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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

A second split season for New York voters

Voters cast ballots at the Lindell Elementary School

Voters cast ballots at the Lindell Elementary School in Long Beach. (Nov. 5, 2013) Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Get used to the new abnormal.

New York State is now on track to indefinitely spend tens of millions of dollars more every two years to hold two primary days -- one for federal office in June, another for state office in September.

This absurdity first arose in 2012 when the major parties failed to agree on a single primary date. The federal contests had to be moved forward because a new U.S. law to assure timely overseas balloting made the traditional all-in-one September date unworkably close to November. Assembly Democrats wanted both shifted to June; the Senate Republicans, to August.

With this Albany standoff still in effect after two years, congressional petitioning has begun for yet another separate federal primary on June 24.

Election experts believe this suppresses turnout. And oddly, in places where nomination is tantamount to election, primary winners will know six months in advance whether they will take office next January. For example, State Sen. Adriano Espaillat(D-Manhattan/Bronx) faces veteran Rep. Charles Rangel, whom he nearly unseated last time, and possiblyMichael Waldron, an aide to the Rev. Al Sharpton, in New York City's 13th District -- which has virtually no GOP presence.

On Long Island, Democrats look to one big internal contest: Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) against Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, for the chance to face Republican Bruce Blakeman in the fall. All seek to succeed retiring Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) in the 4th District. In the 1st District, Republicans are due to choose between attorney George Demos and state Sen.Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) to challenge Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton).

This widely watched GOP primary now puts former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Gov. George Pataki on the same page. Giuliani backs Demos; his longtime associate Jake Menges is advising the latter's campaign. Menges and Demos campaign manager Kevin Tschirhart worked last year in former Giuliani deputy Joe Lhota's mayoral run. Pataki, like Demos, endorsedJohn Catsimatidis over Lhota in the 2013 GOP mayoral primary.

But the Suffolk and state GOP organizations support Zeldin.

While partisan rivalry builds nearby, House incumbents Steve Israel (D-Huntington) and Peter King (R-Seaford) are due to appear together Monday to unveil legislation involving emergency-responder radios. In the 3rd District, Israel will face either Republican Steve Labate or Grant Lally in the fall, with Patricia Maher the 2nd District Democratic challenger to King.

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