The news from primary night 2017 is there is almost no news. Democratic voters, turning out in very low numbers, re-nominated the incumbent for mayor, public advocate, Bronx borough president, Brooklyn district attorney and a slew of City Council seats.
Preliminary figures indicate that despite fierce challenges in several districts, not a single incumbent Council member was defeated.
The sitting member in the most peril looked to be Margaret Chin, who represents lower Manhattan and was targeted by foes of development in that area. But with 99 percent of the vote recorded on Wednesday morning, she clung to a 200-vote lead with 45.8 percent of the vote over Christopher Marte with 44 percent.
Elsewhere in Manhattan, Helen Rosenthal crushed Mel Wymore with 65 percent of the vote on the Upper East Side. Bill Perkins running to retain the West Harlem seat he won through special election in February but held from 1998-2005 before moving to the State Senate, scored a commanding win with 49 percent against five other candidates. In Washington Heights and Inwood, Ydanis Rodriguez cruised against Josue Perez. Ben Kallos and Mark Levine dispatched challengers as well.
Fernando Cabrera took 55 percent of the vote against an energetic challenge by Randy Abreu. Andy King and Rafael Salamanca beat back less robust challenges.
On Staten Island, incumbent Debi Rose beat Kamillah Hanks by a two to one margin. Brooklyn’s Mathieu Eugene, Laurie Cumbo and Carlos Menchaca—all of whom faced strong challenges—prevailed. Jumanne Williams, Antonio Reynoso, Inez Barron and Chaim Deutch did as well. Queens reps Peter Koo and Paul Vallone also survived, though Vallone only by about 400 votes out of 5500 cast. Barry Grodenchik, Elizabeth Crowley, Daneek Miller and Rory Lancman were renominated with little drama.
Michael G. Scala won a Democratic primary to challenge incumbent Republican Councilmember Eric Ulrich, whose district covers Ozone Park down to the east end of the Rockaway Peninsula.
The open seats
The real drama of the night lay in the contests for open Council seats. Diana Ayala appear to squeak out a win over Robert Rodriguez for the Democratic slot in the district now represented by outgoing Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, but Rodriguez did not concede. Carolina Rivera and Keith Powers won the Democratic primaries in districts 2 and 4 in Manhattan, respectively.
In the East Bronx, Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj—who raised and spent a tremendous amount of money in the race—placed first in a five-candidate field with 39 percent of the vote to runner-up Marjorie Velazquez’s 34 percent. That seat is held now by the term-limited James Vacca. Ruben Diaz Sr., the state senator whose son is the borough president, won 42 percent of the vote in a district anchored in Soundview that Anabel Palma now represents.
Diaz voted late in the morning. As he left the polls, he was asked if he was nervous or excited. “I’m leaving the Senate. The Senate is bigger than this. I’m not running for higher office. I’m running for lower office.” Asked what his top priority would be if he is elected on November 7, he demurred. “There are too many things on my mind.”
Alicka Ampry-Samuel garnered a solid 31 percent in a nine-person field in the district now served by Darlene Mealy in Brownsvile, and Justin Brannan bested a handful of rivals in the district where Vincent Gentile is term-limited in Bay Ridge, while John Quaglione won the Republican primary in that district—about the only “swing district” in the city.
And in Queens, Adrienne Adams won the Democratic primary in the district that is vacant now after Ruben Wills conviction on corruption charges, while Assemblyman Francisco Moya netted a comfortable win against Hiram Monserrate.