Assemblymen Daniel O’Donnell, 55, fended off competition tonight from political newcomer Steven Appel, 31, and held on to his District 69 seat in Albany.
O’Donnell, who has been in office since he was elected in 2002, received 73.3 percent of the vote, according to the New York State Board of Elections.
O’Donnell had not responded to a request to comment by the time of publication.
His competitor Steven Appel received 19.9 percent of the vote. Appel said, “I am deeply grateful to my beloved family and friends for their extraordinary support over the course of this campaign.
“I am very proud of the campaign we ran and I could not have done it without them. I am also honored to have earned the votes of so many members of our community here in the 69th Assembly District. We will continue to fight for a more innovative and unifying politics.”
Almost 6 percent of votes were left blank and of the almost 60,000 active enrolled Democrats in the district, only 9,501 voted in the primary.
O’Donnell will next be on the ballot for the general election on Nov. 8. He will face Republican Stephen Garrin, who ran unopposed in the primaries.
The city’s oldest and largest LGBT political club has endorsed three candidates in Manhattan’s contested Democratic primaries, and is making a special push for one of them.
The Stonewall Democrats of New York City held a volunteer event last night for Micah Lasher, the 34-year-old first-time candidate running for Senate District 31. They’ve also endorsed Carmen N. De La Rosa in Assembly District 72 and Daniel O’Donnell in Assembly District 69.
A former chief of staff to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and director of state legislative affairs under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Lasher doesn’t lack friends in high places. In fact, out of the four candidates running for the vacant seat, he’s the closest to the city’s intellectual and financial elite – they helped him raise over $450,000 in campaign funds.
So what makes the Upper West Sider fit to represent thiswidespread, often underrepresented community?
Rose Christ, vice president of the club for the last four years, said that an effective representative doesn’t have be a mirror of his or her constituents.
“I like people that worked aggressively when they were staffers,” she said. “They have an insider’s perspective and just need the influence to make things happen.”
Christ herself was split between Lasher and Robert Jackson, until one particular issue.
“Religious organizations using public schools for programming,” she said. It’s a sticking point for Stonewall members who believe that religious events are often discriminatory, and sometimes outright hateful, of the LGBT community.
According to Christ, Lasher is the only candidate who adamantly opposed the use of public spaces for religious programming. He also mentions the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), a proposed New York law that protects gender identity and expression under human rights and hate crime laws, as a priority on his campaign website.
“The other candidates won’t prioritize passing GENDA, especially the candidate being supported by the IDC,” Christ said, referring to the Independent Democratic Conference. The breakaway coalition that caucuses with the GOP in New York State Senate has thrown its support behind Lasher’s opponent, Marisol Alcantara.
“That was a deciding factor for a lot of us. That’s when I thought Lasher’s our guy,” she said.
Yes, you’re not imagining it. We did just have a primary, on June 28, when New Yorkers picked the candidates to replace longtime Congressman Charles Rangel. And a few months before that, April 19, it was the Presidential primary battle. Today’s primary election, for New York State legislative offices, is the third of the year.
“This primary will probably be the lowest voter turnout on record. People are too confused,” said Donathon Salkaln of Manhattan.
Salkaln, who is running today for alternate delegate on the judicial nominating convention, was outside PS 133 in Chelsea this morning passing out flyers with the title, “Don’t Forget Primary Day is Tuesday, September 13th.”
“They’ve had three primaries and it’s been a total waste of money. I think every one of these is about $14 million. That money could go to affordable housing.” said Salkaln.
Holding federal and state primaries on two separate dates in New York costs “counties an extra $25 million by the Legislature’s estimate” according to an article on DemocratandChronicle.com.
It didn’t used to be this way. In 2012, a federal judge ordered the congressional primary to be moved earlier in order to comply with a law requiring enough time for military absentee voting. Since then, the divided New York State legislature has been trying to come up with a common federal and state primary date. But once again, they were unable to reach a compromise, which led many of us to the polls for the third time this year.
These primaries are all pointing toward one more voting day: Nov. 8. That’s when the winners of the 2016 primaries will face off, including Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, who are vying to become the 45th President of the United States.
As the morning of the primary drags on and campaign volunteers try to lure voters into the polls on their way to work, there’s one group of people that’s sure to make an appearance — senior citizens. The older residents of upper Manhattan are historically active in the polls: a 2015 NYDaily News report shows 38 percent of those aged 60-69 and 36 percent of those aged 70-plus turned out to vote in 2014. That’s compared to only 11 percent of eligible voters in the age group 18-29.
Why so active? Poll station volunteer Shanene L. Harmon says, “They know the importance of voting. They’re the ones reading the news. With social security and benefits, they’re impacted the most by who gets elected.” Others, like poll worker Esa M. Moses, think it is more than their own interests. “The senior citizens are faithful. They care about what’s going on,” she says.
Several candidates vying for the open Senate seat in District 31 have recognized the loyalty, and availability, of this demographic. Marisol Alcantara’s campaign team organized services to shuttle the seniors to and from poll stations, and Luis Tejada visited several senior centers. “They’re gonna make the difference in the election today,” Tejada says. Robert Jackson and Micah Lasher weren’t available to comment.