NYS Primaries: Alcantara vs. Jackson

Incumbent Marisol Alcantara and Robert Jackson are vying for the 31st District NYS Senate seat. (Photos via City Limits)

Marisol Alcantara, the incumbent New York State senator from the 31st District who won a special election two years ago is running in the primary against an earlier opponent, Robert Jackson. Both Alcantara and Jackson are progressive Democrats, but the primary race is shaping up as a referendum on Alcantara’s participation in the Independent Democratic Conference in the statehouse. In City Limits, Jarrett Murphy examines the current race, which will be decided on Sept. 13.

The key difference is that when they ran in a primary for the 31st State Senate district two years ago, vying for the seat vacated by Adriano Espaillat heading to Congress, Jackson took a pledge to caucus with the mainline Democrats if he won. Alcantara did not. Instead she was the beneficiary of nearly $540,000 from the campaign finance entity operated by Independent Democratic Conference leader Sen. Jeff Klein.

Alcantara, for her part, says that she was dismissed by many establishment Democrats when she entered the race two years ago, and she points to her progressive bona fides.

“I just think it’s interesting that people who are my opponents are trying to wipe out my entire career of work—in the labor movement, for immigrants, and on behalf of women’s issues—because of a year and a half that I spent in the IDC,” she says. “My opponent doesn’t talk about anything that I’ve voted on. Everything my opponent is campaigning on is: I was a member of the IDC.”

Murphy details some of the Dominican immigrant’s career (she came to the U.S. when she was 12) – her work with the Immigrant Worker Assistance Alliance, as an organizer for the New York State Nurses Association, organizing Latino voters in Florida in 2004, and more.

Her 2018 campaign platform sounds right in step with that progressive backstory. She lists as her campaign priorities the Dream Act, reproductive rights, speedy trial, an end to cash bail, early voting, repealing vacancy decontrol, a ban on coastal drilling, tighter gun control and public campaign financing.

The question is whether her joining the IDC was in step with those principles. The deal between the GOP and Klein’s coalition was that the breakaway Democrats assented to Republican control of the chamber (which depended chiefly on Brooklyn Democratic Sen. Simcha Felder’s decision to caucus with the GOP) in exchange for getting action on its bills.

Go to City Limits to read how her legislative efforts have fared, particularly with respect to the “core progressive agenda Alcantara has articulated.” Then read about Jackson, and what Murphy describes as his “substantially more detailed” policy platform. Find out, too, Jackson’s response to a question about whether his move in 2015 from the City Council to the Restaurant Action Alliance was “icky.”

You can also listen to Ben Max of Gotham Gazette and Jarrett Murphy of City Limits talk about the race.

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