Some state races called as BOE continues absentee counts
by Benjamin Fang
Jul 22, 2020 | 5066 views | 0 0 comments | 323 323 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As the Board of Elections continues to count hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots for the city’s primary elections, several Assembly races have already been decided.

In the 34th Assembly District spanning Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst and Woodside, challenger Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas has officially unseated six-term Assemblyman Michael DenDekker.

Though the results have not yet been certified by the Board of Elections, Gonzalez-Rojas maintained a lead over DenDekker and three other candidates, Nuala O’Doherty-Naranjo, Joy Chowdhury and Angel Cruz, after mail-in ballots were counted.

On primary night, Gonzalez-Rojas, former executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, was leading with roughly 40 percent of the vote.

“This victory is the culmination and sum total of a broad and diverse coalition that set out to build a grassroots campaign on people-powered solutions to the challenges facing our communities,” she said in a statement.

On Friday, DenDekker, who received 23 percent of the vote, conceded the race to Gonzalez-Rojas.

“I wish you all the best as you represent our community in Albany!” he wrote on Twitter.

In the 38th Assembly District, which covers parts of Glendale, Ridgewood, Woodhaven, Ozone Park and Richmond Hill, challenger Jenifer Rajkumar appears to have toppled incumbent Assemblyman Michael Miller.

Last Thursday, Rajkumar posted on Twitter that she “won nearly triple the number of absentee ballots,” which widened her already sizable lead. On the day of the primary, the lawyer, adjunct professor and former Cuomo administration official captured more than 52 percent of the vote.

Miller only received 26 percent, while a third challenger, queer poet, educator and activist Joey De Jesus, received 22 percent.

In District 31, which runs from South Ozone Park down to Far Rockaway, 24-year-old Khaleel Anderson, a local activist and Community Board 14 member, declared victory in a seven-way race.

On the night of the primary, he was leading with 38 percent of the vote, surpassing second-place finisher Richard David, a district leader, who got 28 percent.

Anderson, who was backed by the influential Working Families Party, said in a statement that the “establishment never thought a 24-year-old Black progressive” could win the district, but his campaign proved them wrong.

“I have been on the ground fighting for my neighbors since I was a kid, from leading the charge on extending the Q52 line to building community gardens as a founder of the Rockaway Youth Task Force,” he said. “It will be the honor of my life to continue the fight in Albany.”

David wrote on Twitter last week that as the absentee vote count came to an end, he was in a “solid” second place, short by a little over 700 votes.

“We did not secure enough votes to overcome the setback on Election Day,” he wrote. “I’m proud of our campaign and our volunteers.”

In Brooklyn’s 51st District, which includes Sunset Park, Red Hook and a sliver of Bay Ridge, housing organizer and democratic socialist Marcela Mitaynes came back from a deficit on primary night to defeat 26-year incumbent Assemblyman Felix Ortiz.

In a statement posted to his Facebook page last Thursday night, Ortiz, the assistant speaker of the Assembly, conceded and congratulated Mitaynes.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the people of my community in the New York State Assembly for 26 years,” he wrote. “I’m proud of my record and the accomplishments we’ve achieved together for our community and our state.”

That same night, Mitaynes wrote on Twitter that she never would have thought that an “indigenous Peruvian working-class immigrant” would have been able to win this election.

“I’m honored and humbled by the support of every volunteer and vote,” she said. “Together, we’ll continue to organize and build power for the working class.”

As of press time, several races were awaiting the conclusion of the absentee ballot count, including the race in Assembly District 36, where incumbent Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas is trailing housing counselor and Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) member Zohran Kwame Mamdani, 54 to 46 percent.

Perhaps the closest race is for the 12th Congressional District, where Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney maintained a small 648-vote lead over second-time challenger Suraj Patel after primary night.

All four candidates in the race, including first-time candidates Lauren Ashcraft and Peter Harrison, have raised the issue of invalidation rates. According to reports, 20 percent of absentee ballots in the race were invalidated in the race, including 28 percent in the north Brooklyn part of the district.

In a statement, the candidates from the 12th congressional district said an issue with postage resulted in many absentee ballots arriving without postmarks, which invalidated them. They asked the BOE to agree to count all ballots received without a postmark.

“A missing postmark, over which voters had no control, should not disenfranchise those voters,” the statement read. “We stand together in asking Governor Cuomo to update his executive order to permit the Board of Elections to accept all absentee ballots received without a postmark.”
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