Clarke, Nadler hold off challengers in Democratic primary

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Two members of Congress representing New York City, Yvette Clarke and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler, have prevailed in the state's Democratic primary.

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Thousands of votes cast by mail in the primary that concluded June 23 have yet to be counted, but an AP analysis of absentee ballots returned so far indicated Wednesday that both held leads after in-person voting that were too large for their opponents to overcome.

Clarke defeated four challengers in New York’s 9th Congressional District, including Adem Bunkeddeko, who she also beat in a primary in 2018.

Clarke, 55, has been in Congress since 2007 and is the only Black woman in New York’s congressional delegation. Her district covers parts of Brooklyn including Crown Heights, Flatbush and Sheepshead Bay.

Krysten Copeland, Clarke's campaign communication director, said they were overwhelmed by the support.

“We’re really grateful and proud of the race we ran," she said.

Nadler had faced two challengers in Tuesday’s election who critiqued him for not doing enough for his district. But support for insurgent challengers fizzled after Nadler helped lead the Democratic case for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, who is deeply unpopular in the district.

His support included an endorsement from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The district covers the west side of Manhattan and extends into part of Brooklyn.

Nadler, who was first elected to the House in 1992, defeated primary opponents Lindsey Boylan, a former adviser to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and Jonathan Herzog, a former member of Andrew Yang’s presidential campaign staff.

Many counties across New York on Wednesday began counting the absentee ballots that will determine who won many primary contests.

In-person voting in the party primaries wrapped up a week ago Tuesday, but because of the coronavirus the state allowed all voters to cast their ballots by mail.

Some counties don't plan to begin tallying votes until the start of next week.

Among the undecided contests is the Democratic primary between U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel and challenger Jamaal Bowman in a district that includes the Bronx and part of Westchester County. Another close Democratic primary fight is in New York City between U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney and challenger Suraj Patel.

Voters also selected their candidates in primaries to succeed U.S. Reps Nita Lowey and Jose Serrano, both Democrats, and Republican U.S. Rep. Peter King in Congress. All three are retiring.

Many state legislative primaries remain undecided as well.

In another race called by The Associated Press on Wednesday, State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis won the Republican primary in New York’s 11th Congressional District, setting her up for a showdown with Democratic U.S. Rep. Max Rose in the fall.

Rose defeated Republican Dan Donovan in 2018 in a district that includes Staten Island and part of Brooklyn, and Republicans would love to flip the seat back.

Malliotakis defeated former prosecutor Joe Caldarera in the primary. She was endorsed by Trump and by local Republican Party officials. Malliotakis ran unsuccessfully for New York City mayor in 2017, losing to Bill de Blasio.

Campaign spokesman Rob Ryan was looking ahead to the general election against Rose, and cited Malliotakis' “10-year record of fighting for the residents of Staten Island and Southern Brooklyn" and said Malliotakis would be “a strong supporter of President Trump.”