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Thu Jun 25, 2020, 01:17 PM

New York primary elections signify next generation of political leaders [View all]

By Steve Israel

New York held its primary elections this week. Even before the absentee ballots are counted and the results certified, we know one thing about the political landscape. It is fundamentally changing in the state as a new generation uproots the establishment. It is a realignment based on demography, diversity, and disposition.

... First, demography. The older generation of Members of Congress has, well, gotten older. The networks of support that elected and reelected them are being replenished by new, younger networks. I saw it for myself, when I ran my final campaign for Congress in 2014, and realized that my own electorate was aging out and the growth was among young voters who were newborns in my first election and, as voters, had little idea who I was.

Second, diversity. Safe blue seats remain blue, but the voters are of richer and more diverse colors. New York’s African Americans population increased 5.9 percent between 2000 and 2019; the Hispanic or Latinopopulation increased 30.3 percent in the same period.

Third, disposition. Congressional seniority yields to political intensity. The old rules - wait your turn, pay your dues - are rightfully cast aside by a resistance to Donald Trump that does not believe we can afford to wait. Once upon a time, newly elected Members of Congress were keen on “going along to get along.” On Tuesday night, Bowman told his supporters that he couldn’t wait to get to Congress to “cause problems.”

There are mitigating circumstances worth noting...Jerry Nadler convincingly beat back his opponents. I have written before that Nadler is an underestimated street fighter. He never left the streets of his district, providing constituent services and attending local events even as he led the impeachment of President Trump. There is a lesson in that for incumbents worried about future primaries.


Steve Israel represented New York in Congress for 16 years and was the chairman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2011 to 2015.

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Reply New York primary elections signify next generation of political leaders [View all]
BeyondGeography Jun 2020 OP
TheFarseer Jun 2020 #1