Last updated: 12:50 a.m.
Tompkins County Legislator Anna Kelles and D.A. Challenger Ed Kopko Lead Election Night Returns, but Majority of Votes Left to Be Counted
As of 12:50 a.m. and with all precincts reporting in Tompkins County and 33 of 51 precincts reporting in Cortland County, here are preliminary returns for Assembly District 125 from in-person voting. Over 7,000 absentee ballots have been submitted to the Tompkins County Board of Elections, the commissioner told The Sun –– meaning the voting returns below represent less than half of the total votes cast in the election.
- Anna Kelles: 34.1% (1,745 votes)
- Seph Murtagh ’09: 20.2% (1,036 votes)
- Prof. Sujata Gibson, law: 15.6% (800 votes)
- Jordan A. Lesser ’03: 15.4% (789 votes)
- Jason Leifer: 6.2% (318 votes)
- Beau A.C. Harbin: 4.8% (244 votes)
- Lisa W. Hoeschele: 3.6% (186 votes)
With all precincts reporting in Tompkins County, here are preliminary returns in the race for District Attorney:
- Edward Kopko: 57.5% (2,200 votes)
- Matthew Van Houten*: 42.4% (1621 votes)
These results are unofficial.
Two Cornell Alumni Running For Congress Trail Behind Progressive Favorite in NY-17
Adam Schleifer ’03 and David Carlucci ’02 — both Cornell alumni — are currently trailing Mondaire Jones in the Democratic primary race for New York’s 17th congressional district, with 12 percent of votes reported. Jones leads with 44.8 percent of the vote, with Schleifer at 21.0 percent and Carlucci at 13.6 percent.
The 17th congressional district encompasses Rockland County and parts of Westchester County — Rockland has reported all of its votes as Jones garnered 6,822 votes while Schleifer had 4,536. As of 12:49 a.m. Westchester has reported 99 percent of its votes, with Jones leading at 6,105 votes to Schleifer’s 1,535.
At Cornell, Schleifer double-majored in government and philosophy, and worked as a federal prosecutor before running for office. Schleifer was also one of the prosecutors involved in the “Operation Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal. According to The New York Times, Schleifer pumped nearly $4 million of his own money into his campaign.
A Rockland County native, Carlucci graduated from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations in 2002, and has been a New York State senator since 2010. Previously, Carlucci was a staff assistant for Rep. Elliot Engle (D-N.Y.) and a Clarkstown’s Town Clerk.
Jones has been hailed as a favorite for progressives, earning endorsements from Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as well as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). If elected, Jones would be the first openly LGBTQ Black member of Congress.
Joe Biden Wins New York, AP Reports. Dissent Shows in Tompkins County
The Associated Press called New York’s presidential primary for former Vice President Joe Biden just after polls closed in the state. As of 12:45 a.m. Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Biden received 66.4 percent of the vote statewide.
In Tompkins County, however, support for Biden was less than sound for a presumptive nominee: Returns from in-person voting indicate that in the county he received 53.57% percent of the vote. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) garnered 32.58 percent of the vote and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) received 9.37 percent of the vote.
Polls across New York State close at 9 p.m. Tuesday night, with voters deciding in a mix of primaries for local office, state assembly and senate, Congress and for president.
Campaigns were forced to re-imagine their ground game as the COVID-19 pandemic suspended what many in political science consider the lifeblood of a successful candidacy: person-to-person interaction. Candidates resorted to virtual town-halls and phone calls to sure-up support, reinventing the landscape of modern campaigns just months before elections.
The Sun will update this page throughout the night as results come for local races, including state assembly, district attorney and president.
Board of Elections: Initial Results Expected by 10:30 p.m., but Final Calls Could Be Weeks Away
According to the Tompkins County Board of Elections, primary results from those who have voted in-person will be reported by 10:30 p.m. — but a significant surge in mail-in voting means that many ballots will not be finalized until well after election night.
New York State traditionally has only allowed absentee voting for those who showed they could not otherwise be present at their polling site. But amid coronavirus concerns and a shortage of poll workers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) issued a series of executive orders that dramatically expanded absentee balloting— an April 24 measure required county Board of Elections to mail absentee ballot applications to all active and inactive voters. By citing “temporary illness,” all voters — including those not sick — could vote by mail.
So far, the Tompkins BOE has received nearly 10 times more absentee ballots compared to the 2018 midterm election primary: the County sent voters 11,761 ballots and has so far received about 6,500 as of noon, the Ithaca Voice reported. In the 2018 primary, the county wrapped up Election Day with less than 700 absentee ballots in its possession.
According to county BOE Commissioner Stephen DeWitt, the board has until June 30 to begin counting absentee ballots, which first have to be parsed in order to ensure that all voters have only submitted one ballot. The massive uptick in votes that won’t be counted until later in the week means that election night results could differ substantially from the races’ ultimate outcomes.
Democratic Candidates for New York Assembly’s 125th District Locked in Crowded Primary
The race to succeed retiring Assemblymember Barbara Lifton (D-N.Y.), who has represented Ithaca in the State Assembly since 2003, attracted a packed slate of contenders that has so far produced no clear front-runners.
In the race are former Lifton office staff member Jordan A. Lesser ’03, Tompkins County Legislator Anna Kelles (D-2nd District), Cortland County legislator Beau Harbin (D-2nd District), Dryden Town Supervisor Jason Leifer, Cornell Prof. Sujata Gibson, law, Ithaca Common Council Alderperson Seph Murtagh Ph.D. ’09 (D-2nd Ward) and Lisa W. Hoeschele, executive director of Family and Children’s Counseling Services.
Over the course of the campaign, most of the candidates have expressed similar opinions at debates — with all largely agreeing on the need for major police reform, a Green New Deal and other hot-button issues. One of the few points of policy contention throughout the campaign season came from Gibson’s skepticism of immunization mandates and her support for the defunding of the police –– a rapidly growing movement nationally.
As a result, the race has largely stressed background over policy disagreement.
Lifton delivered what was perhaps the election cycle’s most important endorsement when she announced official support for Jordan Lesser, one of two former staff members in her office –– the other is Murtagh. Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 endorsed Murtaugh in late February,
District Attorney Contenders Go Head-to-Head in Contentious 2016 Reprise
The two-way primary for Tompkins County District Attorney is on the ballot Tuesday, marking the end of a fiery campaign season in which incumbent District Attorney Mattew Van Houten is attempting to best second-time challenger Edward Kopko.
Running for his second term, Van Houten repeatedly touted his record. Since taking office in 2017, he worked on numerous progressive initiatives, including finding alternatives to incarceration such as felony and drug treatment court and the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program, a program that allows officers to divert individuals who otherwise would be charged with offenses to rehabilitation services as opposed to arrests.
Van Houten has been endorsed by more than 40 local attorneys who claimed his extensive trial experience and usage of alternatives to incarceration are characteristics of a good District Attorney.
Kopko grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska, and attended the University of Alaska and Syracuse University College of Law. He served as a police officer in Fairbanks and later was the Judge Advocate General Corp in the U.S. Navy. After, he worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Pennsylvania. Kopko has resided in Ithaca since 1999 and has worked on a plethora of civil rights and police misconduct cases. He runs a civil rights law firm based in Ithaca.
Kopko criticized Van Houten for not personally prosecuting police misconduct due to what Kopko called law enforcement’s “improper influence” on Van Houten. Van Houten had recused himself in several cases involving police officers –– he believes a D.A.’s office has too close of a relationship with local police departments to investigate them. Instead, he favors the use of a special prosecutor in cases of police misconduct.
Read more about the two candidates here.
As Voters Head to the Polls, Uncontested Candidates Turn Towards General Election
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) moved to cancel primaries for some races, a decision that drew uproar after the state Board of Elections decided to unilaterally ax New York’s Democratic presidential primary.
But while the presidential primary was ultimately reinstated by a federal court— giving dropped-out Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) a chance to possibly pick up additional delegates ahead of the Democratic convention — uncontested congressional candidates Tracy Mitrano and Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), along with New York State Senate contenders Sen. Tom O’Mara (R-N.Y.) and Leslie Danks Burke, will not appear on the primary ballot.
Mitrano and Danks Burke, both second-time candidates, head into their respective general elections as decided underdogs.
Mitrano last attempted to unseat the incumbent Reed two years ago, but came up several points short, despite running in a strong election season for Democrats nationwide. Although Tompkins County is one of New York’s strongest progressive strongholds, New York’s 23rd congressional district also includes broad swathes of rural, Western New York — areas in which President Donald Trump’s Republican Party has enjoyed particular popularity. According to Federal Election Commission filings, the Reed campaign has so far outraised Mitrano’s by a factor of four.
Danks Burke last squared off against O’Mara — whose 58th State Senate district also extends well beyond favorable Ithaca territory — in 2016, a race in which she lost by nine percentage points. In 2018, O’Mara, who has represented Tompkins County in the state Senate since 2010, dispatched his Democratic opponent by an even greater margin of almost 20 points.
Editor’s note: Amanda Cronin ’21, a Senior Editor for The Sun, is a field organizer for Evelyn Farkas, a candidate in the NY-17 Democratic Primary. Cronin was also on the ballot in Tompkins County as a delegate for Elizabeth Warren. Cronin was not involved in The Sun’s election night coverage.