Whether or not you can call it a “blue wave,” it's a rare moment in Albany when so many incumbent lawmakers are sweating out the upcoming count of absentee ballots.
Three Assembly members in the city and two in Westchester county are trailing after in-person votes were counted on Tuesday night.
Progessive groups say something is definitely changing within the Democratic electorate and moving it to the left.
“It was a really good night," said Sochie Nnaemeka of the Working Families Party. "What we saw from Brooklyn to the Bronx to Ithaca to Rochester was that voters were saying it’s not enough to be a Democrat. You need progessive, bold leadership that’s meeting the causes of the crisis that we are all in.”
In Queens, Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas leads incumbent Michael DenDekker, and Jenifer Rajkumar is ahead of incumbent Mike Miller. Tenant activist Zorhan Mamdani leads against Assemblymember Aravella Simotas.
In Westchester, incumbents Tom Abananti and Steve Otis also trail their opponents.
This could mean that Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has a more difficult conference to manage in Albany, with newcomers who beat elected members whom the speaker had backed financially.
On primary day, Heastie spent the day actively campaigning for Congressman Eliot Engel, who is behind in his race against challenger Jamaal Bowman.
In a statement, a spokesman for Speaker Heastie said, “Each campaign faced very unique circumstances and we were able to score important victories in many races with the outcome of others still undecided. Let's not forget - the issues that were discussed over the past several months in these campaigns were all bills that originated in the Assembly Democratic conference.”
At least three other races are potentially problematic for the speaker. Assemblymen Joe Lentol and Felix Ortiz are holding relatively small leads in their respective races, and incumbent Walter Mosely hopes to hang on against his socialist challenger.
Numerous absentee ballots have yet to be counted in all of these races, but Governor Andrew Cuomo downplayed the notion of an insurgent wave.
“I don’t know," he said. "I haven’t really studied the primaries. There is no doubt there is and energy and an awareness that felt. There is an energy that’s up. I think that’s good. I think after George Floyd’s murder, you are seeing a reaction to that.”
Counting the absentee ballots will be the next battleground in these competitive races. Recounts have often favored the establishment who, with better funds, can often hire the best lawyers, who play a key role in determining which ballots should be counted and which should be disqualified.