Candidate Jessica Ramos just received yet another big endorsement in her run for a state Senate seat when City Comptroller Scott Stringer visited Jackson Heights to announce his support.
Ramos is running against incumbent Jose Peralta, a Democrat who last year joined the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC). The group of eight Democrats have been fiercely criticized and mainline Democrats argue that they help to empower Republicans and block progressive legislation.
Stringer announced his support for Ramos, who he called a “true progressive Democrat,” at the Comfort Adult Day Care Center at 100-05 Roosevelt Ave.
“I’ve known Jessica for years, and she is a tireless champion for public school students, straphangers, and our city’s renters,” he said. “Queens deserves a leader in Albany who will put working families first — and Jessica is the candidate we need. I am proud to endorse Jessica — a public school parent, a renter, a subway rider and a real Democrat.”
Though Democrats make up the majority of the state Senate — they have 32 members, while Republicans have 31 — the eight-member coalition and Brooklyn Democrat Simcha Felder, who is not part of the IDC but caucuses with Republicans, puts the number of mainline Democrats in the state Senate at 23.
Though the IDC was formed in 2011, the group faced little opposition from constituents until the election of President Donald Trump. Ramos announced her run on Jan. 25 because it marked one year since her opponent declared his move to the IDC and it was also one year to the day when Trump announced “the travel ban on Muslim majority countries targeting our fellow Queens residents,” she said.
Members of the IDC, including Peralta, argue that their coalition supports progressive legislation like raising the minimum wage and paid family leave. They also argue that having a Democratic majority would not necessarily lead to passing a more progressive agenda.
A spokesperson for Peralta said the comptroller is using the endorsement to further his mayoral campaign.
“While senator Peralta is focused on delivering results for his constituents on public housing, fixing the MTA, immigration and funding education, it seems that Scott Stringer is playing politics to satisfy his mayoral ambitions,” said Jennifer Blatus, a spokesperson for Peralta’s campaign. “He should focus on his day job, we will not be distracted by his useless politicking.”
As part of her campaign, Ramos has sought to convince constituents that the IDC is “not as progressive as they claim it to be.”
“There’s a reason that they vote to empower the Republicans and many of those are perks that they would actually probably get if they contributed to the Democratic majority like we voted them in to do,” she told QNS in a previous interview.
Those perks include bigger offices, larger staff and discretionary funding for constituents, she added.
Ramos is campaigning for stronger rent protections, more public school funding and “a subway system that works for working people.”
Peralta said he thinks a reunification plan is “very likely.” Governor Andrew Cuomo last year presented a plan to reunify the IDC and mainline Democrats and both leaders — IDC leader Jeff Klein and Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stuart-Cousins — have agreed to it.
The plan would make both Klein and Stuart-Cousins co-leaders and each would have a chance to decide the agenda and bring legislation to the floor. In return, Democrats would not actively seek to run primary challengers against the IDC members.
But that hasn’t stopped candidates from running against the IDC, and Ramos has picked up endorsements from Queens Councilmen Costa Constantinides, Jimmy Van Bramer and groups like the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500, Working Families Party and The People for Bernie Sanders.
“I’m honored to be endorsed by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, a dedicated public servant, a true friend and a progressive champion for New York. From advocating for a higher minimum wage to winning increased arts funding for our schools, Comptroller Stringer has been on the front lines fighting for working families in New York for decades,” Ramos said in a statement. “I’m running for state Senate to increase school funding, expand affordable housing and fix our broken subway system. My community deserves a leader who will put working families first — instead of Jose Peralta, a senator who empowers Republicans at the expense of his district.”