Happy Primary Day – a.k.a. some Tuesday in June when almost no one is going to vote.
While Charles Rangel's fight for his Congressional seat is getting plenty of attention by the political media, let's remember that there are four other Congressional primaries going on in the city today.
Nydia Velazquez, Jose Serrano, and Greg Meeks aren't exactly covered in sweat this morning as they face off against little-known and underfunded rivals – but I bet that most of you didn't even realize that these members of Congress faced primary challengers. (I live in Meeks' district and I saw die-hard Democrats argue over the weekend whether the polls would be open today!)
Beyond the Democratic races, there's a Republican primary in Queens for the right to face off against Rep. Steve Israel in November. While most of Israel's district is on Long Island, he also represents a swath of Queens whose residents are likely oblivious there's a GOP race in their neighborhood.
While I don't think it's reasonable to expect that everyone will rush out of their homes tonight and see if Sam Sloan is going to defeat Serrano, it might be a good idea for more people to get involved so that your only two options on Primary Day aren't just a 24-year incumbent and a chess master turned Libertarian political gadfly. But at least those South Bronx voters have some kind of a choice; in eight other Congressional districts that include city neighborhoods, there are no primaries at all.
Beyond increasing voter participation by making sure there's only one primary a year (like I suggested yesterday), we need a way to encourage more qualified people to get involved in politics. While being a public servant has never been associated with running in league with the angels, it's important to remember that there are plenty of elected officials out there who don't actually want to steal everything that's not nailed down in their districts.
The first easy step is to cast your ballot today if you can. You'll hopefully get something better than those lollipops I promised yesterday if we can reverse the trend. If not, don't wonder why no incumbent city Congressman has lost a primary in more than 20 years.
A quick programming note: We'll have live results of the primaries on our election-night ticker after the polls close at 9 p.m. as well as reporters at the party headquarters of Charles Rangel and Adriano Espaillat.