Additional progressive challengers take on the IDC

Almost every IDC member now has a primary opponent.

Despite tentative reunification plans between the Independent Democratic Conference and mainline Democrats in the state Senate, progressive primary challengers are barreling ahead with their campaigns to unseat Independent Democratic Conference members – and they’re drawing support from a coalition of left-leaning activist organizations. Last week, the Working Families Party endorsed four more candidates running against for IDC members, bringing the total of WFP-backed IDC-challengers to seven. WFP initially endorsed three anti-IDC insurgents in February, and held a kickoff rally on Sunday to bring the upstart candidates together. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand headlined the event but did not address the IDC challenges specifically.

State Sen. David Carlucci is the only IDC member to escape a progressive challenger so far. Five of the primary contenders have also been endorsed by a coalition of progressive grassroots activist groups. Meanwhile, IDC Sen. Jose Peralta has garnered two primary challengers, including activist Andrea Marra, who would be the first trans woman and the first Asian-American in the New York State Senate. Here is a guide to the seven challengers taking on IDC members who have garnered endorsements so far:

Alessandra Biaggi

Challenging: IDC Leader Jeff Klein

Year Klein was first elected: 2004

Year Klein joined the IDC: Klein was a founding member of the IDC in 2011

Biaggi is a former counsel to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and top campaign aide for Hillary Clinton in 2016. She is the granddaughter of former Rep. Mario Biaggi, a popular congressman who was implicated in a corruption scandal in the late 1980s. In an interview with City & State in January, Biaggi said that she was running against Klein because the IDC is a “threat to progressive politics” in New York.

Jessica Ramos

Challenging: State Sen. Jose Peralta

Year Peralta was first elected: 2010

Year Peralta joined the IDC: 2017

Ramos was previously a communications staffer in the office of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Although she filed to run against Peralta in December, her campaign officially launched on Jan. 25, the one year anniversary of Peralta joining the IDC. Ramos told QNS in January that her decision to run was partly informed by seeing firsthand the limited influence the mayor’s office has over education, housing and transportation policy.

Rachel May

Challenging: State Sen. David Valesky

Year Valesky was first elected: 2004

Year Valesky joined the IDC: 2011

May is a longtime activist and director of Sustainability Education at Syracuse University. Syracuse is apparently a breeding ground for progressive challengers, as another university staffer, Dana Balter, is running for Congress as a Democrat against Rep. John Katko.

Zellnor Myrie

Challenging: State Sen. Jesse Hamilton

Year Hamilton was first elected: 2014

Year Hamilton joined the IDC: 2016

A Brooklyn native who once worked for New York City Councilman Fernando Cabrera, Myrie is a lawyer and member of the Legal Aid Society’s New Leadership program. Myrie has listed housing and education as among his campaign priorities.

Robert Jackson

Challenging: State Sen. Marisol Alcantara

Year Alcantara was first elected: 2016

Year Alcantara joined the IDC: 2017

Jackson is a former New York City councilman who lost to Alcantara in the 2016 election. He wasted no time in launching a comeback bid, announcing in May of 2017 that he would challenge Alcantara again because she joined the IDC.

John Duane

Challenging: State Sen. Tony Avella

Year Avella was first elected: 2010

Year Avella joined the IDC: 2014

Duane served in the state Assembly for one term in the 1980s. He has also launched unsuccessful bids for the Assembly in 2010, when he was defeated by Ed Braunstein, and city council in 2013, when he was edged out by Paul Vallone.

Jasmine Robinson

Challenging: State Sen. Diane Savino

Year Savino was first elected: 2004

Year Savino joined the IDC: 2011

Robinson is a legal secretary and community activist in Staten Island. She told Gotham Gazette that she decided to run against Savino after learning about the IDC at a “No IDC NY” information session in Manhattan in January.