Democratic primary opponents

Your Primary Day Primer

By David Brand @D4V1DBR4ND

It’s Congressional Primary Day in New York State and residents from three Queens districts face tough choices when they visit the voting booths today. When the polls close at 9 pm, the dust will finally settle on prominent races drawing national attention.

Democrats comprise Queens’ entire congressional delegation, but that doesn’t mean the party is unified. In fact, many pundits and grassroots activists consider the race between District 14 Rep. Joe Crowley and progressive challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a referendum on the direction of a split party.

Both Crowley and Ocasio-Cortez agree on their disdain for Donald Trump and his policies so the real contest today pits the mainstream, establishment Democrats against the party’s leftist wing, represented in large part by young women and people of color who reject corporate campaign contributions, advocate for Medicare for All and call for the abolition of the Immigration and Customs and Enforcement agency. To add to the intrigue, reports indicate that Crowley hopes to run for House Speaker if Democrats reclaim the lower chamber.

Elsewhere in Queens, District 12 Rep. Carolyn Maloney, another establishment Democrat, faces off against Suraj Patel, a young hotel executive who hopes to become the state’s first South Asian member of Congress. And District 5 Rep. Gregory Meeks looks to fend off Mizan Choudhury and Carl Achille.

Democratic incumbents Rep. Nydia Velazquez, Rep. Grace Meng and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries have a smooth path to reelection with no primary challengers or Republican rivals running in November. Rep. Tom Suozzi encounters no primary challengers but will take on Dan DeBono in a general election informed by attitudes toward Donald Trump in Northeast Queens in Western Long Island.

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DISTRICT 14

All Neighborhood data from the 2016 US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey

Incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley, the influential chief of the Queens County Democratic Party, faces off against progressive challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a former Bernie Sanders campaign organizer from the Bronx whose insurgent candidacy has generated grassroots support nationwide and earned her an endorsement from New York City’s branch of the Democratic Socialists of America. Ocasio-Cortez is the first primary opponent to challenge Crowley in 14 years.

According to various reports, Crowley is angling to become House Speaker if the Democrats regain the House in November. Pundits consider the race a contest between mainstream Democrats, embodied by Crowley, and progressive socialists, embodied by Ocasio-Cortez.

Anthony Pappas, a St. John’s economics and finance professor, runs unopposed on the Republican side. Pappas advocates for lower personal taxes but favors a higher corporate tax rate.

QUEENS NEIGHBORHOODS

Parts of Astoria, College Point, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Woodside

DISTRICT CHARACTER

2016 Population: 691,715

Percent Immigrants: 45.8%

Percent People of Color: 70%

Median household income: $53,512

Percent Under the Federal Poverty Line: 15.2%

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DISTRICT 12

In another primary contest between an establishment Democratic and a young insurgent challenger, incumbent Carolyn Maloney faces off against Suraj Patel, a hospitality industry executive whose family own dozens of hotels across the US. Maloney has served in Congress since 1993. For ten years before that, she represented a portion of the Upper East Side in the City Council. Patel would be the first person of South Asian descent to represent New York in Congress. Though he will not appear on the ballot today, community activist Sander Hicks is also running as independent progressive.

Elliot Rabin, who owns an upscale boutique clothing store on the Upper East Side, runs unopposed on the Republican side. Rabin is a moderate Republican who advocates for gun control.

QUEENS NEIGHBORHOODS

Parts of Astoria, Long Island City and Woodside

DISTRICT CHARACTER

2016 Population: 715,471

Percent Immigrants: 26%

Percent People of Color: 40.5%

Median household income: $100,281

Percent Under the Federal Poverty Line: 9.9%

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DISTRICT 8

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries has represented the district since 2017. Before his election to Congress, Jeffries served in the State Assembly. He runs unopposed in the Democratic primary. No Republicans are running in the district

QUEENS NEIGHBORHOODS

Parts of Ozone Park and Howard Beach

2016 Population: 771,711

Percent Immigrants: 33%

Percent People of Color: 80%

Median household income: $51,634

Percent Under the Federal Poverty Line: 20.8%

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DISTRICT 7

Rep. Nydia Velazquez runs unopposed in District 7, which covers chunks of Brooklyn and Queens. Velazquez has served in Congress since 1993. There are no Republicans running.

QUEENS NEIGHBORHOODS

Parts of Maspeth, Ridgewood and Woodside

DISTRICT CHARACTER

2016 Population: 763,468

Percent Immigrants: 59.4%

Percent People of Color: 73.8%

Median Household Income: $55,207

Percent Under the Federal Poverty Line: 23.6%

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DISTRICT 6

Incumbent Rep. Grace Meng runs unopposed in the Democratic Primary. She was first elected to Congress in 2012 and won re-election in 2016 with 72.1% of the vote. There are no Republicans running.

NEIGHBORHOODS

Parts of Glendale, Ridgewood, Middle Village, Flushing, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Bayside, Elmhurst, Rego Park and Auburndale

DISTRICT CHARACTER

2016 Population: 715,471

Percent Immigrants: 26%

Percent People of Color: 40.5%

Median household income: $100,281

Percent Under the Federal Poverty Line: 9.9%

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DISTRICT 5

Incumbent Rep. Gregory Meeks faces off against Mizan Choudhury, a technology manager for Northwell Health who immigrated to the US from Bangladesh in 1997, and Carl Achille, an Iraq War veteran, former police officer and former Vice President of the Elmont Chamber of Commerce. Meeks was first elected to Congress in 1998.

On the Republican side, Michael O’Reilly runs unopposed. O’Reilly ran for the Congress in 2016 but lost to Meeks.

NEIGHBORHOODS

Rockaway Peninsula, Broad Channel, Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, Laurelton, Queens Village, Rosedale, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, and South Ozone Park, John F. Kennedy International Airport

DISTRICT CHARACTER

2016 Population: 794,154

Percent Immigrants: 42%

Percent People of Color: 84%

Median household income: $66,529

Percent Under the Federal Poverty Line: 12.4%

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DISTRICT 3

Incumbent Tom Suozzi has represented the district, which mostly covers Nassau County, since 2017. Northport investment banker Dan DeBono runs unopposed on the Republican ticket. In 2016, Suozzi received 53% of the vote to defeat Republican challenger Jack Martins.

QUEENS NEIGHBORHOODS

Little Neck, Whitestone, Glen Oaks, and Floral Park

DISTRICT CHARACTER

2016 Population: 732,591

Percent Immigrants: 22.5%

Percent People of Color: 31.5%

Median household income: $111,504

Percent Under the Federal Poverty Line: 5.2%

Photo Credit: Crowley — House.gov; Ocasio-Cortez — Jesse Korman

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