State lawmakers eyeing an exit see mixed results on Primary Day

Legislative Gazette file photo
Democratic Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. seems poised to take a City Council seat after staving off a field of four challengers, besting his nearest competitor, Amanda Farias, by a two-to-one margin.

As the dust settles on primary day 2017, some of the state legislators with an eye on a job outside the state Capitol are a step closer to knowing their political futures.

Eight state lawmakers were involved in primary races on Tuesday that, should they win in November, will likely see them vacate their seats as state legislators.

Six Democrats — two from the Senate and four from the Assembly — and a Republican from each chamber were involved in primaries Tuesday. Based on initial reports, here is how they fared.

Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, D-East Harlem

Rodriguez fell short in his bid to replace the term-limited City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. The race served as a sort of proxy war between Gov. Andrew Cuomo who endorsed Assemblyman Rodriguez’ bid and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who endorsed Diana Ayala. Tensions have been on the rise between the two recently as Gov. Cuomo has refused, as of yet, to endorse de Blasio for this November’s city mayoral race. Ayala’s win was a narrow one, taking 43.7 percent of the vote to Rodriguez’s 42.3 percent.

Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. D-Bronx

Democratic Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. staved off a field of four challengers, besting his nearest competitor, Amanda Farias, by a two-to-one margin. Originally elected in 2002, Diaz is a moderate Democrat who stood alone as the only Democrat in opposition to the 2011 Marriage Equality Act in the state Senate.

Assemblyman Francisco Moya, D-Queens

Moya was victorious in one of the more interesting races on Primary Day. Moya found himself toe to toe with former Senator Hiram Monserrate who was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend in 2009 before being found guilty of felony fraud in 2012 during a previous stint as a city councilman. Moya come out the winner by a margin of 55.6 percent to 44.4 percent for Monserrate, derailing the latter’s hopes of a political comeback.

Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, D-Bronx

Assemblyman Gjonaj overcame a wave of bad press earlier this week to fend off his challenger Marjorie Velazquez with 38.7 percent of the vote to her 34.4 percent. Gjonaj made headlines when it was revealed that he received contributions from two men indicted in Brooklyn federal court for money laundering in relation to drug and weapons smuggling.

Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, D-Brooklyn

Assistant Speaker of the New York State Assembly Felix Ortiz failed in his bid for a city council seat in Brooklyn, losing to Carlos Menchaca 48.6 percent to Ortiz’ 32.9 percent.

Senator Phil Boyle, R-Suffolk

Sen. Phil Boyle

In an upset, Sen. Phil Boyle lost his race for the Suffolk County Sheriff GOP nomination. Originally elected to the Assembly in 1994 before becoming a senator in 2012, Boyle’s name recognition was not enough to hold off underdog candidate Larry Zacarese, assistant chief of Stony Brook University Police. Zacarese walked off with 55.9 percent of the vote to Boyle’s 43.5 percent.

Senator George Latimer, D-Westchester

Sen. Latimer emerged from Tuesday’s primary with the Democratic nomination for Westchester County executive. Latimer took 63.2 percent of the vote while his challenger Ken Jenkins picked up 36.8 percent. Latimer also carried the Reform Party line. Sen. Latimer now goes on to face incumbent County Executive Rob Astorino, who has roughly ten times the campaign cash on-hand as Latimer.

Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, R-Rensselaer

Steve McLaughlin won the Republican nomination for Rensselaer County executive after a messy campaign during which a recording of a hostile and vulgar telephone conversation with one of his aides surfaced in the news media. While McLaughlin has declared victory, his opponent in the primary Chris Meyer is, for the moment, holding off on conceding, hoping that absentee and affidavit ballots may win him the nomination.