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Newcomer Mamdani Beats Incumbent Simotas for Astoria Assembly Seat

Zohran Mamdani (L) and Aravella Simotas (R) (Source: Respective Campaigns)

July 22, 2020 By Allie Griffin

Progressive newcomer and housing counselor Zohran Mamdani has beaten incumbent Aravella Simotas in a close Democratic primary to represent Astoria in the State Assembly.

Simotas — who was first elected in 2010 — conceded to the first-time candidate and Democratic Socialists of America member today.

“I congratulate @ZohranKMamdani for his win and a well-run election,” Simotas tweeted. “I wish you the best as you begin your legislative career and fight for the 36th Assembly District.”

Mamdani led Simotas by 589 in-person votes on the night of the June 23 election. Mamdani took about 54 percent of the vote to Simotas’ 46 percent, according to the unofficial results.

However, an unprecedented number of absentee ballots cast in this year’s primary slowed down the official count.

The Board of Elections tallied absentee votes today, but has yet to release any of the numbers publicly.

Mamdani was at Queens Borough Hall today to check in on the count. He announced that his own campaign’s tally puts him in the lead by more than 300 votes.

“Based on our internal tally, we finished ahead by over 300 votes – more than enough to avoid a recount & ensure our victory,” he tweeted. “Socialism won.”

“I’m honored and humbled by the trust placed in me by the voters of Astoria,” Mamdani said in a statement.

Mamdani’s win is yet another example of the rising success of progressive candidates in Queens, catapulted in 2018 by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory over Joseph Crowley in the primary for the 14th Congressional District.

Mamdani rallied against the “Queens Machine” Democratic party establishment in his victory statement.

“They had money, but we had people. They had a machine, but we had a movement,” he said. “And that’s why today, we won.”

The Indian-Ugandan New Yorker said his campaign advocated for Muslim and South Asian communities in Astoria and inspired them to register to vote.

“They deserve someone who not only knows the challenges they face, because they come from that community, but someone who’s willing to stand up for them in Albany too.”

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Aravella Simotas

Respectfully, I understand and can relate to the needs of working class families. I am proud that I spent 10 years in the NYS Assembly fighting for them. My record speaks for itself.

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Hasta luego mi amigos

And more people will continue to flee this city. In the process 0f putting my apartment for sale. ADIOS!

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