Typical thinking long held that the state Republicans are as primary-shy as the Democrats are primary-prone.
But GOP candidates for U.S. Senate may go head-to-head at the polls in September — while for Democrats, the only primary contest brewing so far is for attorney general.
“It would be nice to avoid it, but I don’t know how likely that is right now,” said a Republican insider. “It would be a crap shoot. You wouldn’t know who to target or who shows up in a primary. It would be hard to predict or to plan for.”
One reason: the state party’s last memorable internal contest came 30 years ago when Alfonse D’Amato beat incumbent U.S. Sen. Jacob Javits. (In 1994, George Pataki beat Richard Rosenbaum in a gubernatorial primary, but easily.)
Today, rival GOP hopefuls against Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand include David Malpass, Bruce Blakeman and Joseph DioGuardi. Another prospect might soon jump in, insiders say. Each wants the Conservative line early, to leverage support at the GOP’s June convention, but it is unclear if and when Republican and Conservative leaders — at odds on the governor’s race — might coalesce behind Senate candidates.
The Democrats’ early lineup to succeed Andrew Cuomo as he runs for governor features Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, state Sen. Eric Schneiderman, lawyer Sean Coffey, ex-state official Eric Dinallo, and Assemb. Richard Brodsky. Rice could find an advantage as the only woman in the fray and enjoys trade-union support. But Schneiderman has New York City progressive props — and service-union support. That means a lot if primary turnout proves low — which seems likely.
After all, Gillibrand’s way out-funded challenges from Jonathan Tasini and Scott Noren, and Sen. Charles Schumer’s facing Randy Credico, stand to draw only the most minimal hype. Top Democratic players spent months discouraging and squelching challenges to the appointed Gillibrand. Cuomo, and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, appear assured of nomination.