Statewide, Gov. Andrew Cuomo got what he wanted: He secured the Democratic nomination, he’s running for re-election with Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and Letitia James is the attorney general nominee.
But locally, progressives were able to notch key victories in the state Senate, where six of eight former members of the now-dissolved Independent Democratic Conference went down to defeat and Sen. Martin Dilan, viewed as a representative of the Brooklyn Democratic machine, also lost.
That many incumbents in the state Legislature losing their primaries in one year isn’t just unusual or rare, it’s unheard of — a potential harbinger of what’s to come for the November the elections and a sign the Democratic base in New York is especially restive.
Sens. Jose Peralta, Tony Avella, Jesse Hamilton, Marisol Alcantara, Jeff Klein and David Valesky all lost — results that could reshape the state Senate and usher in a more confidently liberal Democratic conference that hopes to take the majority this fall.
Another rarity: Turnout was up.
The IDC had dissolved itself in April under a push by Cuomo, who had faced liberal pressure to help his party gain control of the Senate. The conference had been aligned with Republicans in the chamber since 2011, even going as far as to have a majority coalition with the Senate GOP for the 2013-2014 legislative session.
For progressive foes of the IDC, it’s a rejection of how Albany was functioning.
“New York politics changed forever tonight,” said Bill Lipton, the state director of the Working Families Party. “The IDC is dead. The center of gravity has shifted, and Andrew Cuomo will face a radically different Albany. For years, Cuomo, the IDC and the Republicans led a government which blocked countless progressive policies.”
Lipton was on hand for the WFP’s party in Flatbush Thursday night. It was a relatively subdued evening as it became apparent the ticket led by Cynthia Nixon would lose. But things picked up when the former IDC lawmakers began to fall behind. The excitement built evening further when Alessandra Biaggi was named the winner of her primary over Klein, the former IDC leader.
Nixon’s concession speech dwelled heavily on the Senate shakeup.
“Your victories tonight have shown that the blue wave is real and that is not only coming for Republicans, it is coming for Democrats who act like them,” she said.
But the biggest target for the left, Cuomo, took a step closer to a third term, boosting turnout and, percentage-wise, largely replicating his primary four years ago against Teachout, just with more votes.
Nixon insisted things will change for Cuomo next year, as the freshman lawmakers will want new approaches on rent control, housing and health care, including a single payer bill.
“Because in 2018, progressive rhetoric is not enough,” Nixon said. “People are struggling to survive here. And we need real, substantive policies that address racial, gender and economic inequality in New York state.”