Democrats across much of New York City – and Republicans in a small patch of Staten Island and Brooklyn – will soon get the chance to pick their party’s candidate for New York State Senate.
Thanks to the state’s redistricting debacle, New York’s state Senate and congressional primaries will be held Aug. 23rd. To some voters, that may be a surprise – the state held a separate primary for statewide and Assembly races less than two months ago.
“A lot of people are confused about the multiple primaries – I cannot lie about that, and we realize that,” said Candis Tall, vice president and political director for 32BJ SEIU, a powerful labor union that has been active on the Senate campaign trail. “But that's why it's super important for us to talk to our members, especially, early and continuously. We're talking to them as much as we can to remind them that there is a second primary coming.”
The congressional races have dominated the headlines. But there are also 12 Democratic Senate primaries across the five boroughs, including a high-profile race in the Bronx where incumbent state Sen. Gustavo Rivera faces a party-backed challenge from attorney Miguelina Camilo.
Republicans won’t be nearly as busy. The GOP has only one Senate primary, with Sergey Fedorov and Joseph Tirone Jr. squaring off in a district that combines Coney Island with the North Shore of Staten Island.
A summary of each of the races can be found below to get you up to speed ahead of early voting, which begins Saturday.
Senate Voter Guide, NYC Edition
Queens, including Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Rego Park, Woodhaven and part of Forest Hills
What to know: State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, who currently lives in Howard Beach, saw his current district carved up in the new Senate map. He chose to run in the 15th, which doesn’t include his current home and shifts him away from Rockaway and further into central Queens. (He told The New York Times he would likely move in with his mother, who lives in the new district.)
Addabbo was first elected in 2008, and chairs the Senate Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee. He helped usher through a bill earlier this week that sped up the siting process for New York City casinos – including, if they are successful in bidding, the Resorts World Casino New York City at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens.
He’s facing a challenge from Japneet Singh, a former taxi driver endorsed by New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. If successful, it is believed Singh would be the first Sikh member of the state Senate.
The third candidate is Albert Baldeo. If you’re thinking that name sounds familiar, it may be because he was also on the ballot for the June primary, too. Twice, actually – he won a district leader position, but lost a primary to Assemblyman David Weprin. (Baldeo, a frequent candidate, was also convicted of obstruction of justice in 2014 in connection to a prior New York City Council run.)
Brooklyn, including Flatbush, Flatlands and Mill Basin
What to know: Sen. Kevin Parker, a long-tenured Senate Democrat, was first sworn into office in 2003. He saw his current central Brooklyn district carved up in redistricting, leading him to pick the 21st District, which includes his home neighborhood of Flatbush as well as a wide swath of the borough he hadn’t represented before, including Flatlands.
Parker is the chair of the Senate Energy Committee. He successfully pushed a temporary moratorium on certain cryptocurrency mining – which uses large amounts of power – through the Senate this year, though Gov. Kathy Hochul hasn’t signaled whether she will sign it.
David Alexis is a democratic socialist backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He’s running to Parker’s left, making universal health care and higher taxes on wealthy New Yorkers central to his campaign.
Kaegan Marie Mays-Williams is an attorney and former assistant Manhattan district attorney who now works for Everytown for Gun Safety, the pro-gun control group backed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The race has gotten the attention of a super PAC that’s thrown financial support to Parker.
Brooklyn, including Coney Island and Staten Island’s North Shore, including St. George
Party: Democrat and Republican
What to know: This district was left open by the pending retirement of Sen. Diane Savino, the Staten Island stalwart first elected in 2004. And it’s the only Senate district in the city with both Republican and Democratic primaries this year.
On the Democratic side, Jessica Scarcella-Spanton previously worked for the MTA and as a state legislative aide, and once served as Savino’s campaign manager. She has most of the institutional support, picking up endorsements from Savino, Councilmember Kamillah Hanks and a wide array of labor unions.
Sarah Blas has the backing of the left-leaning Working Families Party and a number of other progressive-leaning groups. Bianca Rajpersaud is a lobbyist from Staten Island who serves as a Democratic district leader and president of the North Shore Democratic Club. And Ravij Gowda is a civil engineer and former labor leader.
Republicans have two candidates to choose from: Sergey Fedorov, who Republican and Conservative party leaders backed in March before the latest redistricting shuffle, and Joseph Tirone Jr., a Staten Island real-estate broker.
Brooklyn, including Bed-Stuy, Clinton Hill, Brownsville and the Brooklyn Navy Yard
What to know: Sen. Jabari Brisport, a democratic socialist, is seeking re-election for the first time after he was elected in 2020. He quickly established himself as a voice of the progressive movement in Albany, pushing issues like so-called good cause eviction, which would limit annual rent increases and prevent landlords from evicting tenants without a bona fide reason.
Conrad Tillard is a pastor and activist who has been critical of Brisport’s support of socialism.
Renee Holmes is on the ballot but hasn’t filed any campaign fundraising or spending records with the state Board of Elections to this point.
Brooklyn, stretching from Gowanus to Dumbo and Governors Island in Manhattan
What to know: Sen. Andrew Gounardes, first elected in 2018, is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. Gounardes is an ally of Mayor Eric Adams, whom Gounardes once worked for, and successfully passed a bill to extend New York City’s school-zone speed cameras and expand their hours.
David Yassky represented downtown Brooklyn in the Council from 2002 to 2009. He is also former chair of the city Taxi and Limousine Commission under then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Lower Manhattan, including Wall Street, Chinatown, Tribeca, SoHo and NoHo
What to know: Sen. Brian Kavanagh has represented Manhattan in Albany since 2007, first for a decade in the Assembly before he was elected to the Senate in 2017. He chairs the chamber’s housing committee – and avoided a primary challenge from Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou amid the redistricting mess when Niou decided to run for Congress instead.
Danyela Souza Egorov is a parent advocate and an adviser for the New York City Charter Schools Association, according to her online resume. Vittoria Fariello is an attorney and Democratic district leader.
Manhattan, including Harlem and Sugar Hill
What to know: Sen. Cordell Cleare of Harlem was elected to the Senate in a 2021 special election after she won the backing of the Manhattan Democratic Committee. She succeeded Brian Benjamin, who went on to a short stint as lieutenant governor before he was arrested on bribery charges.
Prior to her election, Cleare was an education activist and former chief of staff to then-Sen. Bill Perkins.
Her challenger is Shana Harmongoff, who ran against Cleare on a third-party line in the special election last year. Harmongoff was Benjamin’s district office director and community affairs director.
Manhattan, including Washington Heights and Inwood and the Bronx, including Kingsbridge and University Heights
What to Know: Sen. Robert Jackson, first elected in 2018, is seeking a third two-year term in office. An education activist and former councilmember, Jackson chairs the Senate Civil Service and Pensions Committee.
Vasquez is a former teacher and union official who has the backing of Rep. Adriano Espaillat, the Democratic congressman who hasn’t been shy about throwing his weight behind Hispanic challengers.
Ruben Dario Vargas and Francesca Castellanos are perennial candidates, with Castellanos previously running for the Council and once for state Assembly and Vargas coming up short in multiple runs for the Senate and Assembly.
The Bronx, including Riverdale, Fieldston, Spuyten Duyvil and Van Nest
What to know: This is another race that was turned on its head by the redistricting process.
Sen. Gustavo Rivera has represented the Bronx in the Senate since 2011, chairing the powerful health committee and sponsoring the New York Health Act, a single-payer health insurance bill.
In February, Miguelina Camilo – president of the Bronx Women’s Bar Association and former vice chair of the Bronx Democrats – launched a bid for a Bronx/Westchester seat being vacated by Sen. Alessandra Biaggi. But when the special master finalized the congressional district lines in May following a court ruling, the Bronx’s districts were significantly reshuffled.
Camilo decided to run in the new 33rd District (where she lives), and so did Rivera, who lives just two blocks outside the district but chose to run there instead of challenging fellow incumbent Sen. Robert Jackson.
The Bronx, including Pelham Bay, Parkchester and Castle Hill. The district also crosses into Westchester County, picking up Pelham and part of New Rochelle
What to know: The redistricting shuffle left no incumbent senator to run for the new 34th District, clearing the way for Assemblymember Nathalia Fernandez to seek the seat.
Fernandez, first elected to the Assembly in 2018, has the backing of the Bronx Democratic Party. She’s facing a primary challenge from Christian Amato, a former staffer to Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, and John Perez, who has previously run for the City Council, Senate, and Assembly.
West Side of Manhattan, including Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea and Hudson Yards
What to know: The chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Brad Hoylman has represented a Midtown district since 2013 and has passed a number of significant bills, including the Child Victims Act and the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which prohibited discrimination based on gender identity. But the district he’s running in now has shifted significantly, now stretching up the West Side.
His primary challenger is Maria Danzilo, an attorney who supports giving judges more discretion to hold defendants on bail, enacting term limits, and lowering taxes.
Manhattan, including Gramercy Park and part of Murray Hill; Brooklyn, including Greenpoint and McCarren Park; and Queens, including Astoria and Long Island City
What to know: This is a wide open race with no incumbent running.
Elizabeth Crowley is a former City Council member who represented Queens. She has endorsements from a bevy of labor unions as well as the mayor.
Crowley has competition on her left from Kristen Gonzalez, a democratic socialist endorsed by Ocasio-Cortez (who defeated Rep. Joe Crowley, Elizabeth’s cousin, on her way to Congress).
Also in the race is Michael Corbett, a vice chair of the state Democratic Committee. Two other candidates qualified for the ballot but have since dropped out of the race: Francoise Olivas, who endorsed Crowley, and Nomiki Konst, who endorsed Gonzalez.
*Konst and Olivas are no longer running but will still appear on the ballot.
This story has been updated with additional information.