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New York’s Yvette Clarke Narrowly Survives Primary Challenge

Brooklyn lawmaker and other New York City Democrats avoid Crowley’s fate

New York Rep. Yvette D. Clarke survived a primary challenge Tuesday night. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
New York Rep. Yvette D. Clarke survived a primary challenge Tuesday night. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New York Rep. Yvette D. Clarke narrowly survived a primary challenge in the 9th District on Tuesday night. 

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Clarke led community organizer Adem Bunkeddeko, 52 percent to 48 percent, when The Associated Press called the race.

Earlier in the evening, fellow New York Rep. Joseph Crowley, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, became the first Democratic incumbent to lose this year, when he lost to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the 14th District. Crowley, Clarke and two other New York City Democrats in safe seats for the party faced unusually spirited primary challengers this year that caused the incumbents to dip into their campaign coffers. All but Crowley prevailed. 

In Clarke’s race for the Brooklyn-based 9th District, The New York Times had endorsed Bunkeddeko — the son of Ugandan war refugees — earlier this month, praising his resume and calling his biography “inspiring.”

The editorial board said Clarke’s “major legislative accomplishments have been regrettably far between in her tenure in Congress,” and said the district deserved “a more energetic advocate in Washington.”

Bunkeddeko had attacked the incumbent for not being an original sponsor of a single bill that has become law in her 12 years in Washington. 

Clarke had spent $620,000 on the race by the end of the pre-primary reporting period compared to$231,000 by Bunkeddeko. 

Prior to her election to the House in 2006, Clarke had unsuccessfully challenged her predecessor, Democrat Major R. Owens. She had been unopposed in four of her last five primaries since coming to Congress. Her last primary challenge was six years ago, and she won by 76 points.

Elsewhere in the Big Apple, 15-term Democratic Rep. Eliot L. Engel easily prevailed over businessman Jonathan Lewis, who largely self-funded his campaign, in the 16th District, which includes parts of the Bronx. With 53 percent of precincts reporting, Engel led Lewis 75 percent to 15 percent, according to the AP.

And in the 12th District, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney won her primary over hotel executive Suraj Patel. With 87 percent of precincts reporting, she led Patel 58 percent to 42 percent, according to the AP. 

Maloney faced a contested primary challenge from another 34-year-old in 2010, whom The New York Times described at the time as an “aggressive challenger.” Despite an expensive primary race, she trounced Reshma Saujani by 66 points that year. Saujani had endorsed the 13-term incumbent in this race.

Joe Morelle, the New York State Assembly majority leader, won the Democratic nomination for the open Rochester-based 25th District. With 92 percent of precincts reporting, he led a four-way primary field with 43 percent of the vote, according to the AP.

Morelle is favored to succeed the late Democratic Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, who died unexpectedly in March. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Solid Democratic.

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