Candidate filing closed earlier this month for New York's June 26 federal primary, but there are a few important things we need to discuss before we dive into who actually filed to run for Congress, which we'll do separately in the Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest.
To begin with, New York is the only state that conducts two entirely separate primaries: one for Congress and another for state-level offices like governor, attorney general, and the state legislature, which doesn't take place until Sept. 13. What’s more, the filing deadline for that second primary isn’t until July 12, so congressional candidate who lose in June can just turn around and run for state office.
Indeed, a number of sitting state legislators who lost primaries for Congress did in order to keep their seats. For instance, then-state Sen. Adriano Espaillat lost June primaries to Rep. Charlie Rangel in both 2012 and 2014, but he won renomination to his legislative seat afterwards both times. (When Rangel retired in 2016 and Espaillat finally won the primary for his House seat, there was an open-seat race to succeed Espaillat in the state Senate a few months later.) Republican Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney did the same thing in 2014, and she likewise won an open House seat the following cycle.
This unique and expensive state of affairs has been in place since 2012, when a federal judge ordered the state to move its federal primaries from September to the fourth Tuesday in June in order to comply with a federal law requiring ballots be sent to servicemembers overseas at least 45 days before Election Day. Because this federal law doesn’t affect state elections, the judge left the September state-level primaries untouched, though he encouraged lawmakers to consolidate the two dates.
That never happened. The Democratic-controlled state Assembly has long wanted all primaries to take place in June, while the Republican-led state Senate has pushed for August. In fact, the Assembly has passed legislation to establish a single June primary, and Senate Democrats support the idea. So why the GOP refusal to simply go with the judge’s June date?
Republicans legislators have never satisfactorily explained their reasoning, though it’s not hard to guess why. Few Democrats in the legislature are vulnerable in general elections while plenty of Republicans are, so the GOP cynically prefers a late primary since it gives their opponents as little time as possible to organize after winning nomination. As a result, New York spends a fortune to hold two primaries instead of one: The state Senate estimates that a consolidated date could save $25 million—and turnout suffers as well.
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