After a delayed nominating process, the Westchester County Democratic Party announced today that state Sen. George Latimer has secured the party’s official backing in the county executive race this fall. Latimer, if the party’s leaders have their way, will now go on to challenge two-term, incumbent County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican
Two days after county Democratic officials held a nearly six-hour-long convention on Wednesday, May 10, to nominate its slate of candidates for the November election, party leaders reconvened on Friday, May 12 at county Board of Elections headquarters in White Plains to count the votes between Latimer and county Legislator Ken Jenkins, of Yonkers.
Latimer, 63, who announced his candidacy in April, received 71 percent of the convention vote of local committee district leaders to Jenkins 29 percent. After handily securing his party’s backing, Latimer reflected on previous campaign challenges, and honed in on uniting the Democratic Party, a message he also focused on during his convention speech.
“Through all of those things, I’ve persevered; and I’m going to continue persevere and look forward to November,” Latimer, from Rye, told the Review after officially receiving the nomination. “Amongst Democrats, we’re all brothers even if we disagree.”
But which Democrat will ultimately run against Astorino in November likely remains undecided at this point, as Jenkins all but confirmed that he plans to primary Latimer for the right to represent Democrats in the general election.
Jenkins, 55, has consistently called for the registered Democratic voters of Westchester to be have their say instead of party officials through the normal nominating process. Jenkins has said since he entered the race in August 2016 that he would take the nomination to a primary election if he did not get the party’s backing after the convention.
“The convention is not at all a reflection of everyday Americans, of everyday voters,” he said in a statement before the votes were tallied. “And if we have learned anything from the Trump era, it’s that all Democrats should be involved—not less.”
In keeping with that sentiment, Jenkins and his campaign did not attend the vote count on Friday afternoon. Instead, they were out talking to Democratic voters, who, he said, were disenfranchised by the nominating process.
To cue a primary, Jenkins would have to collect 2,000 signatures of registered county Democrats and submit them to the county Board of Elections by July 13.
He opted to forego that route in his previous bid for county executive in 2013, bowing out after he lost a close vote at the convention to New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, who was easily defeated by Astorino.
Both Jenkins and Latimer have acknowledged that a venture to unseat Astorino would be an uphill battle.
Although Westchester’s registered Democrats is more than double its Republican counterparts, Astorino has been able to keep a firm grasp on his office since he winning election to it in 2009. During the convention, both candidates tried to rally Democratic voters to get engaged in the electoral process, challenging Astorino on his feud with the federal government over affordable housing and drawing connections between the county executive and President Donald Trump. And each candidate emphasized that the party would have to unite and mobilize to beat the well-financed Astorino, who had raised more than $2.5 million in his campaign finances as of January. The next campaign disclosure filing is not required until July.
Bill O’Reilly, campaign manager for Astorino, said, “We wish George and Ken well in their primary, and look forward to debating the winner in the fall.”
The primary election is set for Sept. 12, with the winner taking on Astorino on Election Day, Nov. 7.