In the 59 executive and legislative races where a single candidate was on the ballot, the outcome was never in doubt. But blips of resistance did appear in several contests.
In some ways, Assemblyman N. Nick Perry of Brooklyn was the winner of all winners on Nov. 3. He received the highest vote total of anyone running for legislative or executive office: 99.85 percent of the vote in District 58, which covers East Flatbush and part of Canarsie.
While the extent of Perry’s victory was not guaranteed—a few more handfuls of write-in votes in the race and he would have fallen to second-place among all Election 2020 winners in New York City—the outcome was certain from the get-go for he, like 58 other candidates on the ballot in New York City, ran unopposed.
In the lead-up to election day, a City Limits reader reviewing our judicial voters’ guide asked: “If it asks to vote for 3 and there are 3 listed, will all 3 likely get confirmed as judges assuming no write in candidates exceed their totals? Or is it more complicated than that?” Our answer to the second part was, in a word, “No.” It’s not any more complicated than that. An unopposed candidate just needs to get more than any single write-in candidate. And as the chart below demonstrates, the unopposed candidates did not have any trouble doing that.
Those running with no competition included one member of Congress, 10 State Senate candidates, 18 people seeking judicial posts, 29 Assembly hopefuls and one aspiring City Councilmember. Most were Democrats, but a couple of Republicans also enjoyed an easy path to re-election. Most were incumbents but five were newcomers. A few of them were treading a very familiar, suspense-free path: Perry, for one, has not faced a general election opponent since 2006—seven cycles ago—when he had a Conservative rival, whom he defeated in a landslide.
To be sure, these were not the only low-drama elections last week. While a handful of races are awaiting the results of the tally of absentee ballots, most contested races were barely that. In the 12 contested Congressional races that touched the five boroughs last Tuesday, 10 of the winners received more than 60 percent of the vote and seven earned more than three-quarters of the ballots. Most races for lower office were similarly lopsided, whether the dominant Democratic candidate was facing a Republican or someone from a more interesting party, like the candidate from the COVID-19 Stories party, Daniel Maio, whom Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi beat 83 to 16 percent.
Why bother looking at races that were over before they began? The point is not that these candidates did anything wrong; it’s not their fault no party or person stepped up to challenge them. It’s simply this: For better or worse, unopposed candidates and noncompetitive races are a major feature of democracy in New York City—one that should not escape attention amid the understandable focus on the races where outcomes are still in doubt.
What’s more, while no one on this list faced any threat of losing their race, it is interesting to consider the write-in votes, which were minuscule everywhere, but slightly less so in a few races, and wonder what message those voters were trying to send.
To play with this data yourself, please check out the online version of this spreadsheet here.
|Body||District||Candidate||Primary party||Incumbent?||Votes received||Vote share||Write-in votes||Write-in share||Total votes|
|Assembly||58||N. Nick Perry||Democratic||Yes||35737||99.85%||54||0.15%||35791|
|Assembly||29||Alicia L. Hyndman||Democratic||Yes||36311||99.78%||79||0.22%||36390|
|Assembly||32||Vivian E. Cook||Democratic||Yes||33694||99.77%||77||0.23%||33771|
|Assembly||71||Alfred E. Taylor||Democratic||Yes||35520||99.71%||104||0.29%||35624|
|State Senate||10||James Sanders Jr.||Democratic||Yes||76302||99.69%||241||0.31%||76543|
|State Senate||25||Jabari Brisport||Democratic||No||90347||99.61%||352||0.39%||90699|
|State Senate||14||Leroy G. Comrie Jr.||Democratic||Yes||85781||99.60%||343||0.40%||86124|
|State Senate||21||Kevin S. Parker||Democratic||Yes||92004||99.47%||486||0.53%||92490|
|State Senate||19||Roxanne J. Persaud||Democratic||Yes||78184||99.45%||431||0.55%||78615|
|Assembly||52||Jo Anne Simon||Democratic||Yes||45495||99.44%||255||0.56%||45750|
|Assembly||72||Carmen De La Rosa||Democratic||Yes||31272||99.42%||182||0.58%||31454|
|City Council||37||Darma V. Diaz||Democratic||No||31010||99.41%||183||0.59%||31193|
|Assembly||62||Michael W. Reilly Jr.||Republican||Yes||49313||99.33%||332||0.67%||49645|
|Congress||5||Gregory W. Meeks||Democratic||Yes||159032||99.29%||1135||0.71%||160167|
|State Senate||24||Andrew J. Lanza||Republican||Yes||111611||99.19%||906||0.81%||112517|
|Assembly||24||David I. Weprin||Democratic||Yes||24588||99.09%||226||0.91%||24814|
|Assembly||49||Peter J. Abbate Jr.||Democratic||Yes||13497||99.05%||130||0.95%||13627|
|Assembly||59||Jaime R. Williams||Democratic||Yes||32332||99.04%||315||0.96%||32647|
|State Senate||27||Brad M. Hoylman||Democratic||Yes||78799||99.01%||785||0.99%||79584|
|Assembly||75||Richard N. Gottfried||Democratic||Yes||31781||98.97%||331||1.03%||32112|
|State Senate||12||Michael N. Gianaris||Democratic||Yes||73827||98.91%||812||1.09%||74639|
|Assembly||69||Daniel J. O’Donnell||Democratic||Yes||31276||98.81%||377||1.19%||31653|
|State Senate||16||Toby Ann Stavisky||Democratic||Yes||44974||98.78%||555||1.22%||45529|
|Assembly||25||Nily D. Rozic||Democratic||Yes||19012||98.77%||236||1.23%||19248|
|Assembly||36||Zohran Kwame Mamdani||Democratic||No||27182||98.33%||461||1.67%||27643|
|State Senate||17||Simcha Felder||Democratic||Yes||64446||97.98%||1331||2.02%||65777|
|Assembly||50||Emily E. Gallagher||Democratic||No||25390||96.38%||953||3.62%||26343|
|Assembly||67||Linda B. Rosenthal||Democratic||Yes||33127||95.76%||1468||4.24%||34595|
2 thoughts on “An Inordinately Detailed Look at the Most Boring Elections of 2020”
Although interesting, nothing new. Incumbency does have its advantages, and provides a talking point for advocates of term limits. Certainly time in office provides for continuity, experience, and institutional knowledge, but at times it is refreshing to let some new and clean air into a sarcophagus.
This article misses the point. In a heavily democratic NYC, the real races are the primaries — of which many if not most of the candidates listed above had an opponent. Do some research, folks!