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A Comprehensive Guide to the 2018 New York State Primaries

Candidates for the upcoming primaries on September 13 claim they are on a mission to safeguard New Yorkers from the Trump administration.
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Numerous seats are open in this year's primaries for statewide positions such as governor and lieutenant governor, attorney general, the state's chief legal officer, as well as local races for state assembly and senate districts.

Here's a quick and handy rundown on who's running, their platforms and the challenges they face, ahead of the primary election on Thursday, September 13, 2018. The general election will be held on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.

New York State Governor 

Andrew M. Cuomo versus Cynthia Nixon

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Photo courtesy Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

Andrew M. Cuomo (incumbent)


  • Criminal justice reform
  • Gun safety
  • Educational opportunity for all
  • LGBTQ rights
  • Minimum wage

Running on a staunchly anti-Trump ticket, Governor Andrew Cuomo pitches his experience as vital in keeping New York a progressive state. But his opponent Cynthia Nixon has railed against him for condoning the recently disbanded Independent Democratic Conference in the State Senate, which allowed Republicans to seize control, despite the Democratic majority, in exchange for special interest money.

Cuomo's achievements include raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, instituting 12 weeks of paid family leave and legalizing same-sex marriage in New York. While his third-term agenda remains shrouded in mystery, Cuomo has expressed plans to tackle major infrastructure projects such as the expansion of Penn Station and the renovation of LaGuardia Airport. 

In his bid for re-election, the governor has leaned heavily on past achievements, such as infrastructure projects including the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River, the opening of the Second Avenue Subway, as well as his Middle-Class Recovery Act which includes the Excelsior scholarship offering free tuition for qualifying CUNY and SUNY students and tax cuts for those making $40,000-$150,000 a year.

Cynthia Nixon
Image courtesy of Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon


  • #SchoolsNotJails
  • Fixing the subway
  • Single-payer healthcare
  • Universal rent control
  • Legalization of marijuana
  • Immigrant rights - all New Yorkers should be able to obtain a driver's license regardless of immigration status

Challenging Cuomo's bid, actress and activist Cynthia Nixon is pushing for a "millionaire's tax" to overhaul New York's deteriorating subway system -- a misnomer considering the tax hike kicks in at $300,000 for a married couple. She is also an advocate for single-payer healthcare, which would cut the administrative costs of insurers as middlemen.

According to the 22-page #SchoolsNotJails plan on Nixon's website, her agenda for the justice system is decidedly progressive: end arrests for low-level offenses, eliminate cash bail, release police misconduct records to the public and stop prosecuting minors under 18 as adults. Nixon wants money funneled towards schools instead of jails and is quick to point out the massive gap between what it costs to keep one person in an NYC prison for a year ($118,000) and the cost of tuition at a CUNY or SUNY ($6,500 and $21,000 respectively). 

Lieutenant Governor

Kathy Hochul versus Jumaane Williams

Kathy Hochul
Photo courtesy of Kathy Hochul

Kathy Hochul (incumbent)


  • Gun control
  • Access to higher education
  • Women's rights
  • Economic development
  • Immigrant rights

Incumbent Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul has represented Cuomo since 2014 in meetings with local business owners, mayors and community leaders and visiting college campuses.

In 2017, Cuomo appointed Hochul to co-chair the Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Abuse and Addiction, in which she convened outreach sessions across the state with experts and community members to devise a comprehensive strategy to combat the heroin crisis. As chair of the Regional Economic Development Council, Hochul has secured a record increase of workforce development funding to help New Yorkers find well-paying jobs.

affordable housing, BK Reader, Housing Not Warehousing Act, Picture The Homeless, Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYC affordable housing, Brooklyn affordable housing, NYC affordable housing crisis, affordable housing crisis, homelessness crisis, NYC homeless, Jumaane Williams, Jumaane D. Williams,
Photo credit:

Jumaane D. Williams


  • Women's reproductive rights
  • Criminal justice reform
  • Environmental protection
  • Gun violence prevention
  • Legalizing marijuana
  • Affordable housing

City Councilman Jumaane Williams representing Brooklyn's 45th Council District claims that blockage of progressive legislation in New York State is caused by "Democrats who are afraid to step up" and not the Republican opposition. Williams wants to impose a "billionaire's tax" to fund public education and shift the tax brackets upwards to relieve the lower and middle class.

If elected, Williams believes his task first and foremost would be rectifying "Cuomo's MTA" and "Cuomo's educational crisis." He has accused his incumbent challenger, Kathy Hochul, for being complicit in Cuomo's conservative-leaning agenda and wants to revamp the role of lieutenant governor into one that holds the governor accountable.

Attorney General

Candidates: Letitia James, Zephyr Teachout, Sean Patrick Maloney and  Leecia Eve

New York State primaries 2018
Candidates for Attorney General (left to right): Tish James, Zephyr Teachout, Sean Patrick Maloney, Leecia Eve

After former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned in May, following allegations of sexual assault, his position has been contested by four candidates: NYC Public Advocate Tish James, Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout, lawyer and former Hillary Clinton advisor Leecia Eve and representative for New York's 18th Congressional District Sean Patrick Maloney, who is simultaneously running for re-election.

The race for AG highlights the emerging rift between establishment Democrats and their insurgent challengers who are pushing further left. All four candidates claim intentions of protecting New Yorkers from the Trump administration's conservative policies.

If elected, James, who sued NYCHA in 2015 for keeping tenants in dangerously cold apartments, wants to oust U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson as well as President Trump. Teachout has vowed to launch an investigation into the president's business empire and prosecute or even dissolve it in the case of extreme illegality. Meanwhile, Eve has applauded Schneiderman's push to change state law so that the AG has the power to prosecute Trump aides even if he pardoned them, while Maloney has expressed fighting corruption in the state government as a priority.

State Senate District 18 (Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bushwick, Cypress Hills)

Martin Malave Dilan versus Julia Salazar 

New York State primaries 2018
Martin Malave Dilan and Julia Salazar

Incumbent Senator Martin Dilan has championed causes such as tenant rights, public safety, voting rights and numerous transportation issues including a ban on texting while driving and Leandra's Law, which makes it a felony to drive while intoxicated with a child in the car.

Democratic socialist and community activist Julia Salazar is challenging Dilan for the Senate seat he's occupied since 2003. Part of a wave of Democrats who identify as socialists, Salazar has put affordable housing at the center of her campaign, vowing to end vacancy decontrol, preferential rent and permanent MCI-induced rent increases.

State Senate District 20 (Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, South Slope and Sunset Park)

Jesse Hamilton versus Zellnor Myrie

2018 New York State Primaries
Sen. Jesse Hamilton and Zellnor Myrie

The tussle between incumbent State Senator Jesse Hamilton and progressive attorney Zellnor Myrie typifies the Who is a real Democrat? controversy weighing down this year's election cycle. One of eight senators who caucused separately with Republicans through the Independent Democratic Conference, Hamilton has been accused of accepting contributions from real estate lobbyists and blocking progressive legislation in the Senate.

A former City Council staffer, Myrie helped write the first tenant's bill of rights protecting tenants from unscrupulous landlords. If elected, Myrie wants to repeal the Urstadt law, which caps rent stabilization in NYC.

Both candidates want to eliminate preferential rent and vacancy decontrols and make MCIs, an increase in rent after a major capital improvement, temporary. Meanwhile, Hamilton wants to increase funding for public schools to hire more social workers rather than security guards as an antidote to violence in schools and pass the Liberty Act to establish New York as a sanctuary state.

State Assembly District 53  (Bushwick, East Williamsburg)

Maritza Davila versus Humberto Soto

New York State Primaries 2018
Photo courtesy of Maritza Davila

Assemblywoman Maritza Davila has fought to expand affordable housing in Williamsburg and Bushwick, recently joining a host of lawmakers to contest a 27-story building slated for construction on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border.

Her opponent, Humberto Soto is listed on, but does not appear to have a website nor any press coverage during the course of his campaign.

State Assembly District 60 (East New York)

Charles Barron versus Jaytee Spurgeon

New York State Primaries 2018
Photo courtesy of Charles Barron

Former City Councilman Charles Barron is a longtime community organizer who recently joined forces with Mayor de Blasio to introduce a bill that would eliminate the city's Specialized High School Admissions Test in a bid to increase diversity at specialized high schools. A founding member of the East New York-based group People Organizing and Working for Empowerment and Respect, Barron has voiced his support for Nixon as governor, stating: "With a $168 billion budget there should be zero poverty in our community."

Barron's opponent, Jaytee Spurgeon does not appear to have a campaign website or any press coverage during his campaign, although he is listed as a candidate on