Voters Head To The Polls To Cast Ballots In NY Primary


poll-electionDemocrats and Republicans around the state are competing in a federal primary that will determine the November slate of Congressional races in an electoral landscape changed by the once-a-decade redrawing of district lines.

Turnout in the Congressional primaries on Tuesday is expected to be low. It’s been years since New York has had a June primary and in April, just seven percent of Republicans turned out for the presidential primary.

But there are several hotly contested races around the state.

Rep. Charles Rangel is trying to get through a tough Democratic primary in a newly drawn Bronx-Manhattan district. Rangel, 82, is attempting to win a 22nd term after being censured by the House for a series of ethical violations.

He faces State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who would be the first Dominican-American in Congress if he wins the primary and the November general election.

“When he first got there, Nixon was president, Joe Namath was playing for the Jets and the Mets won their first championship,” Espaillat said about Rangel. “That was a long time ago and things are different now. Our goals and challenges are vastly different.”

But Rangel told CNN Tuesday that he’s “the only one that has the experience” and knowledge to work toward “the solution for jobs, health and education” issues that affect his district.

Rangel has also had some health problems. But he said Tuesday: “There’s nothing wrong with me today.”

He told CNN: “I got a clean bill of health. I’m fired up and ready to go.”

City Council member Charles Barron and state Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries face each other in Brooklyn’s 8th Congressional District vacated when Democrat Edolphus Towns retired.

The 8th district, which covers Brooklyn and Queens, contains heavily Jewish areas. Barron has made controversial statements about Israel while Jeffries supports the U.S. maintaining a strong relationship with the Israelis.

“He’s very, very willing to make enemies if it endears him to his friends,” David Birdsell, dean of the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College, said about Barron.

Jeffries is trying to mobilize the vote with a new mailer showing him with President Barack Obama – regarded as a tacit endorsement by the president.

Barron, who has been endorsed by Towns, was all smiles and sounded confident at his headquarters on New Lots Avenue on Tuesday, 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reported.

“I’m feeling very, very good about the hard work we’ve done and where we are at this point,” Barron said.

One voter said Barron is “honest” and “can’t be bought.”

Rival Jeffries was also in good spirits as he showed up to vote at P.S. 9 in Prospect Heights.

“We’ve united this district and we look forward to going down to Washington and doing the people’s business,” Jeffries said.

One supporter said she voted for Jeffries because he is “a unifier” who “knows how to bring people together.”

Grace Meng, Rory Lancman and Elizabeth Crowley are vying to replace retiring Democrat Gary Ackerman in Queens. If Meng wins and does it again in November in the heavily Democratic district, she’d be the first Asian representative from New York.

On the Senate side, lawyer Wendy Long, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos and Republican Bob Turner are competing for the chance to take on a well-funded Kirsten Gillibrand in November.

Gillibrand already has an advantage with more than $9 million in campaign cash. She’s also got plenty of practice running for federal office. This will be her second campaign for the Senate since she was appointed in 2009 to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. She won the election in 2010 to finish Clinton’s term that ends this year.

This time, Gillibrand’s running for a full, six-year term.

Meanwhile, there was trouble Tuesday morning for some voters when the wrong books were delivered to the polling precinct at 60 Division Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Board of Elections spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez said the problem started at 6:30 a.m., but was resolved by 8 a.m. and that anyone who was there during that time shouldn’t worry about their vote.

“No one will be disenfranchised. In that instance, they would have to fill out an affidavit ballot and affidavit ballots are in fact counted,” she said. “Our commissioners don’t certify the election until vote that was cast is in fact counted.”

Polls are open until 9 p.m.

{AP, CBS/ Newscenter}