Second Queens City Council member endorses incumbent state senator’s challenger in Democratic primary

Photo courtesy of Jessica Ramos

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer became the second Queens councilman in as many weeks to endorse Jessica Ramos, a candidate for state Senate, over incumbent Jose Peralta.

On a visit to the Woodside Houses on March 26, Van Bramer announced his decision to throw his support behind the Jackson Heights resident and former City Hall staffer. She is running against Peralta to represent District 13, which includes Corona, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Woodside.

“Every day I champion progressive causes and #QueensValues in the City Council. And I need a partner in the state Senate who I know will do the same,” Van Bramer said. “Jessica Ramos is that partner. Together we will fight for justice for NYCHA residents, mass transit that works and real reform that matters. It’s not just about electing Democrats; it’s about electing the right Democrats. Jessica Ramos is the right Democrat for this district and this moment.”

Peralta, who has held the seat since 2010, announced last year that he would join the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC). Peralta is the eighth member of the IDC, which was formed in 2011 and is led by Bronx state Senator Jeffrey Klein. The conference has formed a coalition, of sorts, with Senate Republicans, who control 31 of the 63 state Senate seats.

Ramos announced her candidacy on Jan. 25, exactly one year after Peralta joined the IDC and has made his membership a core part of her campaign, referring to him as a “turncoat Democrat.” His move 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 membership. Approximately 200 people showed up to learn about the eight-member coalition last June.

The IDC continues to irk many rank-and-file Democrats who want control of the state Senate chamber to themselves; the Assembly and governor’s mansion are already controlled by Democrats. Counting the IDC members and Brooklyn state Senator Simcha Felder, a Democrat who has been caucusing with Republicans since his election, there were a total of 32 Democrats in the state Senate (before two Democrats recently resigned), which would be enough for a majority if they all caucused together.

Special elections in April are expected to bring the number of Democrats in the state Senate up to 32 from 30 again.

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

But Ramos has continued to rack up endorsements and last week Councilman Costa Constantinides, who represents Astoria and parts of Jackson Heights, Woodside and East Elmhurst, announced his support. He previously endorsed Peralta in 2016.

Ramos said she was honored to receive Van Bramer’s support and looks forward to “campaigning alongside him.”

“Jimmy has worked tirelessly to make our streets safer and our schools less crowded — and he has been a fierce advocate for working subways to help our borough’s struggling straphangers,” she said. “I’m running for state Senate because we need a REAL Democrat representing Queens — not a Trump Democrat who empowers the Republicans and blocks the DREAM Act, the Reproductive Health Act and more. As a state Senator, I will fight for increased public school funding, real rent reform and a subway system that actually works.”

Ramos has also been endorsed by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500, Working Families Party and The People for Bernie Sanders.

Peralta was endorsed by the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, Plumbers Local Union 1 and the Woodside Tenant Association.