Constantinides endorses Ramos over incumbent Peralta in Queens state Senate primary

Photo courtesy of Jessica Ramos

Astoria Councilman Costa Constantinides will officially endorse this morning Jessica Ramos, a candidate running against state Senator Jose Peralta’s seat in New York’s 13th Senate District.

Ramos, a Jackson Heights resident, announced her candidacy on Jan. 25, exactly one year after incumbent Jose Peralta joined the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC). Constantinides previously endorsed Peralta in the last state Senate election in 2016.

“We need a real Democrat representing Queens in Albany and Jessica Ramos is the candidate for the job,” he said in a statement. “We need someone who rides the trains, who sends their kids to public schools, and who understands the challenges of renting in New York City. I know Jessica has the passion, the knowledge, and the commitment to fight for our community in Albany. I am proud to endorse Jessica — a candidate who reflects our Democratic values — rather than someone who supports the party of Trump.”

Peralta is a Democrat, but his affiliation with the IDC — which enabled the Republican party to maintain control of the state Senate — drew the ire of some of his constituents. They held a town hall titled “Where is Peralta?” after the senator declined to hold an additional meeting explaining his move. Approximately 200 people showed up to learn about the eight-member coalition last June.

In January, Ramos said as part of her campaign she would seek to educate constituents about what the IDC is and “that it’s not as progressive as they claim it to be.”

Democrats make up the majority of the state Senate — they have 32 members, while Republicans have 31. But while it would seem that Democrats outnumber the GOP, the Senate is complicated by another factor: the IDC.

The IDC, founded in 2011, is a group of Democratic state senators who form a majority coalition with Republicans. Subtracting those eight members and state Senator Simcha Felder, a Brooklyn Democrat who caucuses with Republicans, puts the number of mainline Democrats in the state Senate at 23.

With two recent Democratic senator departures, the number of mainline Democrats is now at 21. Governor Andrew Cuomo called for special elections on April 24, which is expected to shift the balance back to 23 mainline Democrats in the coming months.

Peralta defended his move in an interview with QNS and said that a reunification plan presented by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reunify the IDC and mainline Democrats was “very likely.”

The plan would make both IDC leader Jeff Klein and Democratic Conference Leader Andrea 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.

Despite the plan, almost every IDC member has at least one primary challenger or more. Constantinides is the first City Council member to endorse an IDC challenger this election season.

“I’m honored to be endorsed by City Council member Constantinides, a dedicated public servant, fellow Queens native, and tireless advocate for working families,” Ramos said. “I’m running for state Senate to fight for stronger schools, more affordable housing, and a subway system that actually works. Right now, this district’s state Senator supports a Republican majority in Albany — blocking the DREAM Act, the Reproductive Health Act, and more. It’s time to vote him out. I’m proud to count on the support of my good friend Council member Costa Constantinides and look forward to campaigning alongside him as we fight for a true Democratic majority in Albany this year.”

Ramos left her job as the director of Latino media at the mayor’s office in December 2017 and said her decision to run stems partly from realizing the limited power that the city has over big issues such as transportation, education and housing laws.

“It was a very personal decision for me,” she told QNS. “Working in City Hall, I understood the limitations that the city has over many of the things we depend on every day.”

Constantinides will officially announce his endorsement at 11 a.m. in front of 31-04 Ditmars Blvd.