It was April 2016, and New York was the epicenter of the presidential primary race. With neither the Democratic nor Republican nominations wrapped up, it was New York’s most consequential primary in ages.

“I grew up in Brooklyn, New York,” Democrat Bernie Sanders said at a nationally televised debate co-hosted by NY1.

“I love being in Brooklyn,” Hillary Clinton declared during the debate, which took place at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. “This is great.”

What You Need To Know

  • President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have already clinched nominations from their parties, making Tuesday's primary election in New York largely irrelevant
  • But in April 2016, New York was the epicenter of the presidential race as Bernie Sanders continued to wage a primary fight against Hillary Clinton
  • Republicans Ted Cruz and John Kasich, still in the running against Donald Trump, also campaigned heavily in New York
  • Notably, eventual nominee Jimmy Carter lost the New York presidential primaries in 1976 to Henry “Scoop” Jackson and in 1980 to Ted Kennedy

As a former senator from New York, Clinton enjoyed some advantages, including the support of virtually the entire New York political establishment.

Still, she performed every possible photograph opportunity: ordering cheesecake at Junior’s in Brooklyn, dancing salsa in Washington Heights and riding the subway, though she was embarrassingly tripped up by the MetroCard swipe.

Chasing her was Sanders, who stumped all over the city, from Coney Island to Harlem, drawing massive crowds at rallies in Prospect Park, Washington Square Park and the south Bronx.

But it wasn’t just the Democrats.

“It’s a great place. I love New York,” declared Republican John Kasich during a campaign stop in the city.

“I’m thrilled to be here,” said Republican Ted Cruz as he arrived at an event at a Dominican restaurant in the Bronx.

Kasich took a novel approach, eating and drinking his way through numerous campaign stops.

“I’m currently working on a secret plan to delay the primary so I can spend more time eating in New York,” Kasich said.

In the end, Clinton and Donald Trump won New York comfortably on their way to winning the nominations of their parties. But it was a rare instance of New York playing a relevant role in a primary.

Jimmy Carter did lose New York in 1976 to Henry “Scoop” Jackson and in 1980 to Ted Kennedy.

In 2020, state election officials postponed the presidential primary due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, with Joe Biden facing no competition, they tried to cancel the election altogether before the courts forced them to reverse course.