State candidates that made history

Robert Jackson
Robert Jackson
Photo by Eric McNatt
Robert Jackson is poised to become one of the first Muslims in the state Legislature.

State candidates that made history

A rundown of the New York firsts from the 2018 general election.
October 29, 2018

This year, New York voters had the opportunity to elect a number of candidates to the state Legislature who would mark historic firsts. Here's a look at the candidates who got enough votes to make history.


FIRST MUSLIM IN THE STATE SENATE

Robert Jackson won his race on Tuesday to become the first Muslim in the state Senate. Jackson beat state Sen. Marisol Alcantara, a former member of the Independent Democratic Conference, in a closely watched Democratic primary and easily won last night with 80.83 percent of the vote.

“I’ve been a Muslim since 1975. I haven’t just recently become a Muslim,” Jackson said in 2010, when he was the only Muslim member of the New York City Council. “And all of my entire family are Muslim, my wife, my three daughters.”

FIRST ASIAN-AMERICAN STATE SENATORS

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John Liu
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John Liu
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John Liu
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John Liu
Image Credit: 
lev radin / Shutterstock
John Liu, the former New York City comptroller, will become the first Asian-American to serve in the state Senate. The Taiwanese-born politician, who was the first Asian-American elected to the New York City Council and then the first elected to a citywide post, won handily in Queens last night with 51.73 percent compared to Republican Vickie Paladino’s 23.46 percent and Democratic incumbent state Sen. Tony Avella’s 19.18 percent.

“Yes, I’m the first Asian-American, but as I often say, I wish I were the ninth or 10th,” Liu told the Times Union prior to the election. “I mean, for goodness sake, it’s 2018.”

Liu also could share the historic feat with Kevin Thomas, who would be the first Indian-American elected to the state Legislature. Thomas ended the night with a narrow lead over state Sen. Kemp Hannon and declared victory in the race.

FIRST HASIDIC JEW IN THE STATE LEGISLATURE

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Simcha-Eichenstein
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Simcha-Eichenstein
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Simcha-Eichenstein
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Simcha Eichenstein
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Simcha Eichenstein for State Assembly
Simcha Eichenstein will be the first Hasidic Jew elected to the state Legislature after winning in an uncontested race in Assembly District 48. Of course, he wouldn’t be the first Orthodox Jew ever elected – Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who is vacating the seat, is Orthodox.

Eichenstein grew up in Borough Park in the Bobov community, a Hasidic sect within Haredi Judaism. “I guess someone has to be the first but I’m certain I won’t be the last,” Eichenstein said. “Our vibrant and growing community is filled with Hasidic-minded individuals who are eager to give back to the community as public servants. … It will be a pleasure to dispel any stereotypes that anyone might still have of the Hasidic Jewish community.”

FIRST “DREAMER”

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Catalina Cruz
Image Credit: 
Cruz for New York
Catalina Cruz, the Democratic nominee in the 39th Assembly District who heavily campaigned on her identity as “Dreamer” – a cohort that immigrated here illegally as children – and how she would be the first one to hold office in New York, won last night with 77.07 percent

“When the DREAM Act was originally written, thousands of undocumented youth like myself pinned their hopes and dreams on action from the federal government,” she said in a statement. “Today, many more continue to live in fear while facing uncertain futures. All are DREAMers, and Americans in every which way except on paper.”

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Charles Fall could be the first Muslim in the state Assembly. In fact, Roger Green, who served in the Assembly in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, was also a Muslim.

Jordan Laird
is an editorial intern at City & State.
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