Salazar Wins Sanders’ Support In State Senate Seat Fight

Andrew Karpan


State Senator Julia Salazar received a fresh jolt of fundraising cash this week, with the East Brooklyn’s politician’s re-election campaign netting Senator Bernie Sanders’s official nod, amid a slate of eight state legislative candidates east of the Mississippi.

“I am writing to you today to ask if you can contribute to some excellent candidates running for state legislatures,” Senator Sanders said late on Monday to his mailing list, which netted him $33 million in the last month of his candidacy back in March, according to FEC filings. Sanders gave the thumbs up to Salazar, a charismatic DSA-endorsed politico who beat incumbent State Senator Martin Dilan in 2018, along with five fellow state legislators and three candidates who hope to join their rank this November.

A New York chapter of the Sunrise Movement also greeted Sanders’ endorsement with enthusiasm. 

Among those incumbents, Sanders also gave the nod to Mike Gianaris, a broad-faced New York State Senator who also represents part of neighboring Ridgewood. Gianaris is most notable these days for eagerly volunteering himself to vocally oppose Amazon’s notorious, currently scuttled, efforts to build a headquarters over in Long Island City back in 2019. Last year, the City reported that the effort also won Gianaris the first primary challenge of his decade-long career in Albany. A fellow named Justin Potter is leading this effort; a “unapologetically moderate” small businessman, according to his website— where he also fumes about Amazon’s abandoned “prospect of 25,000 jobs coming to our district.”

Sanders also cited Gianaris’s oppostion to “Amazon’s massive tax break proposal,” in his Monday endorsement. “We must keep him fighting for working people in New York,” Sanders says.

Andy Marte is running against Julia Salazar for the Democratic nomination in a New York State Senate race. 

Salazar’s rival for the Democratic nomination is Andy Marte, a Bushwick-native who says he’s held a “variety of roles and titles throughout his career,” that are known to at least include a run with a local nonprofit called RiseBoro Farmers Markets. More recently, Marte has been urging Mayor Bill DeBlasio to stop enforcing social distancing amid the COVID-19 outbreak, saying that police resources are needed elsewhere. Marte says that the Parks Department should be doing this instead. A fawning profile published last year in Kings County Politics, penned by the blog’s own editor-in-chief Bernadette DeVito, had celebrated Marte’s vaguely-described work “in a myriad of political circles.”

Sanders cites Salazar’s interest in justice in his endorsement, which noted accomplishments in her fights for social justice, criminal justice and efforts to build “a more just New York.”

The majority of the candidates on the Sanders slate, notably, were incumbents like Salazar and Gianaris, though the senator and two-time presidential candidate also directed efforts at the insurgent campaigns of Nikil Saval, Roslyn Ogburn, Megan Green, running for state legislative offices in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Missouri, respectively. This contrasts with the seven endorsements in similar legislative races Sanders gave out in 2018, only one of which went to an incumbent.

A local factor that might have impacted that number is Boris Santos’ decision back in February to abandon his race for Erik Dilan’s seat in the New York State Assembly. A former chief of staff at Senator Salazar’s office, Santos left the job to challenge Dilan, son of Martin, the state senator that Salazar had unseated in 2018. In a Medium post, Santos would blame “whisper campaigns” and “political self-interest” for the demise of his campaign.

New York’s Democratic Party primary is scheduled for June 23rd, where the primary for Rafael Espinal’s seat in the New York City Council is also up for grabs and registered party members were just given the opportunity to vote for Sanders himself, in addition to his candidates. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, voters currently have until June 16th to register here for a ballot by mail.

Top photo courtesy of campaign website.

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