Primary Them Out by Tom Reynolds
Joe Crowley was a 23 year N.Y. City Democratic incumbent Congressman on the short list to replace Nancy Pelosi as U.S. House Speaker. In 2016, he was reelected with 147,000 votes, 83% of the total votes cast. In 2018, he was defeated by Alexandria Octavio-Cortez in the Democrat primary; she won with less than 17,000 votes, 11% of the votes Crowley got in 2016.
Felix Ortiz is a 26 year Democrat incumbent Assemblyman from N.Y. City who currently serves as Assistant Speaker of the Assembly. In 2018, he won reelection, unopposed, with 20,738 votes. In 2020, he was defeated in the Democrat primary by Marcela Mitaynes who got 3,591 votes and won by 272 votes. Mitaynes got a mere 17% of the votes Ortiz received in 2018.
This data suggests that even the most entrenched incumbent in vulnerable to being beaten in a primary by a narrow but motivated electorate. All the voters have to do is show up in decent numbers, as it often takes less than 20% of the previous votes cast to defeat the incumbent.
The data also shows this is one way the radical element of the Democrat Party is taking over. (Mitaynes could be described as a Democratic Socialist and some would say A O-C is probably best described as an insane Socialist.) As the saying goes, 75% of life is just showing up and people rabid for power will show up while those that hate politics or are indifferent will stay home and then ask, “wha’ happened”.
In New York, one must be registered in a party in order to vote in that party’s primary. In most election districts, a quarter of the registered voters do not register in any party. Since ours is essentially a two party system, those who register in a non-major political party, that has little chance of a creditable showing, are eliminating themselves from selecting those who will represent them; only the two major party candidates win major elections.
Shouldn’t Democrats be concerned about the radical left movement of their party? Shouldn’t Republicans care about Republican legislators without real commitment to basic Republican principles? What might we do about it? Thought: primary them out of office. As we have seen, it will take far less votes to defeat them in a primary than in a general election.
It’s not easy to primary an incumbent, as the party organization usually sides with the incumbent who has name recognition and resources. Non incumbents are a bit easier to primary but the party elite often pick their favorite early in the process and throw the party’s weight behind the choice. But primary upsets do happen, as we’ve seen, if a motivated electorate arises.
But first, you have to be registered in one of the two parties that count in our system. To be eligible to vote in next year’s primary, you must be registered as a member of that party. The rules for registering are a bit complex as to deadlines so it is best to register (or reregister) in a party as soon as possible.
If you are not registered in any party, you may like being labelled “independent”, but you are losing your chance to pick the candidates. Consider registering in a major party, preferably one most in tune with your concerns which, hopefully, includes protecting the Second Amendment. If you are registered in a minor party, think about why you are registered in that party. Is it because you believe in that party or is it a protest against the major parties? I know this is difficult for some people but, if you are just protesting, consider reregistering in a major party. Your party registration does not prevent you from voting for the candidate of your choice in the general election but you will have a voice in selecting one of the two candidates that will likely poll significant votes.
It seems safe to say that this message about primary voting is definitely not approved by incumbents of either major party.