Meeks, Geraci win Democratic primary contests

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Incumbent Demond Meeks on Tuesday won the Democratic primary race for state Assembly seat in the 137th District.

Meeks beat City Council member Willie Lightfoot Jr. in a low-turnout day for Democratic Party voters, winning with 66 percent of the vote.

In another closely watched race, Michael Geraci edged former Mayor Lovely Warren by a margin of 53 percent to 46 percent in the Democratic primary for City Court judge. Geraci was the endorsed candidate in that contest.

All election results are unofficial.

“I am honored by the trust and faith the members of our community have placed in me and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue serving for a third term as the representative for the 137th Assembly District,” Meeks said in a statement following his victory. “Together, we will make a stronger and more prosperous community for all.”

Meeks’ victory represents another primary win even though he did not win the party’s endorsement. David Gantt, the long-serving titan in the Rochester delegation to Albany, stepped down from the seat in 2020, choosing to endorse Ernest Flagler-Mitchell as his successor. However, Meeks won the four-person primary as a relative outsider, a labor organizer with no significant elected experience. 

This year, Meeks was challenged by Lightfoot, who secured the endorsement of the Monroe County Democratic Committee over the incumbent.

Financial disclosure records show Meeks did have monetary support from Harry Bronson and Sarah Clark, fellow Democrats in the Assembly. Prominent local figures who also donated to his campaign included Mayor Malik Evans; Monroe County legislators William Burgess, Lystra McCoy and Carolyn Delvecchio Hoffman; City Council member Stanley Martin; Brighton Town Council member Nate Salzman; Rochester City School District board president Cynthia Elliott; and Urban League president Seanelle Hawkins. Local unions, such as the union representing firefighters in Gates, also made up a significant portion of contributions.

Meeks also was endorsed by the Working Families Party this cycle.

Lightfoot’s biggest financial supporters included commercial real estate attorney Peter Lutz, Rochester Student Housing LLC owner Scott Beck, former county Legislator Sabrina LaMar, and a committee of Frank Keophetlasy, who recently lost a City Council election to Bridget Monroe. 

A key factor in Meeks’ win was doing well in districts with the highest turnout rates. This was particularly true in election district 27, which covers much of the 19th Ward. Turnout there accounted for nearly a third of the total primary votes. He won 72 percent of the votes in that district, his largest vote share among all districts.

Lightfoot, on the other hand, failed to gain a geographic foothold among voters this primary cycle. Election district 28, which includes the Lyell-Otis neighborhood, was his strongest showing yet still only accounted for 45 percent of the total district ballots.

As a Democratic stronghold, the general election for the 137th District is almost guaranteed to go in favor of Meeks. The district covers most of the “crescent neighborhoods” (northeast, central west and southwest) of Rochester, along with a portion of the town of Gates.

While Republican support is strongest (and has been growing recently) in Gates, the GOP is vastly behind when it comes to enrolled voters in the district. The general election in 2022 was won handily by Meeks with over 70 percent of the vote. 

In the City Court race, there seems to be a clear geographic delineation between Geraci and Warren voters. Ballots cast for Warren were highest in the Crescent neighborhoods, particularly in the southwest, while Geraci saw his greatest support in southeast neighborhoods east of the Genesee River as well as areas north of Route 104.

The 2024 primary cycle was once again marked by low turnout. This year, 11.8 percent of all eligible voters cast a ballot, down from 15.8 percent in 2023.

While primary elections often draw comparatively few voters to the polls—hitting an 18-year low of 8.6 percent in 2022—Monroe County saw high turnout in 2020 (32 percent), 2018 (24.9 percent) and 2017 (29.1 percent).

Jacob Schermerhorn is a Rochester Beacon contributing writer and data journalist. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected].

2 thoughts on “Meeks, Geraci win Democratic primary contests

  1. CHECK OUT THE NAMES. IF YOU KNOW HOW ‘POLITRICKS’ WORK (HERE IN MODERN-DAY-SLAVE TOWN U.S.A.) — THIS TELLS YOU A LOT: “Financial disclosure records show Meeks did have monetary support from Harry Bronson, Sarah Clark, Mayor Malik Evans, William Burgess, Lystra McCoy, Carolyn Delvecchio Hoffman, Stanley Martin, Nate Salzman, Cynthia Elliott; and Seanelle Hawkins.”

    “This year, 11.8 percent of all eligible voters cast a ballot.” THIS MEANS THAT MORE THAN 88% OF THOSE WHO WERE ELIGIBLE TO VOTE — STAYED HOME!!! GUESS WHY???

    • They all stayed home, all 88%, because all is going well in Rochester. The vast majority apparently believe that life is good as is. Or,…is there zero % interest in getting involved in the community. Maybe both. If you’re not happy with the state of the City of Rochester you have to get off your butt and get yourself to the voting station. I don’t know the issues, but if Cynthia Elliott is associated with the candidate, stay tuned. Maybe there is an opportunity to turn the failing urban education system around. Actually….NAH.

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