(Editor’s Note: This is the first in an occasional series examining voting patterns in the recent Democratic Party primary election, which determined the nominee for the 65th Assembly District seat. Each installment in this series will look at a separate Lower Manhattan neighborhood. This installment focuses on Battery Park City.)
The 65th Assembly District stretches from the Battery to Vesey Street on the West Side and jigsaws just above Houston Street on the East Side. This catchment includes the southern half of Battery Park City as well as all of the Financial District, the South Street Seaport, the Civic Center, and the Two Bridges neighborhoods. It also encompasses the areas of the Lower East Side surrounding Grand Street and Seward Park, portions of Little Italy and Chinatown, and a sliver of the East Village.
There were six candidates in the recent campaign to secure the Democratic Party nomination to run in November for the 65th Assembly District seat. The September 13 primary was won by Financial District resident Yuh-Line Niou with 2,790 throughout the district. She was followed by Battery Park City resident Jenifer Rajkumar, with 1,701 votes, and Lower East Side resident Paul Newell, who garnered 1,425 votes. The incumbent, Alice Cancel (who also lives on the Lower East Side), took 1,108 votes, while Battery Park City resident Don Lee won 995 votes. Gigi Li, the former chair of Community Board 3, received 844 votes.
The City’s Board of Elections calculates that there are slightly more than 43,000 registered Democrats in the 65th Assembly district, which means that overall turnout was just over 20 percent. In Battery Park City, according to the State Board of Elections, there are 2,231 residents registered as Democrats and eligible to vote. Of these, 553 turned out for the September 13 primary, which translates into a local participation rate of 24.8 percent.
Battery Park City is divided into six local precincts, also called election districts. Of the 553 votes cast in Battery Park City, Ms. Rakumar was the winner, with 276 votes (or almost half of those cast locally), more than doubling the count for Ms. Niou, who tallied 105 votes (or about 19 percent of Battery Park City votes). She was followed by Mr. Newell, with 95 ballots (17 percent). Ms. Li garnered 35 votes in Battery Park City (6.3 percent), while Ms. Lee totaled 32 (5.7 percent), and Ms. Cancel took ten votes (or 1.8 percent).
But Ms. Rajkumar’s strong local showing, with 49 percent of the local vote) was offset by the fact that she was especially reliant on Battery Park City, which contributed 16 percent of the votes she tallied across the entire district. For Ms. Niou, by contrast, Battery Park City accounted for less than four percent of the total number of votes she garnered, district-wide.
Mr. Lee seems to have leaned on strength outside Battery Park City in a similar fashion. Of all the votes he tallied across the district, slightly more than 96 percent came from outside the community in which he lives.
Mr. Newell derived approximately seven percent of his district-wide support came from Battery Park City. But Ms. Li polled in comparative percentages similar to those of Ms. Niou and Mr. Lee: Votes from Battery Park City comprised just under four percent of her total support throughout Lower Manhattan. Least dependent on Battery Park City was Ms. Cancel, who obtained from Battery Park City less than one percent of her overall vote total.
Denied the Democratic Party nomination, Ms. Cancel is reportedly considering running under the banner of a third party in the November 8 general election. In this contest, Ms. Niou will face voters as the Democratic standard-bearer. But in practical terms, the heavily “blue” landscape of Lower Manhattan makes the nod of the Democratic party tantamount to winning the wider contest, and usually relegates the actual election to the status of a formality.