State Sen. Eric Schneiderman easily fended off a challenge in which his religion was made an issue in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for a Senate district that includes parts of Upper Manhattan and the Bronx.
But another politician who often touted his Jewishness lost a five-way primary for a newly created Senate seat in Brooklyn.
Noach Dear, who was forced to give up his City Council seat last year because of term limits, finished second with 29 percent of the vote. Kevin Parker, an aide to state Comptroller H. Carl McCall, won with 35 percent. Another Jewish candidate, Lori Citron Knipel, finished last with 16 percent.
Parker, an African American, emerged in a largely African American district. Dear had argued that his 20 years as a legislator made him the most qualified for the job.
Schneiderman, whose district was reconfigured by Senate Republicans to favor a Latino candidate, defeated former City Councilman Guillermo Linares. Linares had the endorsement of Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Supporters of Linares had pointed out via the Spanish-language media that Linares is a native Dominican while Schneiderman is Jewish. An editorial in a newspaper for livery cab drivers referred to him as "the Jew Schneiderman." Linares denounced the comments.
But in an election that saw virtually all incumbents renominated, even running against well-known opponents, Schneiderman received 67 percent of the vote.
In Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, Adele Cohen appeared to be the winner in a heated Democratic race for her Assembly seat, although challenger Susan Lasher did not concede Tuesday.
Lasher, who was backed heavily by Russian immigrants, said Cohen led by only 197 votes, with hundreds of paper ballots to be counted. Lasher said there was widespread confusion among immigrant voters because redistricting had resulted in changed polling places.
In Queens, incumbent Toby Ann Stavisky beat Julia Harrison, 60 percent to 40 percent, in the Democratic primary for a merged Senate district.
On the Upper West Side, Danny O’Donnell prevailed in a crowded field for the Democratic nomination to succeed Ed Sullivan, who is retiring.
On Staten Island, Assemblyman Robert Straniere is on track to retain his seat after beating challenger David Mercaldo in a Republican primary. And in Crown Heights, Clarence Norman warded off a challenge by Sandra Roper.
In statewide races, former city Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who finished last in the 2001 Democratic primary for mayor, trounced his well-financed opponent for state comptroller, Westchester businessman Bill Mulrow. Hevesi received 63 percent of the vote.
Mulrow had hoped to cash in on a heavy African-American turnout for McCall’s gubernatorial bid by mailing out fliers with himself and Rev. Al Sharpton, but the Democratic turnout was diminished severely by the lack of a primary at the top of the ticket. Andrew Cuomo had withdrawn last week from the governor’s race. Officials estimated the turnout at 10 to 12 percent of eligible voters.
Hevesi faces Republican John Faso, a former Assemblyman from upstate Kinderhook, in the general election in November.
In good news for McCall, Gov. George Pataki lost his bid for the Independence Party nomination to Thomas Golisano, making the gubernatorial race a three-way contest. Golisano is seen as likely to draw conservative votes from Pataki, who also will run on the Conservative Party ballot.
The loss makes Pataki’s courtship of the Independence line a costly venture. Pataki endured criticism for associating with the controversial activist Lenora Fulani, who controls an influential faction of the party, but ultimately the governor derived no apparent political benefit from the gambit.
Primaries were held in a dozen states Tuesday. Closely watched races outside New York included the Republican primary for Senate in New Hampshire. Rep. John Sununu, son of the former White House chief of staff and the only Palestinian American in Congress, unseated two-term incumbent Sen. Bob Smith.
Sununu’s Mideast record in the House was "dismal," according to a leading pro-Israel activist, but the eccentric Smith, who briefly bolted the GOP in 1999 to run for president as an independent, was regarded as a likely loser and pro-Israel contributors generally sat out the race.
Recently there were reports that the pro-Israel lobby had been reaching out to Sununu, who will face Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen. Polls show that the Democrats have a good chance of picking up the seat in November, a boost to their efforts to retain their slim majority in the Senate.
The race took a strange Mideast twist last year when former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared in the state on behalf of Smith.
In Minnesota, Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone will face off against former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman in the November general election after both easily defeated token opposition in Tuesday’s primary.
Wellstone, the most liberal member of the Senate, is regarded as the most vulnerable Senate Democrat. Both candidates are Jewish.