Brooklyn incumbents finish strong in Assembly primary

Photo Jun 28, 6 36 51 AM
A Board of Elections poll worker in Park Slope on Primary Election Day, June 28. Incumbents finished strong in Brooklyn’s competitive Democratic primaries.
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Not all results are final, but, the morning after New York’s Assembly primaries, most of Brooklyn’s incumbent candidates have handily won re-election.

Nine Democratic incumbents in Brooklyn faced challengers this year, but, as of Wednesday morning, all will be headed back to Albany in January.

Brian Cunningham, who won the special election in Assembly District 43 back in March, won his race handily with more than 60 percent of the vote; freshman Assemblymember Emily Gallagher is on her way to re-election in North Brooklyn’s AD50; and Monique Chandler-Waterman scored more than 64 percent of votes in AD58, leaving her opponent, Eric Adams-backed Hercules Reid, in the dust.

“Running this race has been exhausting and even though we may not be happy with the results, I am thankful for the community that has continuously been there for be the entire way through,” said Tim Hunter, who ran against Cunningham in AD43, on Twitter. “This was never just a race about one person, it was always about the movement, I am always indebted to you for welcoming me with open arms, and trust me, we are far from over!”

Earlier Tuesday, Cunningham told Brooklyn Paper that, no matter the outcome, primary elections are about one thing: giving power to the people.

“The most important thing is getting more voter turnout,” Cunningham told Brooklyn Paper. “I think especially given the recent decisions of the Supreme Court, as it pertains to concealed carry or a woman’s right to choose, we are seeing that the federal government is returning power to the state government, and I think it’s really important in this moment that we take our state elections and local elections seriously. Because the power is returning.”

“Thanks District 50 for showing such a strong faith in me,” Gallagher tweeted.”I am really so grateful to continue on this journey representing you.

In Bushwick’s AD54, Democratic Socialists of America-backed challenger Samy Nemir Olivares had a lead on seven-year incumbent Erik M. Dilan in early returns — but, by late Tuesday evening, Dilan had pulled ahead, and, as of Wednesday morning, with 99% of the vote counted, he had won 52% of votes to Olivares’ 48%.

But with just 190 votes between the two candidates at the end of the night, Nemir Olivares’s communications and policy director, Katelin Penner, tweeted Wednesday that the race was still too close to call.


“We’re so grateful for all the support we have gotten over the past eight months — we couldn’t have built this movement without your help,” Nemir Olivares tweeted earlier in the day. That support clearly carried over into election day, during which groups like The Jewish Vote and Make the Road NY hit the streets of Bushwick dressed as pickles to campaign for the progressive candidate.


Not far away in AD57, another progressive candidate held onto her Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Prospect Heights and Crown Heights seat.

“This victory permanently cements our movement in Albany,” said Assemblymember Phara Souffrant-Forrest, who toppled her challenger, former district leader and State Committee member Olanike Alabi, in AD57 on Tuesday. “Not only did the people of Brooklyn vote a socialist into office in 2020, they came back to the polls this time and declared that we are here to stay. This is a victory for workers, tenants, students, and everyone who is tired of machine politics ignoring their needs.”

As did Marcela Mitaynes in AD51. Democratic socialist Mitaynes faced a primary challenge from Erik Frankel, the the fourth-generation owner of Frankel’s Shoe Store in Sunset Park who also unsuccessfully challenged Councilmember Alexa Avilés last November. Mitaynes was one of a number of DSA-backed insurgents to topple Brooklyn Assembly incumbents in 2020.

Turnout in Tuesday’s primary was particularly low — fewer than 90,000 New York City voters headed to the polls during nine days of early voting, and, while numbers aren’t finalized, only around 4,000 people voted in the AD54 primary, but there are more than 100,000 residents of voting age within the district.

Absentee and early votes are still being counted, though final tallies are not expected to take as long as they have in recent elections — new rules meant that the Board of Elections could start counting whichever absentee votes had already arrived on Tuesday evening after polls closed, speeding up the process. 

Mathylde Frontus, the incumbent candidate in southern Brooklyn’s AD46, said late on Tuesday that she had won her race despite unfair criticisms and attacks from opponents and other political figures in the area.

“I’m not going to lie to you. This race was tough and emotionally taxing,” Frontus wrote on Facebook.

“Although Coney Island has four elected representatives, I have often found myself standing alone when fighting for certain quality of life issues such as the dredging related pollution which took place at Coney Island Creek,” she said. “I truly thank the voters for seeing past the barrage of propaganda and giving me a chance to keep fighting for the community.”

Other incumbent victories included Latrice Walker and Nikki Lucas.

Walker, who has served Ocean Hill, Brownsville and Crown Heights since 2015, is most well-known as the prime sponsor of the state’s bail reform law. She bested a practically silent challenger, Tracey Cashaw, with a whopping 90% of the vote Tuesday night.

In a tweet Wednesday morning, Walker said it’s back to business.

“Thank you to the voters in the 55th Assembly District. Thank you to the volunteers and staff. I wouldn’t be here without you,” she tweeted. “I’ll be in Albany tomorrow to address gun safety legislation after the recent SCOTUS decision on conceal and carry permits in NY. The work continues!”

Lucas, who won the East New York seat in a special election earlier this year, faced a rematch from DSA-backed Keron Alleyne. According to unofficial election night results, Lucas beat Alleyne with more than 72% of the vote.

Outside of the city, Governor Kathy Hochul handily won the Democratic gubernatorial primary Tuesday night, moving her one step closer to her first full term as the state’s top executive. Antonio Delgado, Hochul’s lieutenant governor, will be her running mate in the general election after overcoming challengers Diana Reyna and Ana Maria Archila – who were running alongside Tom Suozzi and Jumaane Williams respectively.