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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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