Voters in five states cast primary ballots today, deciding the political future of longtime Members such as Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) and 21-term Rep. Charlie Rangel (D).
While Hatch is expected to safely cruise to the GOP nomination in Utah, all eyes will be fixed on northern Manhattan, where Rangel’s fate is much less certain.
The longtime Harlem icon faces the toughest election of his long career. Since his last election, he has been bludgeoned by a Congressional censure over ethics violations, health woes, a newly configured district that is less favorable to him and an ambitious and credible challenger in state Sen. Adriano Espaillat (D). Whether Rangel survives today is anyone’s guess, but any margin of victory in a crowded field is expected to be small.
For the first time in recent memory, New York is holding its Congressional primary in June instead of September. Low turnout is expected statewide, leaving open the possibility of some surprising outcomes tonight in a handful of races worth watching.
Also on the ballot in New York today is the GOP Senate primary between Rep. Bob Turner, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos and attorney Wendy Long. But it doesn’t matter who the winner is — he will be the heavy underdog against popular Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) in November.
The other states besides Utah and New York holding primaries today are Colorado and Oklahoma, while South Carolina is holding a runoff in the state’s new Congressional district.
State Assemblywoman Grace Meng is expected to win the Democratic primary in this open seat, but state Assemblyman Rory Lancman could surprise. Meng has support from powerful Queens County Democratic Party Chairman Rep. Joe Crowley and other influential elected officials. EMILY’s List has also gotten involved in the race, putting more than $100,000 behind Meng. New York City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who is Rep. Crowley’s cousin, may come in second, but no insiders expect her to win. Lancman has the backing of some unions, which could boost his supporters’ turnout, but Rep. Crowley’s borough machine is expected to help encourage turnout in Meng’s favor. And it’s not just the candidates who have something on the line today: Crowley will take a hit if Meng loses and will see his power consolidated if she wins, insiders said. The winner of the primary is expected to win in November.