There is a primary election today for the Independence Party line in a Hudson Valley congressional district, part of a rematch between contenders in the 2012 election.
Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney unseated freshman Republican Nan Hayworth in 2012, in a close race in what was then a newly drawn 18th congressional district. Paul Basinski, a political science professor at Orange County Community College, notes that roughly 9,000 votes made the difference, and a third-party line this time around could help.
“In an exceptionally close race, then that endorsement could be important. I’m not going to go as far as to say critical, but it certainly could be significant,” says Basinski. “The party, that minor party, has 22,000 members, so you’d have to have significant turnout.”
Significant turnout is not expected, though both campaigns have been doing their part to garner the Independence Party vote. Hayworth, who resides in Bedford in Westchester County, has been out and about at the polls today. She says voter turnout is light.
“I do think we stand an excellent chance of winning if all our friends get out to vote and that’s one of the reasons it’s so important,” says Hayworth. “We’ve had all kind of folks, all kinds of conversations, and folks have been telling me today that they’re with me on jobs, they’re with me on the economy; they want to see an economy that works for everyone.”
Maloney, who today is casting votes in Washington, speaks to the primary.
“Well, it’s important and it’s a great fit for my record,” says Maloney. “If you look at the Congressional Quarterly rankings, the nonpartisan Congressional Quarterly rankings, I’m the seventh most Independent Democrat in the House.”
He cites his ability to work across the aisle, both in Congress as well with state and local elected officials. Maloney, who lives in Cold Spring in Putnam County, underscores the significance of the Independence Party line.
“I believe it’s important. I believe it’s important because it says something about the kind of work I’ve been doing in Washington,” says Maloney. “And I think it’s part of the puzzle for a win in November.”
“What I have dedicated myself to is getting results and leaving this political game for others,” Maloney says. “And I think that’s what Independence Party members really care about. They care about results over politics. They care about working with people and getting things done and getting away from all this fighting and bickering and political game playing in Washington. And I’ve got a record that I’m proud of and I think that we’re going to do very well today in the primary.”
When asked about the importance of securing the Independence Party line, Hayworth replies:
“Well, I take every aspect of the election very seriously, Allison, as you can imagine, so it’s been a great opportunity to reach out specifically to folks in the Independence Party,” Hayworth says. “And we have friends from all across the spectrum who are working with us on this election, so I’m excited about our prospects. And this is one more step toward the general election and we are working steadily every day toward that goal as well.”
In addition to having secured their main party lines, Maloney has the Working Families Party line while Hayworth has the Conservative Party line. Again, political scientist Paul Basinski.
“Normally, third parties have not tipped the balance of power in a number of elections because of the strength of the Republican and Democratic Parties, major parties in New York State,” Basinski says. “But stuff happens, and I think that makes for just a little more drama in this rather unusually timed and, indeed, open primary, as the Independence Party has chosen it to be.”
The Independence Party neither held a primary in 2012 nor endorsed Hayworth or Maloney.
“I think the timing is important as well because we just entered the summer season,” says Basinski. “It is not a time, as I might have noted earlier, when voters are particularly engaged by the political process. They’re more engaged by making sure they’ve got hotel reservations down at the Jersey shore but, we’ll see.”
He says fundraising efforts are likely more important than securing a third-party line. The 18th congressional district covers all of Orange and Putnam counties and parts of Dutchess and Westchester Counties. Polls close at 9 tonight.