â??The redistricting actually wasnâ??t bad for Republicans in New York,â?ť freshman Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.) told Human Events a week ago. The conservative swashbuckler and winner of one of the two closest House races in 2010 was expected to be a major target of the redistricting knife wielded by the Democratic-controlled state legislature in New York and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
But as it turned out, Buerkleâ??s Syracuse-based 24th District survived pretty much unscathed and she now faces the one-term liberal Democrat she unseated two years ago, Dan Maffei.
Two years after they picked up six new House districts in the Empire State, there are other rematches and fresh opportunities for Republicans in New York in 2012. In 2010, in the 21st District, investment fund manager Matt Doheny lost a squeaker to Democratic Rep. Bill Owens, with Dohenyâ??s primary foe Doug Hoffman remaining on the ballot as the Conservative Party nominee and draining enough votes from the GOP nominee to finish him. This year, Doheny won the primary, having the ballot lines of the Republican and Conservative Parties.
In the 27th District, former Erie County Executive Chris Collins won the right to face Democratic Rep. Kathy Hochul, who won a nationally-watched special election last year waged in part on her opposition to the budget of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). In the 25th, former TV newscaster and present Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks will carry the GOP and Conservative standards against 20-year Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter. In the 17th District (Westchester, Rockland Counties), Rye Town Supervisor Joe Carvin will square off against veteran Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey.
Although most of the press attention in New Yorkâ??s primaries Tuesday were focused on legendary Rep. Charlie Rangelâ??s struggle for survival in the Harlem-based district he has represented for 42 years, there were other exciting contests in both parties.
The Nassau County GOP under â??Bossâ?ť Joseph Mondello emerged triumphant again. As in 2010, Mondello-endorsed County Legislator Francis X. Becker won the Republican nomination against insurgent conservative and attorney Frank Scaturro. Becker is now in a rematch with Democratic Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, against whom he drew 46 percent of the vote in 2010. Becker also has the Conservative Party backing. In attacking Scaturro, the GOP organization sent out mailers linking the conservative hopeful to liberal former Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania — a weak connection, since Scaturro was on the staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee while Specter was chairman.
A crowded Democratic field to replace Rep. Gary Ackerman ended with an apparent victory by Assemblywoman Grace Meng, who had strong support from the outgoing congressman. Meng, who has the backing of the districtâ??s Asian community, defeated City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (cousin of Rep. Joe Crowley, the Queens County Democratic chair), Assemblyman Roy Lancman, and Dr. Robert Mittman. Lancman had the Working Families endorsement. Republicans have an unusually strong candidate in the New York City district in Councilman Daniel Halloran, who also carries the Conservative line.
Democrats dodged a bullet with the landslide defeat of City Councilman Charles Barron in the Bedford-Stuyvestant district long held by retiring Democratic Rep. Edolphus Towns. Barron was widely known for bombastic anti-Semitic remarks and rhetoric Clearly terrified of the idea of Barron in Congress, Democratic leaders from Gov. Cuomo on down have endorsed his leading rival, state legislator Hakeem Jeffries, who won with more than 70 percent of the vote.