June 24, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Progressive newcomer Zohran Mamdani is leading incumbent Aravella Simotas in a close race to represent Astoria in the state Assembly.
Mamdani has taken roughly 54 percent of votes, while Simotas has secured 46 percent, in the race to represent the 36th District in the Assembly — with 91 percent of scanners reported, according to the NYC Board of Elections unofficial results at 6:15 a.m. Wednesday.
However, an unprecedented amount of absentee ballots — yet to be counted — could potentially sway the race. The BOE will begin counting absentee ballots by hand after June 30.
Tonight’s unofficial results are gathered from in-person ballots cast Tuesday and during early voting.
Mamdani, a housing counselor and Indian-Ugandan New Yorker, had a 589 vote lead as of 6:15 a.m.
We’ll have to wait to see if our lead holds.
But to be leading even amidst a global pandemic makes it clear: another world really is possible.
Together, we can tax the rich, heal the sick, house the poor, defund the police & build a socialist New York.
— Zohran Kwame Mamdani (@ZohranKMamdani) June 24, 2020
The challenger is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, which has gained increasing power in the borough — most notably with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 2018 victory over longtime incumbent Joe Crowley.
If the absentee ballots are favorable to the insurgent, Mamdani would become another illustration of the rising success of progressive candidates in Queens.
He was endorsed by DSA members and progressive leaders, including Brooklyn State Senator Julia Salazar and Tiffany Cabán, who nearly became Queens District Attorney.
However, Simotas, a former lawyer, has a strong progressive record herself on topics like housing, healthcare and women’s issues.
The Astoria native was elected to the State Assembly in 2010 when she became the first woman to represent District 36.