Can Alessandra Biaggi and Julia Salazar Unseat the GOP in Albany?

At a fundraiser held earlier this year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared that Democrats “have achieved political clarity” by watching Republicans rule in Washington, DC: “Everything we are for, they are against,” Cuomo stated. “It’s that simple.”

But politics—especially in Cuomo’s Albany—is never simple. For years, Cuomo enabled a group of rogue Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) to bolster Republican control of the New York State Senate and hold progressive legislation passed by the State Assembly hostage. Stalled bills include motions to provide tuition assistance to the children of undocumented immigrants, enshrine Roe v. Wade in the state’s constitution, and protect LGBT New Yorkers from discrimination.

The New York Times has characterized the IDC as “bizarre,” while the New Republic called it “one of the strangest legislative arrangements in American politics.” Liberal groups, meanwhile, have dubbed IDC members “Trump Democrats.” But New Yorkers finally have an appealing alternative in State Senate candidates Alessandra Biaggi, 32, and Julia Salazar, 27. Both have made opposing the IDC a theme of their campaigns.

Biaggi is mounting a spirited challenge to Jeff Klein in State Senate District 34, which covers the Bronx, Pelham, and Mount Vernon. Klein, a prolific fundraiser who sports a golden Rolex and was recently accused by a former staffer of sexual misconduct, has been the IDC’s leader since its inception.

Salazar’s opponent in North Brooklyn, Martin Malavé Dilan, was never an IDC member, which makes her case against him harder to parse. In fact, Dilan, who has represented District 18 for 16 years, has even called for IDC members to be ejected from the Democratic Party. Still, Susan Kang, an organizer with No IDC NY, an advocacy group dedicated to funding viable primary challengers to every IDC member, has called Dilan a “functional equivalent,” given that he “represents the same interests in Albany as the IDC.” In addition to significant donations from the real-estate industry, from which Klein has also taken thousands, Dilan accepted a $5,000 contribution from Klein himself in 2016.

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