While many candidates for elective office across New York state scurry to make last minute preparations for Tuesday, November 6, the general election is just a formality for two Bronx candidates who upset the political landscape with surprise primary victories.
That’s because 14th Congressional district candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and 34th senatorial district candidate Alessandra Biaggi did their heavy lifting on their respective primary days by separately upsetting 20-year political backbones in the Democratic Party, Congressman Joseph Crowley and 7-term state senator, Jeff Klein.
All that’s left is for the general election voter to validate their earlier victories so they can officially claim their place in the Albany or Washington D.C. legislative chambers starting in January 2019.
Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign, armed with clipboards in plastic bags, overcame being outspent 18 to 1 per vote to defeat establishment-based Crowley. “It’s no secret he’s very well financed,” Ocasio-Cortez said days before her first primary election ever. “But people don’t know him, especially the Bronx, so we aren’t scared of big money because we have big people,” the Parkchester native added.
While Crowley has spent more time strumming Bruce Springsteen hits on his guitar rather than campaigning this autumn, his name will still appear on the Working Families line.
Since that fateful Tuesday, June 26 the progressive wave began flooding the Bronx, leading to the rise of Biaggi prior to her Thursday, September 13 primary win.
Biaggi also ran on a platform of progressive change and again and again called Klein out for forming the now-disbanded Independent Democratic Conference, saying that the IDC blocked progressive legislation at a time when Washington was in the hands of the Republican opposition; convincing the voter that voting alongside Republican issues was a “betrayal to the party.”
In addition to being endorsed by her anticipated colleague Ocasio-Cortez, she had also counted on the support of elected officials from outside of the borough such as New York’s junior U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and NYC Public Advocate Scott Stringer, who had both used this race to raise their ‘progressive’ credentials.
All-in all only 5% of the enrolled voters of the congressional or senate districts have cast their vote for either of the primary day winners up to this point.
Anthony Pappas, the Republican party candidate and Crowley will face off against Ocasio-Cortez, while Biaggi will be opposed by GOP-candidate Richard Ribustello and Klein on the Independence Party line. The Republican organization in both the Bronx and Queens recently withdrew their support for Pappas after learning he had been accused of domestic violence against his former wife.
Ocasio-Cortez, a former Bernie Sanders organizer has made some political blunders along the way including her referencing Israel as “occupiers of Palestine” during an interview, barring the press from her town hall meetings and embellishing her ‘Bronx roots;’ neglecting to mention that her family left the borough for Westchester during her early childhood.
Biaggi stirred some controversy as well with her supportive stance for the NYC Department of Transportation’s proposal to install a ‘road diet’ plan on Morris Park Avenue. Community Board 11 and the Morris Park Community Association, as well as Klein, vehemently oppose the plan.
Fellow senator, Luis Sepulveda, a Crowley and Klein supporter, discussed the necessitity of bringing the establishment and progressives together in efforts to reunite the divided Democratic Party.
“There has to be an effort on both sides, we should work beyond labels here, sitting down and having a fair and open discussion because at the end of the day you will see that the two movements do have a lot in common,” Sepulveda said.
He faces Republican challenger Patrick Delinces this election day following his special election to the 32nd Senatorial District.
Sepulveda’s old 87th Assembly seat is also up for grabs come Election Day. Democrat Karines Reyes will face Republican Alpheas Marcus in the general election.
Reyes, a registered nurse at the Montefiore Einstein Hospital had received Sepulveda’s endorsement prior to primary victory against Farah Despinges and John Perez.
Following that primary, Reyes, the Bronx County Democratic Committee-backed candidate addressed healthcare issues that face the borough.
“We know that the Bronx is the most unhealthy county in the state, I believe it’s important we start looking at our troubles through a different lens,” she said.
The candidates vying for the Assembly are: 77th AD, Latoya Joyner -Dem. (*) against Tanya Carmichael - Rep.; 78th AD Jose Rivera- D (*) vs. Michael E. Walters - R; 79th AD, Michael Blake - D (*) vs. Gregory Torres -R; 80th AD, Nathalia Fernandez -D (*) vs. Louis Perri - R; 81st AD, Jeffery Dinowitz - D (*) vs. Alan H. Reed - R; 82nd AD, Michael Benedetto - D (*) vs. Elizabeth English; 83rd AD, Carl Heastie -D (*) vs. Ashton Lee -R; 84th AD, Carmen Arroyo -D (*) vs. Rosaline Nieves -R; 85th AD, Marcos Crespo -D (*) vs. Shonde Lennon -R; and 86th AD, Victor Pichardo - D (*) vs. Ariel Rivera-Diaz - R.
The other Senate races are in the 29th SD, Jose M. Serrano - D (*) vs. Jose A. Colon -R; and 32nd SD, Gustavo Rivera -D (*) vs. Nicole Torres - R.