2020 Congressional Primary Guide: Pandemic Edition
2020 Congressional Primary Guide: Pandemic Edition
The coronavirus has changed everything about New York’s congressional races. Thousands of New Yorkers have died, unemployment has soared, and Congress is choosing who gets government aid – and how much. New York voters will get to do some choosing too, in this year’s congressional elections. Twenty-three members of the state’s House delegation are running for reelection this year and another four seats are open, thanks to retirements and resignations.
First up is the June 23 primary election, and in many deeply partisan districts, that’s a bigger deal than the general election. Don’t forget, it was just two years ago that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pulled off the congressional upset of the decade. Subsequent primary losses by a series of state senators later in 2018 only upped the ante. With many candidates inspired by those victories, 2020 has more Democratic primary challenges than any year in recent history – and maybe ever. But now that incumbents are stepping up during the crisis, and since door-to-door campaigning is effectively impossible, the slim chances that challengers had at victory may have gotten even slimmer.
But that’s only part of the story. For some representatives, particularly those far from New York City, it’ll likely be business as usual as they win reelection with little to no formal opposition. And of course, Republicans are eager to win back the three House seats Democrats flipped in 2018’s “blue wave,” while setting their sights on grabbing even more seats. Democrats, too, are coveting new seats as well, both upstate and on Long Island. And Western New Yorkers will finally get to fill the congressional seat that’s been empty since former Rep. Chris Collins resigned over insider trading charges in October.
Thanks to the pandemic, the primary will be unlike any other in the state’s history, with unprecedented numbers of people voting by mail with absentee ballots. Gov. Andrew Cuomo expanded the practice by executive order, and no one is quite sure what turnout will look like. It’s even less clear what the world will look like on Election Day on Nov. 3.
Here’s how all 27 congressional races are shaping up across the state. This information is updated as of May 19.
Congressional District 1
Incumbent: Lee Zeldin (R)
2016 presidential results: Trump +12
2018 Democratic primary results: Perry Gershon 36%, Kate Browning 31%, Vivian Viloria-Fisher 16%, David Pechefsky 12%, Elaine DiMasi 6%
2018 general election results: Zeldin 51%, Gershon 47%
2020 candidates: Zeldin (R), Gershon (D), Nancy Goroff (D), Bridget Fleming (D), Gregory-John Fischer (D)
In 2018, businessman Perry Gershon ran an unsuccessful bid for Rep. Lee Zeldin’s congressional seat on the eastern end of Long Island. Gershon spent big and came tantalizingly close to flipping the seat blue. Now, he’s trying again in 2020, and will likely argue once again that Zeldin’s ardent support for President Donald Trump is out of touch with the relatively moderate district that was represented by a Democrat until 2014. But Gershon has some competition for the Democratic nomination. Nancy Goroff was the chairwoman of Stony Brook University’s chemistry department until she launched her campaign, and she claims she would be the first woman scientist in Congress who has a Ph.D. Bridget Fleming, a Suffolk County legislator and former Manhattan prosecutor, is also running, as is Gregory-John Fischer, a business consultant who has failed in previous runs for Suffolk County executive – as a libertarian – and for state Senate as a Democrat. This district contains the Hamptons, so it’s no surprise the candidates are raising a ton – both Goroff and Gershon had brought in more than $1 million through March 31.
Zeldin, one of only two Jewish Republicans in the House, is an Army veteran and an ardent Trump supporter. He managed to avoid a primary for the Republican nomination and has been amassing a huge war chest for what’s likely to be a tough reelection battle in the swing district.
Congressional District 2
Nassau and Suffolk counties
Incumbent: Pete King (R)
2016 presidential results: Trump +9
2018 Democratic primary results: Liuba Grechen Shirley 58%, DuWayne Gregory 42%
2018 general election results: King 53%, Grechen Shirley 47%
2020 candidates: Jackie Gordon (D), Patricia Maher (D), Andrew Garbarino (R), Michael LiPetri (R), Daniel Craig Ross (I), Phillip MacRaurí (I), Harry Burger (G)
Rep. Pete King, the 14-term incumbent and fixture in New York Republican politics, announced on Veterans Day he wouldn’t be running for reelection, kickstarting what’s sure to be a fierce tussle for the seat from both parties. While the district voted for Trump in 2016, the area – like many suburban districts nationally – seems to be drifting blue, making the seat a target for Democrats. Though some thought King’s retirement would open the floodgates to new candidates, it looks like Democrats are sticking with Jackie Gordon, a member of the Babylon Town Council and a retired lieutenant Army colonel who was already running against King. Gordon has the local Democratic Party’s backing as well as national support, but she’ll face Patricia Maher, a former director of development at a nonprofit who ran against King in 2014.
On the Republican side, the GOP establishment is lining up behind Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino, an attorney who has served in the state Legislature since 2013. He’s earned the endorsement of party leaders in both the Nassau and Suffolk counties, King and Rep. Lee Zeldin. That support was enough to get Suffolk County Board of Elections Commissioner Nicholas LaLota to drop out of the race and run for state Senate instead. But Garbarino will still face a primary challenge from his legislative colleague, Assemblyman Michael LiPetri.
Also in the race are Harry Burger of the Green Party, Phillip MacRaurí, who is running as an independent,Daniel Craig Ross, a 28-year-old independent running on a platform of a $1,000-a-month universal basic income. He was previously running in District 3 before switching districts.
Congressional District 3
Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties
Incumbent: Thomas Suozzi (D)
2016 presidential results: Clinton +6
2018 Democratic primary results: Suozzi 100%
2018 general election results: Suozzi (D) 59%, Dan DeBono (R) 41%
2020 candidates: Suozzi (D), Melanie D’Arrigo (D), Michael Weinstock (D), George Anthony Devolder-Santos (R) Howard Rabin (L)
Democratic Rep. Thomas Suozzi went unchallenged in the 2018 primaries, but now has several insurgents eager to take him on. First is Democratic activist and wellness professional Melanie D’Arrigo, who’s positioning herself as a far-left alternative to the more centrist Suozzi. D’Arrigo has said Suozzi has not gone far enough in condemning Trump’s immigration policies and that he is too cozy with corporate America. Then there’s Michael Weinstock, a gay former Brooklyn prosecutor, volunteer fireman and 9/11 first responder, who is running to the left of Suozzi, and is pledging to treat Queens residents equally in the Long Island-dominated district. Joshua Sauberman, a former United Nations analyst and insurance broker who briefly challenged Suozzi in 2018 planned to run again in 2020, but has since dropped out and endorsed D’Arrigo.
It’s a safe blue district, but whoever wins the primary is likely to face Republican George Anthony Devolder-Santos in the general election. He’s a Queens native who’s worked in various jobs in finance and earned the endorsement of the Nassau County GOP. Libertarian Party candidate Howard Rabin is also running in the general election.
Congressional District 4
Incumbent: Kathleen Rice (D)
2016 presidential results: Clinton +10
2018 Democratic primary results: Rice 100%
2018 general election results: Rice (D) 61%, Ameer Benno (R) 39%
2020 candidates: Rice (D), Cindy Grosz (R), Douglas Tuman (R), Joseph Naham (G)
Third-term Rep. Kathleen Rice got some national attention this term for leading the charge to replace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, arguing that she needed to make room for younger generations in the House leadership. Rice represents a politically moderate district as a centrist Democrat who, according to WNYC, is one of the most likely House Democrats to work across the aisle. She has avoided a primary, and that bipartisan spirit will likely help her cruise to victory once again in the suburban district. But first, two Republicans will face off in a primary: Cindy Grosz, a Jewish activist and media personality, and Douglas Tuman, a cryptocurrency enthusiast and the commissioner of engineering for Hempstead. Green Party candidate Joseph Naham is also running in the general election.
Congressional District 5
Queens and Nassau County
Incumbent: Gregory Meeks (D)
2016 presidential results: Clinton +73
2018 Democratic primary results: Meeks 82%, Carl Achille 10%, Mizan Choudhury 9%
2018 general election results: Meeks 100%
2020 candidates: Meeks (D), Shaniyat Chowdhury (D), Amit Lal (I)
Rep. Gregory Meeks, who entered Congress in 1998, was elected the chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party earlier this year. The well-funded, proud capitalist has never faced a serious challenge for his Southeast Queens seat, but will be one of many incumbent Democrats facing a challenge from the left in 2020 – in this case, from a 27-year-old democratic socialist military veteran and bartender, Shaniyat Chowdhury. The first-time candidate is a longshot, but is hoping to get support from the same progressive movement that got behind Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Queens district attorney candidate Tiffany Cabán. Also in the race is Amit Lal, a logistics coordinator at a shipping company who says he can work both sides of the aisle as a registered independent. Meeks isn’t likely to face much of a challenge. Through March 31, Meeks had more than $600,000 in his campaign account. Chowdhury had had just over $17,000 and Lal just over $5,000.
Congressional District 6
Incumbent: Grace Meng (D)
2016 presidential results: Clinton +33
2018 Democratic primary results: Meng 100%
2018 general election results: Meng (D) 91%, Tom Hillgardner (G) 9%
2020 candidates: Meng (D), Sandra Choi (D), Melquiades Gagarin (D), Thomas Zmich (R)
Rep. Grace Meng has comfortably won reelection since taking office in 2013, but this year she’s facing a pair of primary challengers. Mel Gagarin, a Filipino American member of the Democratic Socialists of America, will challenge Meng from the left, supporting universal basic income and the abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He has previously worked in politics, including on Tiffany Cabán’s campaign for Queens district attorney, and unsuccessfully ran for New York City Council in 2009. Also challenging Meng from the left is Sandra Choi, an economic development policy expert, who has attacked Meng’s machine ties. Choi grew up in Queens and her parents emigrated from South Korea. Meng, who has built a national profile as a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, will not be hurting for institutional support in the primary, and has vastly outraised her opponents.
The seat is all but guaranteed to stay in Democratic hands, but Republican Thomas Zmich, a U.S. Army veteran, member of the bricklayers union and president of a pro-Trump group called MAGA Queens, has filed to run.
Congressional District 7
Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens
Incumbent: Nydia Velázquez (D)
2016 presidential results: Clinton +77
2018 Democratic primary results: Velázquez 100%
2018 general election results: Velázquez (D) 93%, Joseph Lieberman (C) 6%
2020 candidates: Velázquez (D), Paperboy Love Prince (D), Iroghama Christianna Omere (I)
As a 14-term Latina with progressive bona fides, Rep. Nydia Velázquez didn’t seem like the kind of candidate who’d have to worry about a primary challenge. That’s not stopping Bushwick-based performance artistPaperboy Love Prince from trying to garner attention with a run. Prince, a major supporter of Andrew Yang’s presidential campaign, is running a left-leaning campaign based on support for universal basic income, but seems to be focusing entirely on social media – he hasn’t reported raising or spending a single cent. Iroghama Christianna Omere, a middle school science teacher and a member of the conservative Federalist Society, has also filed to run as an independent.
Congressional District 8
Incumbent: Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D)
2016 presidential results: Clinton +71
2018 Democratic primary results: Jeffries 100%
2018 general election results: Jeffries (D) 94%, Ernest Johnson (C) 5%
2020 candidates: Jeffries (D)
Less than eight years into his tenure in Congress, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries has taken a leadership position not just among the New York delegation, but all House Democrats as the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. His predecessor in that position, former Rep. Joe Crowley, showed that nobody is untouchable – but Jeffries is close to it. He may be the only member of New York’s congressional delegation to be uncontested in a primary and the general election. Needless to say, a 2018 Politico report that Jeffries was the “highest priority” target for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and leftist political group Justice Democrats – something Ocasio-Cortez later denied – never resulted in anything. Insurance salesman and president of the Howard Beach Kiwanis Club, Abe Jamie Garcia, had filed to run as a Democrat in October, but never ended up mounting a campaign.
Congressional District 9
Incumbent: Yvette Clarke (D)
2016 presidential results: Clinton +69
2018 Democratic primary results: Clarke 52%, Adem Bunkeddeko 48%
2018 general election results: Clarke (D) 89%, Lutchi Gayot (R) 10%
2020 candidates: Clarke (D), Bunkeddeko (D), Isiah James (D), Chaim Deutsch (D), Lutchi Gayot (D), Joel Azumah (I) Gary Popkin (L)
It seems that community development professional Adem Bunkeddeko’s nearly successful challenge to seven-term Rep. Yvette Clarke two years ago has other candidates eager to mount their own campaigns. Bunkeddeko has been itching for a rematch, and will likely once again accuse Clarke of being a do-nothing legislator. Isiah James, an Army veteran and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, will likely say Clarke isn’t progressive enough. Lutchi Gayot, who ran unsuccessfully as a Republican in 2018, is running this cycle as a Democrat. As is New York City Councilman Chaim Deutsch, a conservative Democrat who’s making an electoral play for the district’s Orthodox Jewish minority. Also in the race areJoel Azumah, an independent who has run the past three cycles without having much of an impact, and Gary Popkin, a Libertarian activist. Having multiple Democratic challengers, plus the support of the Brooklyn Democratic establishment, will likely make Clarke even more difficult to unseat than two years ago.
Congressional District 10
Incumbent: Jerry Nadler (D)
2016 presidential results: Clinton +60
2018 primary results: Nadler 100%
2018 general election results: Nadler (D) 82% Naomi Levin (R) 18%
2020 candidates: Nadler (D), Lindsey Boylan (D), Jonathan Herzog (D), Cathy Bernstein (R), Michael Madrid (L), Jeanne Nigro (I)
Rep. Jerry Nadler was first elected to Congress in 1992, and the powerful House Judiciary Committee chairman hasn’t faced a serious electoral challenge since. That seemed to have changed this year, when six candidates lined up to challenge him. Most have dropped out, but two made the primary ballot, including Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo who has run an energetic campaign and says that Nadler isn’t active enough and previously criticized his hesitancy to impeach President Donald Trump There’s also Jonathan Herzog, a former Andrew Yang presidential campaign staffer advocating for universal basic income. With more than one antiestablishment challenger in the primary, the popular, highly visible and well-funded Nadler is all but guaranteed victory.
This seat is as safely blue as it gets, but Cathy Bernstein, a tax accountant, is running on the Republican Party line. Michael Madrid is running in the general election as a Libertarian, and Christian self-help minister Jeanne Nigro has also filed to run as an independent.
Congressional District 11
Staten Island, Brooklyn
Incumbent: Max Rose (D)
2016 presidential results: Trump +10
2018 Democratic primary results: Rose 65%, Michael DeVito 19%, Others combined 16%
2018 general election results: Rose (D) 53%, Dan Donovan (R-incumbent) 47%
2020 candidates: Rose (D), Nicole Malliotakis (R), Joseph Caldarera (R)
First-term Rep. Max Rose is a rare Democrat to represent this traditionally red Staten Island seat, so this is shaping up to be a real general election battle for the city’s one swing seat. But first, Republican voters will need to pick their champion in the primary. Five-term Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis seems to be the front-runner and has already earned support from President Donald Trump and the national GOP establishment, which has helped her with fundraising. But Joseph Caldarera, a 27-year-old staunchly conservative former assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, is challenging Malliotakis, arguing she isn’t conservative enough. Since Democrats see Rose as their best chance to hold on to the seat, he’s avoided a primary and will be able use his entire campaign account of more than $3 million in the general election.
Congressional District 12
Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn
Incumbent: Carolyn Maloney (D)
2016 presidential results: Clinton +70
2018 Democratic primary results: Maloney 59%, Suraj Patel 41%
2018 general election results: Maloney (D) 86%, Eliot Rabin (R) 12%
2020 candidates: Maloney (D), Patel (D), Lauren Ashcraft (D), Peter Harrison (D), Carlos Santiago-Cano (R), Steven Kolln (L)
It seems like everyone has their eyes on Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s three-borough seat, thanks to attorney and political operative Suraj Patel’s spirited 2018 primary challenge that exposed the 14-term congresswoman’s political vulnerabilities as the embodiment of the Upper East Side’s old-guard Democratic establishment. Patel, a political activist and NYU business professor, will be challenging her once again, but this time it won’t be one-on-one. Also on the ballot will be Lauren Ashcraft, a 30-year-old comedian and former JPMorgan Chase & Co. project manager living in Queens, who’s running on a left-leaning platform of getting money out of politics, and Peter Harrison, a housing activist and Democratic Socialist, who will also be challenging Maloney from the left. Maloney won the primary comfortably in 2018, and the conditions may be even more favorable for the newly minted Oversight Committee chairwoman this year.
The district is about as safely Democratic as it gets, but Carlos Santiago-Cano, real estate broker and president of a car service company, is running on the Republican Party line and Steven Kolln on the Libertarian line.
Congressional District 13
Incumbent: Adriano Espaillat (D)
2016 presidential results: Clinton +87
2018 Democratic primary results: Espaillat 100%
2018 general election results: Espaillat (D) 95%, Jineea Butler (R) 5%
2020 candidates: Espaillat (D), James Felton Keith (D), Ramon Rodriguez (D), Lovelynn Gwinn (R), Christopher Morris-Perry (C)
Race has always been front and center in this district, and some observers saw the Dominican Republic-born Rep. Adriano Espaillat’s 2016 election as a sign that power was shifting from historically black Harlem and into the Latino stronghold of Washington Heights. That dynamic will be at play once again in 2020, with black Harlemite James Felton Keith mounting a primary challenge against Espaillat. “JFK,” a bisexual entrepreneur who briefly ran last cycle, has put together a slick campaign running on idiosyncratic policies like creating a universal basic income. Also in the race is Ramon Rodriguez, a business etiquette expert. Both face an uphill battle against Espaillat, who has been in politics for decades and will likely have the full force of the Democratic establishment on his side.
Two other long shots are running in the safely blue district – Lovelynn Gwinn, a Harlem landlord running as a Republican, and Christopher Morris-Perry, who’s aiming for the Conservative Party line.
Congressional District 14
Incumbent: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D)
2016 presidential results: Clinton +58
2018 Democratic primary results: Ocasio-Cortez 57%, Joe Crowley 43%
2018 general election results: Ocasio-Cortez 78%, Anthony Pappas (R) 14%, Crowley (WFP) 7%
2020 candidates: Ocasio-Cortez (D), Michelle Caruso-Cabrera (D), Badrun Khan (D), Samuel Sloan (D), John Cummings (R)
Politically moderate Democrats have taken aim at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the democratic socialist movement she represents in Congress. It’ll be hard to unseat the extremely well-funded international celebrity, but three Democrats are trying. There’s Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a former news anchor on CNBC who used to be a Republican; Badrun Khan, a financial officer and member of Queens Community Board 2; and Samuel Sloan, a chess player and perennial candidate.
The two-borough seat is solidly Democratic, but that won’t stop Republicans from taking a chance to challenge AOC’s politics. Some nine Republicans initially filed to run, but John Cummings, ahigh school teacher and former police officer managed to clear the field, and will presumably be on the ballot in November.
Congressional District 15
Incumbent: José E. Serrano (D)
2016 presidential results: Clinton +89
2018 Democratic primary results: Serrano 100%
2018 general election results: Serrano (D) 96%, Jason Gonzalez (R) 4%
2020 candidates: Tomas Ramos (D), Samelys López (D), Frangell Basora (D), Melissa Mark-Viverito (D), Michael Blake (D), Rubén Díaz Sr. (D), Mark Escoffery-Bey (D), Ritchie Torres (D), Chivona Newsome (D), Ydanis Rodriguez (D), Julio Pabón (D), Marlene Tapper (D), Patrick Delices (R)
After serving three decades in Congress, Rep. José E. Serrano isn’t seeking reelection next year, making this South Bronx seat one of the few open seats in the state. Now it’s the busiest race in the state, with 12 Democrats running to replace Serrano, including a handful of prominent current and former liberal elected officials: Assemblyman Michael Blake, who has a national profile as a vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and current New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, both of whom live outside the district in Manhattan, and New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres, who has dominated fundraising so far by bringing in nearly $1.3 million through March 31. But some progressives fear the crowd could split the liberal vote and hand the race to New York City Councilman Rubén Díaz Sr., the socially conservative Christian pastor with a long history of anti-gay remarks. Other candidates include Samelys López, a housing activist who has earned support from powerhouses like the Working Families Party and the Democratic Socialists of America despite being a first-time candidate, and Chivona Newsome, an insurance agent who became the director of operations with Black Lives Matter in New York. Also on the ballot are Tomas Ramos, a nonprofit program director; Frangell Basora, a former congressional intern; Mark Escoffery-Bey, a copy center owner who ran for Bronx borough president in 2013; Julio Pabón, an entrepreneur; and Marlene Tapper, a former New York City Council aide.
It may be the state’s most Democratic district, but Patrick Delices, a professor who has previously run for the New York City Council, is planning to run on the Republican Party and Conservative Party lines.
Congressional District 16
Bronx, Westchester County
Incumbent: Eliot Engel (D)
2016 presidential results: Clinton +53
2018 Democratic primary results: Engel 74%, Jonathan Lewis 16%, Joyce Briscoe 6%, Derickson Lawrence 4%
2018 general election results: Engel 100%
2020 candidates: Engel (D), Andom Ghebreghiorgis (D), Jamaal Bowman (D), Samuel Ravelo (D), Chris Fink (D)
Last year, 16-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel easily defeated three primary challengers and ran unopposed in the general. Engel will still be the odds-on favorite for reelection in 2020, but he’ll likely be facing more of a challenge than before with a handful of candidates hoping to unseat him. Jamaal Bowman, a Bronx middle school principal, has already received some attention from the national press thanks to his backing from national groups like Justice Democrats, a progressive political action committee aligned with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Like Ocasio-Cortez before him, Bowman is making the case that the district needs a younger, more progressive candidate of color. Andom Ghebreghiorgis, a special education teacher, is also planning to run to Engel’s left, criticizing the incumbent for taking money from corporate political action committees. Bowman and Ghebreghiorgis have both stated that they will not be taking any money from corporate PACs and that their campaigns will rely on small donations. The two challengers have both come out against Engel’s foreign policy record, which includes voting for the Iraq War. Other Democratic primary opponents to Engel are Sammy Ravelo, a Gulf War veteran and retired NYPD lieutenant, and Chris Fink, a tax attorney and self-proclaimed municipal power expert.
Congressional District 17
Westchester and Rockland counties
Incumbent: Nita Lowey (D)
2016 presidential results: Clinton +20
2018 Democratic primary results: Lowey 100%
2018 general election results: Nita Lowey (D) 88%, Joe Ciardullo (Reform) 12%
2020 candidates: Catherine Parker (D), Mondaire Jones (D), Adam Schleifer (D), Allison Fine (D), Asha Castleberry (D), David Buchwald (D), Evelyn Farkas (D), David Carlucci (D), Yehudis Gottesfeld (R), Maureen McArdle-Schulman (R) Josh Eisen (I)
Rep. Nita Lowey, a congresswoman since 1989 and current chairwoman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, announced in October she wouldn’t be running for reelection, making this seat one of the hottest – and biggest – races in the state. Among the top contenders are the two Davids: state Sen. David Carlucci, a moderate Democrat who will face criticism for his role as a member of the former breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, and Assemblyman David Buchwald, a self-proclaimed progressive who led the charge to write a state law to access President Donald Trump’s tax returns. Running to their left seems to be Mondaire Jones, the black, gay, Harvard Law grad and first-time candidate who has earned progressive endorsements from the Working Families Party and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. There’s also Adam Schleifer, a prosecutor in the nationally covered Varsity Blues case and son of biotech billionaire Leonard Schleiferwho has far outraised the other candidates, mostly by spending his own money. Other candidates include Allison Fine, former board chairwoman of the NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, Evelyn Farkas, a former foreign policy adviser to the U.S. Department of Defense, Catherine Parker, a Westchester County Legislator, and Asha Castleberry, a foreign policy adviser and major in the Army Reserve.
Two Republicans are also running a primary for the safe blue district: Yehudis Gottesfeld, a former chemical engineer at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and Maureen McArdle-Schulman, a retired FDNY lieutenant endorsed by the Westchester County Republican Party. Fellow Republican Josh Eisen dropped out of the primary race in February after City & State reported on his documented history of harassment and racial slurs, but he now plans to run as an independent.
Congressional District 18
Lower Hudson Valley
Incumbent: Sean Patrick Maloney (D)
2016 presidential results: Trump +2
2018 Democratic primary results: Sean Patrick Maloney 100%
2018 general election results: Sean Patrick Maloney (D) 56%, James O’Donnell (R) 45%
2020 candidates: Maloney (D), Chele Chiavacci Farley (R), Scott Smith (I)
Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney has represented New York’s 18th District since 2013, but Republicans see an opportunity to pick up a district that voted for President Donald Trump in 2016. Enter Chele Chiavacci Farley, a Republican who ran against U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2018. As the New York GOP’s former city finance chairwoman, she’s putting up decent fundraising numbers, bringing in nearly $700,000 through March 31 – but that’s still $1 million less than Maloney has raised this cycle. A newcomer to the district, Farley told City & State in a May 2019 interview that her campaign was focused on reducing energy costs, lowering taxes and updating infrastructure. She also said she appreciated President Donald Trump’s support for her 2018 Senate campaign and will be voting for him in 2020. Scott Smith, a middle school science teacher, has also filed to run as an independent.
Congressional District 19
Upper Hudson Valley and the Catskills
Incumbent: Antonio Delgado (D)
2016 presidential results: Trump +7
2018 Democratic primary results: Delgado 22%, Gareth Rhodes 18%, Pat Ryan 18%, Brian Flynn 13%, Jeff Beals 13%, Dave Clegg 11%, Erin Collier 5%
2018 general election results: Delgado (D) 51%, John Faso (R-incumbent) 46%
2020 candidates: Delgado (D), Kyle Van De Water (R), Ola Hawatmeh (R),Steve Greenfield (G), Victoria Alexander (L)
In the 2018 midterm, Rep. Antonio Delgado unseated the Republican incumbent John Faso in a contentious race that became racially charged. Delgado is a Rhodes scholar and a Harvard Law School graduate who was targeted in the election for his brief career as a rapper. His fundraising prowess and an endorsement from former President Barack Obama helped bring him over the top and flip the seat from red to blue. Democrats are afraid of losing the seat, so Delgado isn’t facing a primary challenge, but he may not have much of a challenge in the general election either, since the GOP failed to find a strong challenger. The two Republicans vying in a primary for the chance to take on Delgado in November are Ola Hawatmeh, a 42-year-old fashion designer, and Kyle Van De Water, an attorney and Army veteran. Green Party candidate Steve Greenfield and LibertarianVictoria Alexander are also running in the general election.
Congressional District 20
Incumbent: Paul Tonko (D)
2016 presidential results: Clinton +13
2018 Democratic primary results: Tonko 100%
2018 general election results: Tonko (D) 67%, Joe Vitollo (R) 34%
2020 candidates: Tonko (D), Elizabeth Joy (R)
Rep. Paul Tonko, currently serving his sixth term, has been in the House since 2009 and handily defeated his 2018 Republican opponent Joe Vitollo in his upstate district. This cycle, Republican Liz Joy will be taking on Tonko in the reliable Democratic district. Joy is a Schenectady resident and a real estate agent who is positioning herself as a hard-line conservative candidate. On her website, she states that she is running on border security, anti-abortion policies, cutting taxes and keeping private health insurance. But she’s at a serious financial disadvantage, having raised just over $140,000 this cycle, compared to Tonko’s more than $900,000.
Congressional District 21
Incumbent: Elise Stefanik (R)
2016 presidential results: Trump +14
2018 Democratic primary results: Tedra Cobb: 56%, Dylan Ratigan 12%, Katie Wilson 12%, Emily Martz 10%, Patrick Nelson 9%, Don Boyajian 1%
2018 general election results: Stefanik (R) 56%, Cobb (D) 42%
2020 candidates: Stefanik (R), Cobb (D)
Rep. Elise Stefanik and Tedra Cobb are looking to rehash 2018. Stefanik is running on her record in Congress, and Cobb is already hitting her for it. Stefanik released an ad shortly after Cobb’s campaign announcement highlighting her failure to win in the midterm and bringing back her nickname for her opponent, “Taxin’ Tedra.” Their rivalry has only kept heating up, with Cobb calling out Stefanik’s campaign donations, while Stefanik tweeted that Cobb is wishy-washy on impeachment and gun control. Now the race has gone national, after Stefanik made national headlines for her ardent defenses of Trump during the impeachment inquiry. Cobb got $1 million in donations in just three days in November, from donors looking to stick it to Trump. Stefanik supporters fired back, adding a quarter million to her already huge haul. Neither is facing a primary, so this big money race is fully focused on November. As of March 31, Stefanik had just over $4 million left in her campaign account, and Cobb had nearly $2.4 million.
Congressional District 22
Central New York
Incumbent: Anthony Brindisi (D)
2016 presidential results: Trump +16
2018 Democratic primary results: Brindisi 100%
2018 general election results: Brindisi (D) 51%, Claudia Tenney (R-incumbent) 49%
2020 candidates: Brindisi (D), Tenney (R), George K. Phillips (R), Keith Price (L)
In the 2018 midterm, Rep. Anthony Brindisi narrowly defeated the one-term Trump diehard Republican incumbentClaudia Tenney. Now Tenney is trying to win the seat back from Brindisi, and it’s likely to be a close race again. Two years ago, Brindisi’s politically moderate positions earned him an endorsement from former Republican Reps. Richard Hanna and Sherwood Boehlert. Brindisi now holds a seat on the House Committee on Agriculture, which he has used to strengthen his position as an advocate for Central New York’s farmers. With Democrats eager to hold on to the seat in 2020, he’s avoided a primary challenge, but Tenney isn’t so lucky. If she wants a rematch with Brindisi, she’ll first have to beat George K. Phillips,a history teacher who has run for Congress three times. LibertarianKeith Price is also running in the general election.
Congressional District 23
Western New York
Incumbent: Tom Reed (R)
2016 presidential results: Trump +15
2018 Democratic primary results: Tracy Mitrano 32%, Max Della Pia 32%, Linda Andrei 15%, Ian Golden 13%, Edward Sundquist 6%
2018 general election results: Reed (R) 54%, Mitrano (D) 46%
2020 candidates: Reed (R), Mitrano (D), David Baker (G)
Republican Rep. Tom Reed hashighlighted his role as one of the leaders of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus that has recently taken on infrastructure as a top priority. And all of the local Republican Party chairmen in the district approve of the work he’s done with the group. Reed is running to secure a sixth and possibly final term. The congressman has been a vocal supporter of term limits in the past. Hoping to stop him is Tracy Mitrano, who is taking another swing at Reed after getting within single digits in 2018 in the solidly red district. Mitrano has picked up endorsements from local party leaders and the National Women’s Political Caucus, and, unlike in 2018, has managed to avoid a primary, but still faces a serious fundraising disadvantage and a district that went strongly for President Donald Trump in 2016. Green Party candidate David Baker is also running in the general election.
Congressional District 24
Central New York
Incumbent: John Katko (R)
2016 presidential results: Clinton +4
2018 Democratic primary results: Dana Balter 62%, Juanita Perez Williams 37%
2018 general election results: Katko (R) 53%, Balter (D) 47%
2020 candidates: Katko (R), Balter (D), Francis Conole (D)
Rep. John Katko officially announced his reelection bid in July, touting pragmatism and thanking his district for the support he’d already received. He has disagreed with Trump in the past, signaling a willingness to break with the president in a district that supported Clinton in 2016, but didn’t go so far as to support the impeachment inquiry against the president. In recent history, the district has flip-flopped between red and blue, and Democrats are hoping 2020 is their shot to turn it blue again.
Syracuse University professor Dana Balter ran a close race against Katko in 2018 and has earned institutional backing from elected officials and national groups like Emily’s List. But if she wants a rematch against Katko, she’ll first have to win a primary against Francis Conole, a defense policy adviser and Navy veteran who has slightly outraised Balter and has the support of a couple county Democratic Party chapters.
Congressional District 25
Incumbent: Joseph Morelle (D)
2016 presidential results: Clinton +16
2018 Democratic primary results: Joseph Morelle 45%, Rachel Barnhart 20%, Robin Wilt 17%, Adam McFadden 17%
2018 general election results: Morelle (D) 59%, Jim Maxwell (R) 41%
2020 candidates: Morelle (D), Wilt (D), George Mitris (R), Kevin Wilson (L)
Rochester and its suburbs are in for a primary rematch, with Brighton town board member Robin Wilt challenging Rep. Joseph Morelle. Wilt came in third in the primary for longtime incumbent Rep. Louise Slaughter’s seat, behind Morelle and Rachel Barnhart. Wilt is running to the left of the moderate Morelle and has earned the endorsement of the Rochester Democratic Socialists of America. But Morelle, a former Assemblyman, easily won the traditionally blue seat two years ago, and seems likely to do so again. Other candidates running in November include George Mitris, a Republican local businessman and attorney, and Kevin Wilson, the chairman of the Monroe County Libertarian Party.
Congressional District 26
Erie and Niagara counties
Incumbent: Brian Higgins (D)
2016 presidential results: Clinton +20
2018 Democratic primary results: Higgins 100%
2018 general election results: Higgins (D) 73%, Renee Zeno (R) 28%
2020 candidates: Higgins (D), Ricky Donovan (R), Mike Raleigh (G)
There’s more than enough electoral drama in Western New York thanks to the neighboring 27th congressional district, but things are pretty simple in 26th district, centered on Buffalo. Veteran Rep. Brian Higgins has never faced a serious electoral challenge in his eight terms representing the safe blue seat. That won’t change this year, as it seems that construction contractor Emin “Eddie” Egriufailed to qualify for the primary. Other candidates who have filed to join the race include Mike Raleigh of the Green Party and Ricky Donovan, a Republican former state Senate and Assembly candidate.
Congressional District 27
Western New York
2016 presidential results: Trump +25
2018 Republican primary results: Chris Collins 100%
2018 general election results: Collins (R) 49.1%, Nate McMurray (D) 48.8%, Other 2%
2020 special election candidates: McMurray (D), Chris Jacobs (R)
2020 general election candidates: McMurray (D), Jacobs (R), Beth Parlato (R), Stefan Mychajliw (R), Duane Whitmer (L), Nicholas Phelps (L), Michael Gammariello (G)
The race for New York’s 27th Congressional District has been completely shaken up following the resignation of former Republican Rep. Chris Collins on Oct. 1, after he pleaded guilty to charges of insider trading. And it was shaken up even further by the coronavirus, which postponed the special election that had been scheduled for April 28. It’s been rescheduled for June 23, when voters enrolled in any party will get to pick who will immediately fill the seat for the remainder of 2020. Some voters will also be voting that same day in a primary to pick their party’s representative in the November general election.
First things first, the special election will feature Republican state Sen. Chris Jacobs and Democrat Nate McMurray, the former Grand Island town supervisor who nearly unseated Collins in 2018. Win or lose in the special election, McMurray will appear on the November ballot for the Democrats and the Working Families Party. But the Republicans have a busy primary, with Jacobs seeing challenges from Beth Parlato, an attorney who earned the state Conservative Party’s endorsement, and Stefan Mychajliw, the Erie County comptroller who has presented himself as a more Trump-friendly alternative to the relatively moderate Jacobs. There will also be a rare Libertarian Party primary between Duane Whitmer and Nicholas Phelps. Finally, Michael Gammariello will be representing the Green Party.
With reporting by Jana Cholakovska, Madeline Lyskawa, Ethan Stark-Miller and Emma Bolton
Correction: A previous version of this story gave the incorrect dates for Adem Bunkeddeko’s first challenge to Yvette Clarke in District 9 and the first year Rep. Gregory Meeks served in Congress.