the shots and the general election is merely a formality, the outcomes of these primaries could mean a lot for New York’s poorer neighborhoods.

43RD ASSEMBLY DISTRICT: Assemblyman and Brooklyn Democratic party chair Clarence Norman, Jr.’s major challenger is James Davis, a cop who runs an anti-violence organization in Crown Heights. The incumbent and insurgent don’t differ much on the issues; one of Davis’ major campaign strategies seems to be accusing Norman of supporting the district’s Hasidic Jews. According to campaign finance records, Norman’s awash in cash ($196,430 this year), completely drowning Davis’ $17,178. But Norman can’t take his win entirely for granted, since he squeaked by with less than a 600-vote margin in the last go-round.

54TH ASSEMBLY DISTRICT: City Councilman Martin Malave-Dilan is gunning for Darryl Towns’ seat. The two used to be friends, but now they’re struggling over this down-at-the-heels Central Brooklyn district, where more than half of the voters lack a high school diploma. Malave-Dilan, running on his record as a City Councilman, claims he will be better at bringing home the bacon–although his pro-landlord votes on 1999’s lead law and 1994’s luxury decontrol law didn’t do much for local tenants. The New York Times endorsed Malave-Dilan, but Towns has won the backing of the Green and Working Families parties.

57TH ASSEMBLY DISTRICT: Insurgent Hakeem Jefferies has been making hay off the charge that Roger Green’s 18-year record in the state Legislature is worthless. Jefferies, a 30-year-old lawyer, had Green on the ropes in mid-summer with nearly five times as much cash as the incumbent. But his suggestion on NY1 that Green’s Muslim faith could distance him from constituents may have backfired, and Green’s been picking up a bit more green since then. Jeffries has the Liberal line; Green has the county organization’s backing. Even if Jefferies loses, we’ll probably be seeing more of him in the future.

68TH ASSEMBLY DISTRICT: Adam Clayton Powell IV is the incumbent: he’s banking on name recognition to win two-term Assemblyman Nelson Denis’ seat away. Powell has a 5-year track record in the City Council and more money; Denis has the power of incumbency and Harlem heavyweights on his side (plus $2,000 from the landlord lobby Neighborhood Preservation PAC). Observers say Denis is smart, likeable and talented, which they don’t say about Powell.