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Insurgents win key seats against Democratic Assembly incumbents

Insurgents win key seats against Democratic Assembly incumbents

ALBANY – Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who unleashed hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars to keep his incumbents safe, saw two more of his Democratic colleagues go down to primary defeat on Wednesday.

The results, centered in New York City races, put a number of more left-of-center Democrats into seats in the party that already controls all branches of government in Albany.

Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, who was first elected to the Assembly in 1972, on Wednesday morning conceded defeat to Brooklyn activist Emily Gallagher.

“The voters in the 50th Assembly district voted for change," Lentol said in his concession statement. Lentol is a third generation lawmaker; his grandfather was elected to the Assembly in 1918.

A few hours later, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, a Queens Democrat, gave up in her primary fight against housing counselor Zohran Kwame Mamdani.

Before nightfall, Assemblyman Walter Mosley, a Brooklyn Democrat, conceded his defeat to Phara Souffrant Forrest, a nurse, union activist and Democratic Socialist candidate.

Other incumbents – all backed by Heastie – who lost include Felix Ortiz, first elected in 1994, whose challenger was backed by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Michael Dendekker and Michael Miller from Queens. Some won with backing from the Democratic Socialists of America.

The primary victors – all expected to easily win in general election contests in November – are expected to join with a now-growing number of insurgents who do not owe their immediate political fortunes to Heastie. The Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee last week reported it spent at least $490,000 on behalf of those half-dozen incumbents in a losing effort to defeat their challengers, most of whom are newcomers to politics.

Michael Whyland, a spokesman for Heastie, responded: "The elections are over and right now the Speaker is focused on the large volume of bills that are moving through the Assembly this week. After this week’s work he will be more than happy to talk about the elections."

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