BY THE VILLAGE SUN | He might not have the name recognition of some of the frontrunners but Aaron Foldenauer owns the top spot on the ballot in the June 22 Democratic mayoral primary.
Foldenauer, a Tribeca attorney, lucked out when the Board of Elections held a random draw five days ago for candidates’ ballot positions. A Bingo-style, hand-cranked spinner was used and Foldenauer drew the No. 2 ball. Ironically, Andrew Yang, the frontrunner, got the No. 73 ball and so will be listed last on the Democratic mayoral ballot.
The candidates in the primary will be listed vertically, not from left to right as in a general election.
The order will be:
- Aaron Foldenauer
- Dianne Morales
- Scott Stringer
- Raymond McGuire
- Maya Wiley
- Paperboy Love Prince
- Art Chang
- Kathryn Garcia
- Eric Adams
- Isaac Wright Jr.
- Shaun Donovan
- Andrew Yang
“This is a significant win for our campaign to revitalize New York City,” Foldenauer said. “The list of candidates in the race for mayor is a veritable phone book. Thus, winning the top ballot position is a huge deal.
“Most success in life is a combination of hard work and luck,” Foldenauer said. “Without spending a single dime, my grassroots organization obtained 8,752 signatures to get me on the ballot, a total on par with the other leading candidates. Now that my name will appear on top of the ballot, we are in the race to win.”
When old-fashioned lever voting machines were used, the Board of Elections rotated the order of candidates across different election districts, so as to ensure fairness. However, when the Board of Elections switched to paper ballots, a random draw now determines the candidate order across the city.
Foldenauer said he’s actually counting on voters not being very informed about the race, which could play to his advantage.
“Most residents are low-information voters who have little idea as to the candidate they will select,” he noted. “There are still nine weeks to go until Election Day, which is an eternity in politics. In fact, every poll so far shows that the majority of voters are undecided in the race for mayor. Many voters will naturally gravitate to the first candidate listed on the ballot, and I’m honored to be that top candidate for mayor.
“Now, I am at the top of the ticket, and on a convoluted ranked-choice ballot at that,” he said. “For anyone who says that ballot position doesn’t matter, I have a bridge to sell them that spans the East River.”
Veteran political strategist Hank Sheinkopf agreed that Foldenauer’s nabbing the top spot is definitely a plus, especially given that this election will be the first with ranked-choice voting.
“It is a big advantage,” he said. “It gives him the capacity to get noticed in a very crowded field. Will it make him the mayor? I wouldn’t hock the house on that one.”
As for Yang’s landing the bottom ballot line, Sheinkopf said, “He’s going to have to hope he can turn that into something useful.”
However, the veteran politico said the city’s shifting demographics favor a candidate like Yang.
“The general demographic shift in the city is younger and whiter,” he said. “Young people, if they turn out, they’re going to vote for Andrew Yang probably. We haven’t had a mayor elected under 50 since Rudy Giuliani.”
In short, he said, people tend to vote for candidates who are closer in age to their own generation.
Outside the phenomenon of Bernie Sanders, whose positions resonate with younger votes, Sheinkopf observed, “There is no Tony Bennett of politics.”
As for Foldenauer, top ballot spot or not, his name is still mud in Downtown political circles for helping thwart what could have been a historic upset four years ago. Foldenauer finished third in the four-way Council District 1 primary race in 2017 that saw incumbent Margaret Chin narrowly fend off upstart Christopher Marte. Chin got 46 percent of the vote to Marte’s 44 percent. The slim difference — 222 votes — was less than the 734 votes Foldenauer won. As a result, Foldenauer, along with Dashia Imperiale, who came in fourth, were viewed as spoilers, allowing Chin to win reelection to a third term.
Yet, Foldenauer claimed his candidacy actually helped Marte by protecting him from a one-on-one slugfest with Chin.
In other races on the ballot on June 22, in the nine-person Democratic primary in Lower Manhattan’s City Council District 1, Christopher Marte got the No. 1 ball and so got the top ballot position. Chinatown District Leader Jenny Low got the low spot after drawing ball No. 62.
In the two-person primary in the Second Council District (East Village/Union Square/Gramercy/Kips Bay) Erin Hussein will have the top spot over incumbent Carlina Rivera.
In the six-person contest for the Third Council District (Greenwich Village/Chelsea/Hell’s Kitchen), Erik Bottcher, seen by many as the frontrunner, drew ball No. 68, the low ball. The ballot order will be:
- Aleta LaFargue
- Arthur Schwartz
- Phelan Dante Fitzpatrick
- Marni Halasa
- Leslie Boghosian Murphy
- Erik Bottcher