Midterm Election Races To Watch

A chaotic election cycle — with two summer primaries instead of one — will come to a close on November 8. Do you know who you’re voting for?

| 21 Oct 2022 | 02:59

After a long summer with not one, but two primary elections, the November 8 midterm election is now around the corner.

There are big-ticket races to be voted on by all New Yorkers, like that for governor — a face-off between incumbent Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul and Republican U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, that’s only heated up as the date draws nearer. There are races for comptroller, attorney general and the U.S. Senate.

And then, in the city, there’s the opportunity to vote on four new ballot measures — no political parties or candidate names involved. Proposal 1, the statewide “Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022,” would reap over $4 billion for environmental ends. “It is very much an investment in our future,” said Carter Strickland, New York State director for the Trust for Public Land, during a virtual town hall hosted by NYS Senator Liz Krueger.

The second proposal to appear on the ballot asks voters to decide whether to “add a statement of values to guide government.” “Right now, New York City does not have a preamble — an introductory statement, a statement of values,” said Harold Miller, executive director of the Racial Justice Commission. “This statement of values talks about a city that we aspire toward, a just and equitable city for all New Yorkers.”

The third proposal, if passed, would mandate the creation of a “Racial Equity Office” and other related measures, while the fourth calls for the city to adopt a new calculation to determine the “true cost of living.”

In Manhattan, a number of closely-followed local races will draw to a close in voters’ own backyards.

The Names On (And Off) The Ballot For Congress

What started as a hotly-contested battle between U.S. Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney — both House committee chairs and longtime New York representatives — has become a far more straightforward race in the aftermath of Nadler’s sweeping Democratic primary win.

“I know that the voters will return me to Congress this November with a mandate to fight for the causes so many of us know to be right,” he said in a statement. Protecting abortion rights and “marriage equality” is on his list, after the overturn of Roe v. Wade appeared to jeopardize both.

Still, there are others on the ballot, including Republican Michael Zumbluskas, an Army veteran. His platform includes increasing manufacturing in the U.S.; restricting the movement of “illegal” immigrants and of drugs — which he framed as linked — into the country; and reducing government spending. He also hopes to bridge the divide between Democrats and Republicans, but isn’t overly optimistic about his odds in the new district. “It is an uphill battle,” he told Our Town.

Also throwing his hat in the ring is Independent Mikhail “Mike” Itkis, who made headlines in mid-October for releasing a sex tape online, as reported by City & State New York. “The video was the most effective means to bring awareness to the campaign, the sex positive agenda,” he told Our Town, “and to highlight my background and qualifications.”

He framed himself as “much more supportive of free speech and much less tolerant of political correctness, cancel culture and identity politics” than Nadler, with priorities including protecting security and privacy online, legalizing sex work and crystalizing the country’s stance in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

One person not on the ballot — but hoping to be — is Phillip Weiss, who launched a write-in campaign after the summer primary. A resident of Manhattan’s Kips Bay neighborhood, which he says has devolved “into a skid row,” Weiss bills himself as “pro-low taxes” and “pro-law and order.” “I believe that ALL LIVES MATTER and that without law and order there can be no social justice,” he told Our Town in a written statement.

As for how he sees his competition? “I am not discombobulated and [if] elected to Congress, will stay full alert,” Weiss said, drawing a comparison between himself and Nadler. He said he had not heard of his other opponents.

NYS Assembly Hopefuls

In two NYS Assembly districts spanning Midtown through to the Upper East and Upper West Sides, there are no incumbents running for reelection — only hungry hopefuls.

In District 75, which runs from Chelsea to Lincoln Square, Democratic primary winner Tony Simone is squaring off against Joseph Maffia, a Republican. Simone told Our Town he’s a champion of affordable housing and wants to strengthen public safety, in part by tackling a “mental health crisis” that he sees unfolding on the district’s streets, by advocating for more long-term psychiatric beds.

“After winning the primary, our campaign has only grown in support,” he said. “This district believes that climate change is real, abortion rights must be protected and our LGBTQ rights must move forward. These are truths the Republican party stands firmly against.”

Maffia, whose campaign includes a tongue-in-cheek plea to constituents to “vote for Joe Maffia ... or else,” told Our Town he intends to increase both stop-and-frisk policing and affordable housing in an effort to stymie crime. He’s a proponent of “drug and gun-free zones” surrounding homeless shelters, cutting taxes and supporting cultural institutions in the district as a candidate also running on the “Arts & Culture” line, which he created.

“When I mentioned the ‘R’ word” on the campaign trail, he told Our Town, “a few choice words were hurled my way. But the majority were willing to engage, carry on a conversation, listen to my ideas.”

In the abutting turf of District 73, stretching from Murray Hill to Carnegie Hill, Democratic primary winner Alex Bores seems to have struck up a natural connection with voters. “My neighbors are enthusiastic about our vision for safer streets, effective government, and climate change,” said Bores, a Democratic District Leader and engineer. “They know that I have a track record of making government work.” He’s up against Republican David Casavis, an author who could not be reached for comment.

A NYS Senate Reelection Campaign, With New Lines

Of NYS Senate races, Chelsea Senator Brad Hoylman’s reelection campaign has been an unusual one — in a newly-drawn district with an entirely unfamiliar number. He won the Democratic primary by a landslide in District 47, which now spans from the West Village to Bloomingdale, with over 70% of the vote against Maria Danzilo, a lawyer.

“The voters in this district are among the most progressive and thoughtful in the state,” he told Our Town. “I think we’re a good match!” He’s passed over 100 bills in the state Senate, including legislation this year “to help reduce tourist choppers over Manhattan, give adult survivors of sexual abuse access to justice, crack down on illegal guns, and investigate phony abortion clinics.”

Danzilo, despite her primary loss, remains in the race as an Independent, now on the “Parent Party” line in the midterm election. Her platform calls for amending bail laws and granting judges more power to prevent recidivism, plus a new tax structure to “lift our economy and stop the exodus [of New Yorkers] to other states.”

“My commitment and passion for restoring the city comes through to voters,” she told Our Town, acknowledging that her run as an Independent hasn’t been easy. Robert Bobrick, a first-time political candidate, is also in the mix on the “Medical Freedom Party” line, with a platform that revolves around bodily autonomy.

“The voters in this district are among the most progressive and thoughtful in the state.” NYS Senator Brad Hoylman