Clarke takes commanding lead in NY Primary Elections

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Though official election results are expected to take much longer than normal to be determined in light of the expansion of absentee voting amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Caribbean American Democratic Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke has taken a commanding lead in Tuesday’s New York Primary Elections.

Facing four challengers, with all of the 532 precincts reporting in the predominantly Caribbean Central Brooklyn 9th Congressional District, the incumbent Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, is way ahead of all contenders in the New York Board of Elections unofficial results.

Clarke, who has been a member of the United States Congress for seven, two-year terms, has amassed 37,106 votes, or 62.3 percent, in the poll.

Her closest challenger, Adem Bunkeddeko — the son of Ugandan refugees, who came just less than 2,000 votes in unseating Clarke in the Democratic Primary two years ago, in a two-way race — was a distant 17.9 percent, or 10,647 votes.

New York City Councilman Chaim Deutsch received  5,622 votes, or 9.4 percent; followed by Isiah James’s   5,576 votes, or 9.4 percent; and Lutchi Gayot’s 605 votes, or 1.0 percent.

Analysts say that even if Bunkeddeko, a Harvard University MBA graduate, does well with the absentee ballots, it is highly unlikely that he will be able to dethrone Clarke, given Clarke’s current, massive 44.4 percentage point advantage.

Election officials said results tabulated Tuesday night did not include absentee ballots.

They also said that winners may not be declared for several days in some races.

Clarke, who ran a robust campaign, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, was ecstatic about her handsome lead.

“I’m exceedingly pleased with the level of political participation in the district and really grateful for the turn out of the voters in support of my reelection,” she told Caribbean Life in an exclusive interview early Wednesday morning. “We’re looking forward to a resounding victory once the results have been qualified.

“I want to thank the people of the 9th District who continue to trust in my leadership,” added Clarke, disclosing that the official results may be given within a week.

Clarke, whose mother is former New York City Council Member Dr. Una S.T. Clarke, said that, over the years, she has worked “tirelessly” to improve the lives of the 9th Congressional District.

Since being elected, the younger Clarke has served as the chair, co-chair and/or founding member of several committees and caucuses, including the Homeland Security Committee, Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, Medicare for All Caucus, Small Business Committee, Congressional Black Caucus Immigration Task Force, Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Vice-Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

“From housing, to immigration reform, education, and healthcare, I am proud of the work I have accomplished on behalf of the 9th District, having effectively represented my constituents while Democrats controlled the House (of Representatives) and when we faced fierce opposition from Republicans at the beginning of my first term,” she said.

“Our current administration (Trump) has made it clear that the American dream should not be accessed by everyone, including our immigrant and undocumented communities,” noted Clarke, stating that she “took action by introducing the ASPIRE Act, a bipartisan solution that would provide relief to all temporary protected status (TPS) eligible individuals, along with the Protect Our Sanctuary Cities Act, a bill that will end Donald Trump’s executive restrictions on sanctuary cities and prohibit the expenditure of funds to enforce these provisions.

“As a devoted public servant, I will continue pressing forward to ensure that America is a fair and just country for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender or religion,” continued the congresswoman, stating that her re-election fight was for “the soul of our democracy.”

Shortly after the polls closed at 9:00 p.m. Tuesday, Bunkeddeko thanked voters and his campaign staff.

“With so many voters casting their ballots by mail, it’s hard to predict when we’ll know the final outcome of this race,” he said in an email message. “But whatever happens, I couldn’t be prouder of the work we’ve put in, and I couldn’t be prouder to be your candidate.

“We’ll keep you posted with any election updates,” he added. “But until then, I hope you’ll keep joining us in our fight for bold ways, not old ways.”

Brooklyn Sen. Roxanne Persaud.

In other races involving Caribbean candidates in Tuesday’s New York Primary Elections, Guyanese-born New York State Sen. Roxanne Persaud retained her seat in the 19th Senatorial District in Brooklyn.

Persaud trounced Keron Alleyne, her lone challenger, in a landslide. With all 242 precincts reporting, Persaud received 15,510 votes, or 74.3 percent, to Alleyne’s 5,373 votes, or 25.7 percent.

“I’m very happy and thankful that the 19th Senatorial District has the confidence in me to send me back for another term,” Persaud, who won the district for the third time, told Caribbean Life soon after the polls closed.

“I am very thankful for the support of the wide cross section of the district, and the support of organizations and representatives,” added Persaud, who was first elected to the district in 2015.

In the 43rd Assembly District, also in Brooklyn, New York State Assembly Member Diana Richardson, the daughter of Aruban and St. Martin immigrants, also won by a landslide.

Richardson defeated her lone challenger, Jesse Hamilton, an African American former New York State Senator, by 43.0 percentage points.

With all 87 precincts reporting, Richardson received 8,885 votes, or 71.6 percent, to Hamilton’s 3,516 votes, or 28.4 percent.

Hamilton was defeated a year ago by New York State Sen. Zellnor Myrie, whose grandmother hailed from Jamaica, in the 20th Senatorial District in Brooklyn.

Richardson said she has co-sponsored a long list of bills to increase police accountability and end police brutality.

“When it comes to protecting our community from Covid-19, I was one of the first electeds (elected officials) to push for increased local Covid-19 testing capacity, and launched food distribution Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday every week,” she said.

“From day one, I’ve been committed to bringing transparency and democracy to elected office, something our politics desperately needs right now,” Richardson added. “As a ‘true blue’ Democrat, with a ‘true blue’ record, I can’t wait to get back to Albany (New York State capital) to keep working for our district.”

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