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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Much of New York headed for slow primary day

Long Beach residents voting at Lindell Elementary School

Long Beach residents voting at Lindell Elementary School in Long Beach on Nov. 5, 2013. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Statewide candidates of both major parties face their clearest path to the November ballot in many years -- in especially stark contrast to 2010, a banner year for big primaries.

Much of New York, in fact, appears headed for a slow primary day this September -- the kind that produces only scattered pockets of local participation but sighs of relief from top party officials.

The reasons are simple.

For one, all intraparty contests for Congress this year will be voted on June 24 -- and thus decided way before state and local primaries on Sept. 9.

For another, Democrats hold all the top incumbencies, making internal challenges difficult against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

Cuomo may yet face protest-style primary challenges from registered Democrats Zephyr Teachout, Randy Credico and possibly others, but the governor holds overwhelming advantages against them too obvious to list.

Like the Democrats, Republican leaders held a painless convention last month to nominate Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino for governor, Bob Antonacci for comptroller and John Cahill for attorney general. No significant rivalries for those nominations have yet to emerge.

Contrast all that with four years ago, when Republican gubernatorial candidates Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino clashed in a bitter primary contest, and Paladino won the upset in a show of force by Western New York Republican activists.

There was also the rare appearance of two U.S. Senate seats on a single general-election ballot that generated separate GOP primaries. And on the Democratic side, September 2010 featured an intense five-way primary for attorney general to succeed Cuomo from which Schneiderman emerged the winner, 2 percentage points ahead of Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice.

This year, the September primaries with the biggest potential to change the political landscape could be on the Democratic side in State Senate districts where members of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference face challenges from their left. In the Bronx, former state Attorney General Oliver Koppell looks to unseat the conference's leader, Sen. Jeffrey Klein. And former city Comptroller John Liu has designs on the Queens Senate seat held by conference member Anthony Avella.


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