The real estate industry watched nervously Tuesday night to see if moderate Democrats could hold off far-left insurgents in the state’s primary elections. For the most part, they did.
The results will affect how Albany handles key real estate issues next year, including good cause eviction and the potential return of the property tax break 421a.
For that reason, real estate players poured money into attacks against candidates backed by the Democratic Socialists of America and the Working Families Party.
Political action committee Common Sense New York received $250,000 from developer Joseph Cayre, $100,000 from United American Land, $50,000 from Muss Development and $50,000 from Lisa Blau, wife of Related Companies CEO Jeff Blau, according to 2022 filings with the state Board of Elections.
The PAC spent more than $120,000 on mailers and canvassing efforts for Assembly member Nikki Lucas, whose challenger, Keron Alleyne, was backed by the DSA, WFP and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The group, tied to political consultant Jeffrey Leb, also spent $22,000 on canvassing efforts for Assembly member Erik Dilan and more than $17,000 on mailers against his opponent, Samy Nemir Olivares, who was endorsed by both the DSA and WFP.
One such mailer shows Olivares being arrested at a rally in support of good cause eviction, accompanied by the all-caps message: “WARNING! SAMY NEMIR OLIVARES IS SUPPORTED BY THE SOCIALISTS THAT THREATEN PUBLIC SAFETY, DESTROY OUR COMMUNITIES AND RAISE TAXES.”
The winner of that northern Brooklyn race remains unclear. The initial election-night count showed Dilan with a slight lead.
Another PAC tied to Leb, Voters of New York, received $250,000 from Gary Barnett’s Extell Development. An entity tied to Terra Holdings, the parent company of Brown Harris Stevens and Halstead, donated $100,000 and developer Silverstein Properties gave $50,000.
The group spent more than $83,000 on mailers against socialist candidate Sarahana Shrestha, who appears to have ousted Assembly member Kevin Cahill from his seat in the Hudson Valley. It spent another $52,000 on mailers against Vanessa Agudelo, who is also backed by the Democratic Socialists of America and is running for Assembly in Westchester County.
Here is a run-down of the key primaries. The results are not official, but here is where things stand as of Wednesday morning:
Where real estate won:
As expected, Gov. Kathy Hochul beat out Public Advocate Jumaane Willams and Rep. Tom Suozzi for the Democratic nomination. Her running mate, Rep. Antonio Delgado, was also victorious in the lieutenant governor’s race, defeating Ana Maria Archila, who is backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Suozzi’s running mate Diana Reyna, a former City Council member.
Hochul’s easy win, if she can repeat it in the general election, would give her more political capital to enact a replacement for 421a, which she tried and failed to do during this year’s legislative session. She pledged at a Real Estate Board of New York event this month that she would push for “changes to support the industry.”
Williams is a good cause eviction supporter and is hostile to real estate interests on other fronts as well. Suozzi is a moderate who opposes good cause but did oppose Hochul’s industry-friendly proposal on accessory dwelling units, helping to force its withdrawal.
Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin handily secured the Republican nomination. Zeldin has criticized Hochul’s efforts on crime, and has pledged to repeal cashless bail and the Less is More Act, a 2021 measure that, among other things, reduces penalties for certain parole violations.
Should Zeldin win in November, he could be expected to be at least as supportive of industry interests as Hochul is, although a return to two-party government in Albany would add uncertainty to the state’s legislative landscape.
Assembly District 70, Manhattan: Inez Dickens
Common Sense New York spent more than $38,000 on mailers against tenant advocate Delsenia Glover, who had the backing of Ocasio-Cortez and the WFP. Mayor Eric Adams also waded into this race, throwing his support behind Dickens, who campaigned hard against socialism and years ago championed an upzoning of 125th Street in Harlem.
Assembly District 82, Bronx: Michael Benedetto
Benedetto was up against Jonathan Soto, who previously worked for Ocasio-Cortez and had the backing of the WFP.
Assembly District 81, Bronx: Jeffrey Dinowitz
The WFP supported Jessica Altagracia Woolford’s campaign to unseat Dinowitz. Common Sense New York also paid for mailers against Altagracia Woolford.
Assembly District 60, Brooklyn: Nikki Lucas
The DSA, WFP and Ocasio-Cortez had endorsed challenger Keron Alleyne.
Assembly District 32, Queens: Vivian Cook, probably
Cook appears to have fended off a challenge from the WFP’s candidate, Anthony Andrews Jr. The incumbent, who has served in the chamber since 1991, had the backing of party leaders including Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Rep. Gregory Meeks, Attorney General Letitia James and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
Assembly District 65, Manhattan: Grace Lee, probably
Grace Lee is poised to take over the Lower Manhattan seat being vacated by Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou, who is running for Congress. The DSA and WFP endorsed Illapa Sairitupac. Lee is a more moderate Democrat than Niou, so real estate can gain ground here rather than just hold it.
Assembly District 95, Westchester County: Dana Levenberg
Levenberg had faced a challenge from DSA-backed Vanessa Agudelo.
Where real estate lost:
Assembly District 103, Hudson Valley: Sarahana Shrestha
Shrestha, who was supported by the DSA, unseated incumbent Kevin Cahill. Good cause eviction failed to pass statewide but has made inroads in Hudson Valley towns including Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, New Paltz and Hudson.
Assembly Districts 50, 51, 57, Brooklyn: Emily Gallagher, Marcela Mitaynes and Phara Souffrant Forrest
These DSA-backed incumbents all defeated their challengers by wide margins. Mitaynes has opposed market-rate development in Sunset Park and the Industry City rezoning.
Assembly District 66, Manhattan: Deborah Glick
Glick is an outspoken opponent of development in her district, prompting Yimby group Open New York to endorse her opponent. She vehemently opposed the rezoning of Soho and Noho. She also sponsored a bill to impose a pied-à-terre tax, an annual levy on non-primary homes worth $5 million or more.
Still, Glick’s Nimbyism can benefit local landlords by limiting competition for their housing, which has become among the most expensive in the nation. Moreover, her challenger, Ryder Kessler, was backed by the WFP and positioned himself to the left of Glick.
Up in the air
Assembly District 54, Brooklyn: Erik Dilan?
Activist Samy Nemir Olivares, who was endorsed by both the DSA and WFP, was trailing incumbent Erik Dylan by 190 votes Wednesday morning.