A Look at New York’s Top Races of Election 2020 – NBC New York

What to Know

  • Polls closed at 9 p.m. Tuesday, but with a record number of votes cast by mail, the hottest races could take weeks to decide
  • Republican Nicole Malliotakis tries to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Max Rose, who is seeking his second term
  • A pair of candidates who could make history as the first two openly gay Black men elected to Congress

New Yorkers have cast their votes for representatives in Congress, the state Legislature and the White House after a campaign season that unfolded amid the coronavirus pandemic and unrest over racial injustice.

Democrat Joe Biden won the presidential race in New York, taking the state’s 29 Electoral College votes in a widely expected result for the blue state.

The Associated Press called the race for Biden immediately after polls closed at 9 p.m. Tuesday. With a record number of votes expected to be cast by mail, more closely contested races could take weeks to decide. In some of those races, there is no guarantee that leads held at the end of election night will stand up when absentee ballots are opened and counted days from now.

Voters had to wait more than a month to know the winners in some races in the state’s June primary.

The weakened state of the Republican Party in the New York City metropolitan area, however, is setting up Democrats for some expected easy victories, including a pair of candidates who could make history as the first two openly gay Black men elected to Congress.

Democrats could also potentially gain a supermajority in the state Legislature. A victory like that wouldn’t alter the balance of power in a state where Democrats already control the governor’s office. It could, however, give legislators more leverage with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is now a monolithic force in state politics.

Here’s a look at New York’s most closely-watched races:


Republican U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin appeared to successfully fend off a challenge on eastern Long Island from Democrat Nancy Goroff with 99% of the votes reported. Zeldin late Tuesday thanked voters for coming out and said he was “up by our largest margin” but didn’t really claim victory with more than 60,000 votes over Goroff. The victory would be Zeldin’s fourth term. He has praised President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as “phenomenal” during a speech to the Republican National Convention. Goroff is a chemistry professor who took a leave from Stony Brook University to seek elective office for the first time.



Republican Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino and Democrat Jackie Gordon face off in a race to succeed U.S. Rep. Pete King, a popular Republican who is retiring. The Long Island’s South Shore district has tilted Republican in the past, but King’s departure has created an opening for the Democrats, who have poured money into Gordon’s campaign. With 94% of votes reported, Garbarino has a big lead over Gordon.


You’ve likely seen the political ads. One of the races to watch is right in our backyard but it sounds more like a street fight than a campaign. Democratic Representative Max Rose and GOP State Assemblywoman Nicole Maliotakis are fighting for the one swing congressional district in the city. As the election project’s Melissa Russo shows us it’s the swings and jabs in the ads that are catching voters’ attention for better or worse.


First-term Democrat Max Rose is in a tough fight in a battleground district that includes all of Staten Island and a slice of Brooklyn.

Early returns showed him trailing to Republican challenger Nicole Malliotakis, a member of the state Assembly who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2017.

The Associated Press has not yet declared a winner in the race, but Malliotakis declared victory a little over an hour after polls closed.

“I need to thank President Trump for his strong support and endorsement,” she told cheering supporters. “Today Staten Island and Southern Brooklyn sent a loud and clear message. And that message will resonate from the halls of City Hall to the halls of Congress.”

Rose said it was too early to declare a winner.



U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be returning to Congress for a second term.

The New York City Democrat on Tuesday defeated Republican John Cummings, a teacher and former police officer.

Ocasio-Cortez has become one of the most well-known voices of the American left in her first term.

She was a lead sponsor of the Green New Deal, a proposal to have the federal government mobilize a massive effort to wean the nation from fossil fuels and invest in zero-emission transportation. She’s agitated with members of her own party to support universal health care, a higher minimum wage, cancellation of student debt and abolition of immigration enforcement.

Ocasio-Cortez has also become a target of constant criticism from the right, demonized frequently by conservative talk show hosts as the socialist future of the Democratic Party.

Ocasio-Cortez’s 14th Congressional District in Queens and the Bronx was among the places hit hardest in the city by the coronavirus.



Democratic New York City Councilmember Ritchie Torres was elected to represent the South Bronx in Congress, and is now poised to be among the first openly gay Black men in the Legislature.

Torres, who identifies as Afro-Latino, defeated Republican Patrick Delices on Tuesday.

Torres, 32, will be taking the seat in New York’s 15th Congressional District currently held by U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano, who is retiring.

The district is one of the most heavily Democratic in the county. Torres had a more difficult race in the Democratic primary, when he faced off with 11 other candidates.

Torres grew up in public housing with two siblings, raised by a single mother. He was elected to the City Council in 2013, at the age of 25.



Jamaal Bowman, an antiestablishment liberal who defeated a long-term incumbent in the Democratic primary, has been elected to Congress.

Bowman defeated Conservative Party candidate Patrick McManus, a retired firefighter, in a district that includes parts of the Bronx and New York City’s Westchester County suburbs.

There was no Republican candidate.

The 44-year-old Bowman set the stage for his election victory with a stunning primary win over U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Engel has been in Congress since 1989.

During the campaign, Bowman spoke about growing up Black in public housing, being beaten by police officers at age 11, becoming a teacher and then a principal deeply involved in education reform.

Bowman’s insurgent campaign against Engel was launched with the help of Justice Democrats, the same left-leaning group that helped power U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to a victory over another powerful incumbent in 2018.

New York’s 16th Congressional District is just to the north of the one represented by Ocasio-Cortez, who was just reelected to a second term.


Mondaire Jones, the Democratic candidate for New York’s 17th Congressional District, poses outside his home in Nyack, New York, July 23, 2020. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)


Democrat Mondaire Jones would join Torres as the other first openly gay Black man in Congress if he prevails over opponents including Republican Maureen McArdle Schulman and Conservative Party candidate Yehudis Gottesfeld. Jones is a 33-year-old attorney. The winner in the race will succeed U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, a Democrat retiring after more than three decades representing a district in Rockland and Westchester counties.



Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney faces Republican Chele Farley in a battleground district in New York’s Hudson Valley. Farley moved to the district from New York City after an unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate in 2018. Maloney is one of just a few dozen Democrats nationwide who represent congressional districts where a majority of voters favored Trump in 2016. He is seeking his fifth term. With 99% reporting, Maloney has a small 1% lead but it’s too close to call.



Military veteran Kyle Van De Water, a Republican, tries to knock off Democratic U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, who is seeking a second term in a district stretching from New York City’s northern suburbs to rural counties near Albany. Delgado is another rare Democrat representing a congressional district that voted for Trump in 2016. Van De Water, 40, has run on a pro-Trump platform. He has promised a stronger U.S. border, tax cuts and 2nd Amendment protections. With 95% reporting, Delgado holds a small lead.


More than two-thirds of American say that the election is a significant source of stress, up from 2016 when just over half responded similarly. NBC New York’s Gus Rosendale reports.


Former Republican U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney is in a rematch with U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi, who ousted her from office in 2018 but is now seen as one of the more vulnerable Democrats in Congress. The district, which runs from Lake Ontario to the border with Northeastern Pennsylvania, was another one in New York that favored Trump in 2016. The first contest between the candidates two years ago took weeks to decide as absentee ballots were tabulated.



U.S. Rep. John Katko is also in a rematch, facing Democrat Dana Balter after defeating her in 2018. Katko seeks a fourth term in a central New York district that includes the city of Syracuse. Balter, 44, has worked as a community organizer and at a disability services non-profit but has not held public office. Democrats narrowly outnumber Republicans in the district.



In western New York, Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Jacobs faces a challenge from Democrat Nate McMurray, the same candidate he beat in a special election five months ago. Jacobs won a special election in June to serve out the remainder of the term of fellow Republican Chris Collins, who was convicted of insider trading. McMurray is an attorney and former town supervisor. He also challenged Collins and lost in 2018.