Primaries Thursday for host of state and local offices

Published Sep 10, 2018 at 4:00pm

Democratic voters in Thursday’s primary elections have the highest-profile offices in New York on their ballots, but Republicans and voters in smaller parties have choices, too, including some open seats representing parts of Oneida County in the state Legislature.

The elections are being held on a Thursday instead of a Tuesday so they do not conflict with Sept. 11 memorial events or the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah.

At the top of their ballot, Democrats will choose between two-term incumbent Andrew Cuomo and challenger actress Cynthia Nixon.

There is also a primary for lieutenant governor, between two-term incumbent Kathy Hochul, a former Buffalo-area member of Congress, and Jumaane Williams, a New York City Council member from Brooklyn. The race is separate from the election for governor in the primary but party nominees run together as a ticket in the Nov. 6 general election.

Hochul is a two-term incumbent, but in a Sienna College poll conducted in late July with a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points, Hochul led Williams only 30 to 21 percent, though half those polled were undecided.

Democrats must also choose a candidate for attorney general. The candidates are New York City Public Advocate Letitia James; Hudson Valley Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney; law professor Zephyr Teachout, who challenged Cuomo for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2014; and Leecia Eve, a former Verizon executive, U.S. Senate staff member, and economic advisor to Cuomo.

Incumbent Barbara Underwood, appointed after Eric Schneiderman resigned this year under allegations of sexual misconduct, is not running.

Republicans have no primary for governor or other top state executives. The GOP candidate for governor is Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro.

Democratic incumbent state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has no primary. He faces Manhattan investment banker Jonathan Trichter, who had been a Democrat until his nomination by state Republicans in May.

The Reform Party has a primary for attorney general. The party is a successor to a ballot line created in 2014 for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino and got the 50,000 votes gubernatorial required to be recognized as a party on the general-election ballot without petitioning this year. It doesn’t have its own governor nominee, however, instead listing Republican Marinaro as its candidate. Running under its primary ballot for attorney general are Nancy B. Sliwa, Mike Diederich and Christopher B. Garvey.

Normally, New York primaries are closed to anyone not registered in the relevant party, but the Reform Party, with only 1,822 members state wide as of April 1, is allowing anyone not registered in another to vote in its single contest.

The party advocates for several good-government reforms, primarily regarding easing ballot-access rules for parties and candidates, and for measures such as initiative and referendum, proportional voting, instant runoff and public vouchers usable for campaign donations.

“As long as you’re not registered in another political party the reform party is allowing them to vote in their primary,” said Michael Galimo, Democratic commissioner of the Oneida County Board of Elections.

Here is a rundown of other state and local races Thursday:

State Senate District 53

The district includes the City of Oneida, Kirkland, Augusta, all of Madison County, much of Syracuse and eastern Onondaga County.

Democrat Incumbent David Valesky faces Rachel May.

Valesky was in the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of four Democratic senators who in 2012 made a political deal with Senate Republicans that largely gave control of the chamber to the GOP until this spring when the group announced a deal to again side with Senate Democrats. Valesky is an Oneida native who was first elected to the seat in 2004 and is ranking member of the Agriculture Committee. He previously worked as public-TV host and communications director and an aide to a state assembly.

May is a former high school teacher who lives in Syracuse and is coordinator of sustainability education at Syracuse University. She was endorsed by Oneida County Democratic Committee, according to her campaign website.

Valesky is also on the line of the Women’s Equality Party.

Assembly District 118

The district includes Lee, Western, Steuben, Trenton, Deerfield, Boonville; all of Herkimer, Fulton and Hamilton counties; and part of St. Lawrence County.

Twenty-three-year Republican incumbent Marc Butler is not seeking re-election. The primary candidates are Robert J. Smullen, a retired Marine colonel from Johnstown and former leader of a Hudson River flood-control district, and Patrick Vincent, who runs a Poland heating and fuel company and has been mayor and trustee in Cold Brook. Vincent ran for the nomination in 2016 against Butler. Smullen and Vincent are also on the Conservative Party primary ballot in the 118th.

There is no Democratic primary; Keith Rubino is running as a Democrat and on the Working Families line.

Assembly District 119

City of Rome, Utica, Floyd, Marcy, Whitestown; Frankfort in Herkimer County.

Incumbent Democrat Anthony Brindisi is not seeking re-election while he runs for Congress.

In the Republican primary, the candidates are Dennis B. Bova Jr., a North Utica surgical technician with multiple sub-specialty certifications, and Frederick L. Nicholas, a Utica College business administration graduate student who has run for Utica Common Council. Bova also has the Conservative and Reform lines.

No Democratic primary is planned. Marianne Buttonschon is alone on the Democratic line.

Assembly District 121

All of Madison County; Sherrill, Vernon, Augusta, Marshall, Sangerfield, Bridgewater; most of Otsego County including Oneonta.

Among Democrats, 28-year-incumbent William Magee of Nelson, who owns an an auction company and is chairman of the chamber Agriculture Committee, is challenged by Dan Butterman, an insurance adjuster from Oneonta who is on that city’s school board and formerly on the town planning board and active in civic organizations. There is no Republican primary; John J. Salka is the Republican, Conservative and Reform candidate. Magee beat Salta 52-48 percent in 2016.

There is also a primary for  the Independence Party line for Whitestown town justice between between Aaron Cirasuolo and Troy D. Little.

In New Hartford, there is a write-in primary for the Republican nomination for the second ward on the town board.

Where to vote

To find where to vote and who your elected officials are, see https://voterlookup.elections.ny.gov/votersearch.aspx.

Absentee ballots may be obtained in person at the Oneida County Board of Elections until the close of business Wednesday, the day before the election.

Oneida County registration as of April 1: Republican 50,739; Democrat 46,063; No party 26,485; Independence 8,152; Conservative 2,138; Working Families 529; Green 323; Women’s Equality 54; Reform 23 (Total, active plus inactive. Source: New York State Board of Elections)