True Blue NY
True Blue NY
March 1st, 2018, New York, Today, more than 60 New York grassroots groups endorsed the following challengers to five members of the New York Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC): Alessandra Biaggi (District 34, Bronx and Westchester), Robert Jackson (District 31, Northern Manhattan), Rachel May (District 53, Syracuse area), Zellnor Myrie (District 20, Brooklyn), and Jessica Ramos (District 13, Queens).
The newly formed True Blue NY Grassroots Coalition is a diverse network of groups that have mobilized statewide with a unified goal to defeat the IDC. Coalition leaders spoke out today at a press conference at City Hall in Manhattan. The Coalition will eventually endorse challengers for all of the districts represented by IDC members.
“We stand here today not just because of stalled legislation in Albany, but because the IDC has been costly in other ways. Senator Jeffrey D. Klein and Independent Democratic Conference divide the Democratic Party when unity is paramount. We also stand here today because we’ve decided it’s time to take back our government and our Party,” says Carmela Gaines of Queens Huddle.
“I am so excited about all the incredible Democratic challengers against the IDC in New York,” says Zephyr Teachout, Associate Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law. “We can turn the State Senate Democratic–which means turning New York away from inequality, broken subways, and underfunded schools.”
The Coalition intends to fill the void left by the New York State Democratic Party, who refuses to stand up to the IDC and has created a power structure in Albany to support them. When elected, each of the endorsed challengers have committed to caucus with the mainline Democratic conference.
“The IDC will tell you they’ve entered into a “deal” to reunite with the mainline Democrats, but we have no reason to trust that,” says Elizabeth Mann of Rise and Resist. “In fact, the IDC has promised to return to the fold before, but backed out. We’re done playing games and negotiating. Deal or no deal, we’re with Biaggi, Jackson, May, Myrie and Ramos. Our governor and state party should follow suit.”
The Coalition is part of the larger movement that is reclaiming government from Republicans and rejecting their harmful policies nationwide.
“We’ve seen a blue wave sweep over Virginia, Alabama, and Florida. Now the blue wave is coming for New York’s Trump Democrats,” says Allison Downing of Indivisible Harlem. “The IDC is next in line to receive the full force of this movement’s opposition. A newly awakened New York electorate is now fully aware of the IDC’s charade. When the rest of the nation learns of the IDC’s scam, it is simply inevitable that the blue wave will overwhelm the IDC. With these five strong challengers, the IDC ought to be scared.”
“New York’s Indivisible groups have been absolutely fearless in their work to demand better from their elected officials,” says Ezra Levin, co-executive director of the Indivisible Project. “The resistance is building power across the state, and that’s bad news for the IDC and the politicians who support the Trump agenda.”
“In this period where the party of Trump is rolling back the progressive achievements and hard fought gains of workers over the last 60 years and dismantling our democracy, it is nothing short of a crass betrayal for these purported ‘Democrats’ to sell their votes to empower the minority Republicans to defeat the people’s agenda. Fortunately, this group of brave and progressive “real” Democrats has stepped forward to challenge these IDC collaborators, and we are confident that the voters will sweep the IDC into the dustbin of history, where it belongs,” says George Albro, a co-chair of the NY Progressive Action Network, a statewide network of 32 chapters representing thousands of progressives.
The True Blue NY Grassroots Coalition includes the following groups: Action Potluck, Action Together Northern Westchester, Better Together NYC, Citizens of District 13, City Island Indivisible, Creatives in Action, The Creative Resistance, Downtown Women for Change, Ernest Skinner Political Association, Empire State Indivisible, Empire State Progressives, Future Voters of America, Get Organized BK by Day, Hearts Across Queens, Hell’s Kitchen Democrats, Huddle In The Bronx, Indivisible Brooklyn, Indivisible Brooklyn Do or Die, Indivisible Harlem, Indivisible NY6, Indivisible Queens, Indivisible Rivertowns, IndivisibleWeStand UWS, Inwood Indivisible, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, Lead Blue NY, Local Democrats of New York, Millennials For Revolution, Mt. Vernon Pelham Indivisible, New Feminists for Justice, Our Movement the Future, No IDC NY, North Brooklyn Progressive Democrats, Northern Westchester Indivisible, NYC Solidarity Sundays, NY Progressive Action Network, NY Indivisible, NY4US, People Power Inwood Heights, Persist 81, Postcards for America – NY, Progressive Action of Lower Manhattan, Progressive Women of Pelham, Rally+Rise, Rise and Resist, Rise Uptown Indivisible, Rockland Citizens Action Network, Rockland United, Show Up Long Island, Sunshine NYC, Take Back 20, True Blue NY, True Blue NY 53, United Thru Action, Up2Us, Upper West Side Action Group, and Uptown Community Democrats.
Backing John Liu
July 2018, the former city comptroller John Liu is making another attempt at a political comeback, declaring himself a candidate against State Senator Tony Avella of Queens, a member of the now disbanded group of breakaway Democrats reviled by progressives.
Mr. Liu’s decision to run, and the requisite last-minute petition drive — his supporters started collecting signatures last week and submitted them to the Board of Elections on Thursday — come on the heels of the recent surprise primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive political newcomer who dethroned Representative Joseph Crowley, energizing the Democratic Party’s left wing and shaking up politics in Queens, where Mr. Crowley holds outsize influence.
Mr. Avella’s district partially overlaps Mr. Crowley’s district. Mr. Liu ran against Mr. Avella in 2014, in his first bid for a comeback after running a distant fourth in the Democratic primary for mayor the previous year, when he was weakened by a campaign finance scandal. Mr. Avella beat him.
Mr. Avella was one of eight senators who made up the Independent Democratic Conference, known as the I.D.C., which for years worked with Republicans in an arrangement that allowed the Republican Party to control the State Senate.
Progressive Democrats have vowed to unseat the I.D.C., despite a pledge by the group, announced in April by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to dissolve, rejoin the main body of Senate Democrats and end its alliance with Republicans.
Mr. Avella had been the only senator in the I.D.C. to have avoided a progressive challenger this year, according to Lisa DellAquila, a leader of True Blue NY, an activist group that is focused on defeating I.D.C. members in Democratic primaries, and helped coordinate the petition drive to put Mr. Liu on the ballot.
“A little over a week ago, we got together and I told them that I’d be willing to run, but they had to mount a grass-roots petition drive and get me on the ballot, and if they can do that, I’ll run,” Mr. Liu said on Friday. “I have to be honest, I wasn’t totally sure that they’d be able to do it. It was already the beginning of July, a lot of people are out of town, it’s a holiday week and the deadline was impending in days, but it really was impressive the way they organized almost overnight.”
He needed 1,000 valid signatures from Democratic voters in the district. Ms. DellAquila said that they submitted about 3,000.
Mr. Liu, 51, who has spent the last few years teaching public finance at Columbia University and Baruch College, had been approached in recent months about running against Mr. Avella again but he declined. A former Democratic assemblyman, John Duane, had committed to running, but dropped out after the I.D.C. struck its deal with Mr. Cuomo.
A similar sequence of events occurred in 2014. Then, as now, angry Democrats vowed to challenge I.D.C. members, and Mr. Liu entered the race. But once the I.D.C.’s leader, Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, responded by pledging to return to the Democratic fold after the elections, much of the momentum behind challenges like Mr. Liu’s — as well as union support for them — disappeared.
Mr. Liu said that experience contributed to keeping him on the sidelines this time. But after Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s victory, a coalition of progressive groups renewed efforts to draft him as a candidate.