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Few surprises in south Brooklyn’s state Senate and congressional primaries as Rose, Malliotakis, Gounardes and Chu secure noms

state senate races
Early results for south Brooklyn’s state Senate races are rolling in on Aug. 23.
File photo by Paul Frangipane

The polls are closed in the August state Senate and Congressional primaries, and here’s where south Brooklyn’s competitive races stand as of Wednesday. New candidates and incumbent politicians piled into the Democratic primary this year after redistricting dramatically changed the lines of some state Senate district and Congressional districts, opening the races to new challengers.

Congressional District 11 – Max Rose (D) and Nicole Malliotakis (R)

Former congressman Max Rose will once again face off against Republican incumbent Nicole Malliotakis in the race to represent parts of south Brooklyn and Staten Island in the House of Representatives, as both have won their primary bids. 

Rose, who lost to Malliotakis in the 2020 election, pulled out an easy primary victory over challengers Brittany Ramos DeBarros and Komi Agoda-Koussema, securing nearly 75% of the vote on Tuesday evening.

“I am so grateful to have earned the support of the people of the 11th Congressional District once again,” Rose wrote on Twitter. “If we are going to build a safe and affordable Staten Island and Brooklyn then we need to turn the page on the broken politics that brought us to this moment. 

The only Republican congressmember in New York City, Malliotakis appears to have handily beat her challenger John Matland, securing more than 12,000 votes to Matland’s roughly 3,300.

max rose
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and Rep. Max Rose will face off once again in the District 11 congressional race in November.File photo by Tom Callan/Max Rose for Congress

“I want to thank my colleagues, I want to thank my staff and I want to thank my volunteers who really did an amazing thing tonight. They were able to drive out the vote in a primary where we won by a larger margin than we did two years ago,” Malliotakis said to chants of “Nicole” from her campaign headquarters. “I humbly accept the nomination to be the republican and conservative candidate in this race.”

NY-11 is the only swing district in the city, having elected both Democrats and Republicans to Congress in recent years, and was the center of redistricting controversy earlier this year after the Democratic state legislature redrew it to become a more comfortable stronghold for Democrats. Those lines were later deemed unconstitutional and tossed out, and the district’s political future remains uncertain.

Senate District 26 – Andrew Gounardes (D) and Brian Fox (R)

State senator Andrew Gournades has won the Democratic primary in SD26 with two-thirds of the vote. Gounardes will face off against the Republican candidate, Brian Fox, in the November general election.

Gounardes, though a familiar face to many voters, wasn’t the incumbent in this race. The two-term senator ousted then-state Senator Marty Golden in SD22 in 2019, but redistricting pulled most of his existing district — including parts of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights — into the new SD22, which also includes parts of Sunset Park, Red Hook, Gowanus, and Cobble Hill. 

The new north Brooklyn neighborhoods presented a potential boon for Yassky, who represented the 33rd Council District — which includes DUMBO, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Boerum Hill — for eight years. Yassky’s calling the neighborhood home, combined with the work he’s done in the northern parts of the district as a councilmember, formed the base of his platform.

“I reached out tonight to Senator Gounardes to congratulate him on his win and to offer my help addressing the critical challenges facing Brooklyn,” Yassky wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night. “I am grateful to my supporters for the immense amount of time, energy and enthusiasm they poured into this effort, and to the talented and dedicated team that drove the campaign.”

State Senator Andrew Gounardes addresses the crowd on primary election night.Photo by Jada Camille

At an election night party at Greenwood Park, Gounardes said his team knocked on 67,000 doors and made about 100,000 calls during the campaign for the entirely new district.

“I’m almost at at a loss for words because for the first time I am overwhelmed because this district is so new,” he told the crowd. “There’s issues that confront these neighborhoods that I’ve never had to deal with before but I am so committed to working on and working towards solutions for. We all know that the future of not just this city, not just this state but very well this country, goes through capitols like Albany.”

Speaking with Brooklyn Paper after his win, the state senator said he’s ready to get to work.

“It is very rewarding, very gratifying and also very humbling,” he said. “I am so ready to roll up my sleeves to get to work.”

Senate District 23 – Joseph L. Tirone (R) and Jessica Scarcella-Spanton (D)

Jessica Scarcella-Spanton, a Democrat, and Joseph L. Tirone, a Republican, will face off in the November general election after winning their party primaries. Turnout in SD23 was particularly limited — only about 9,000 people participated in the Democratic primary, where Scarcella-Spanton took 59% of the vote, and just 2,878 voters cast their ballots in the Republican primary — 2,237 of those votes were cast for Tirone.

The boundaries of SD23, which includes parts of Coney Island, Brighton Beach, and Sheepshead Bay as well as sections of Staten Island, didn’t change much in the redistricting process — but longtime state Senator Diane Savino’s announcement that she was retiring incited a free-for-all as candidates swarmed to take her soon-to-be-empty seat. Scarcella-Spanton earned the support of the outgoing Savino, who said on Primary Day that she “couldn’t be more excited” to vote for the candidate.

Four Democrats — Bianca Rajpersaud, Jessica Scarcella-Spanton, Sarah Blas, and Rajiv S. Gowda — fought for the Democratic nomination, while two Republicans — Joseph Tirone Jr. and Sergey Fedorov — faced off for in the Republican primary.

Senate District 17 – Iwen Chu (D) and Vito LaBella (R)

The new SD17 presented new opportunities for voters and candidates: it’s the first Asian-majority state Senate district in the city, and initially attracted three Democratic candidates — but, before Primary Day, all but one dropped out or were disqualified, leaving Iwen Chu as the party nominee. 

Chu will face off against the Republican nominee, former New York City Police officer Vito LaBella, who was also his party’s only candidate, in the November general election. 

vito labella and iwen chu
Iwen Chu, a Democrat, will face off against Republican Vito LaBella in the November general election in SD17 after each won their party’s nomination in the primary elections. Photo courtesy Vito LaBella/Iwen Chu

Senate District 23 – Simcha Felder

Felder has represented parts of Midwood, Flatbush, Borough Park, Kensington and Bensonhurst in what is now SD17 for ten years, and despite redistricting changing the boundaries of his district and bumping him out of SD17 and into SD23, the longtime state Senator ran unopposed by Democrats and Republicans, and will be headed back to Albany come January.

Correction Aug. 25, 2022, 12:51pm: This story previously said Iwen Chu was the presumptive state Senator in SD17 — Chu is the presumptive Democratic candidate, and will compete against Republican nominee Vito LaBella in the November general election. We regret the error. 

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