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Pair of progressives on verge of clinching Assembly seats in western Queens

Queens Assembly races in Districts 30 and 37
Steven Raga (l.) and Juan Ardila (r.) seem to be on their way to victories in the Democratic primary election.

After the polls closed Tuesday night for the June 28 primary election, western Queens voters seemingly decided to send two new progressive leaders to the state Assembly. 

Two incumbents — Assembly members Brian Barnwell (District 30) and Cathy Nolan (District 37) — decided that they would not run again in 2022 after years of service, leaving the two seats wide open.  

In District 30, Steven Raga, former chief of staff to Barnwell, beat out his competitor Ramón Cando in the Democratic primary. Raga took 70.78% of the votes, while Cando only had about 28% of the votes, according to unofficial results from the city’s Board of Elections.

Barnwell announced he would not be running again after holding state office for six years. Raga entered the race with a left-leaning platform and received endorsements from Congresswoman Grace Meng, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and others.  

Raga ran his campaign on issues relating to housing discrimination and fighting for small businesses. In the general election, Raga will run against Republican candidate Sean Lally, a petition carrier for Andrew Giuliani’s gubernatorial campaign.

Raga took to Twitter to thank his supporters Wednesday morning after results came in late last night. 

“Our campaign is honored to have the trust and support of our voters here in Woodside, Maspeth, Elmhurst, Middle Village and Jackson Heights,” Raga wrote. “Congratulations to Ramon Cando for running a great campaign and his team for all their hard work and efforts.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng also tweeted about the race and congratulated Raga. 

“We did it! We helped elect the first Filipino American ever in the state of NY,” Meng tweeted. 

One district over, Juan Ardila received 43.61% of the votes and sat comfortably ahead of his three other primary opponents. Following Ardila was Brent O’Leary with 26.24% of votes, Jim Magee and Johanna Carmona, according to the city’s Board of Elections.

Ardila ran a grassroots campaign that garnered high-profile endorsements from progressives like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Councilwoman Tiffany Cabán and the Working Families Party. 

Ardila had previously run for City Council last year, losing to incumbent Robert Holden. However, with no incumbent in the running for state Assembly, Ardila was able to secure the Democratic primary win. 

Nolan held the seat for 38 years and endorsed Carmona in February, though she only walked away with about 20% of the votes. 

“It is with humility that I thank the people of western and central Queens for electing me to serve you in the New York State Assembly,” Ardila wrote on Twitter. “Thank you for the trust and confidence you have placed in me. I hope to make you all proud.” 

Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz congratulated Ardila during the election night celebration.

“When @JuanArdilaNYC called me and said he wanted to run for Assembly… I said let’s do this,” Cruz tweeted. “Parce, you ran a fantastic campaign with vision & hope for the future of our community. When folks attacked you, you stayed above it all and focused on your neighbors. So proud of you!”

Results will not be official until they are certified by the Board of Elections.

The general election will take place on Nov. 8, 2022.

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