By Bill Parry
After spending the last 16 months as a member of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) praised the deal brokered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Wednesday that reunifies Democrats in the upper chamber in Albany.
Peralta and his seven former IDC colleagues rejoined the Democrats, led by Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and if the united party wins two seats in the special elections later this month, it will regain the majority in the state Senate.
“Since the election of Trump, my constituents, and the rest of New Yorkers, have been constantly under attack,” Peralta said. “This is why it is vital for all Democrats to work and fight together to protect all New Yorkers. Under the leadership of Gov. Cuomo, we will be able to promote our values and ensure our progressive common agendas moves forward.”
Seven of the eight former IDC members continue to face primary challengers, including Peralta. When Jackson Heights resident Jessica Ramos left a job in the de Blasio administration to mount a challenge against Peralta, she chose to announce her candidacy on the one year anniversary of Peralta’s announcement that he had joined the IDC.
In a letter to the IDC, Ramos and six other primary challengers made it clear they are pressing forward with their campaigns despite the Democratic reunification.
They wrote, “no Albany deal should or will prevent a competitive, healthy primary in which New Yorkers strongly consider your allegiance with Republicans.”
The group blamed the IDC’s power sharing agreement with the GOP that allowed the Republicans to hold the majority in the Senate since 2012.
“Because of your allegiance with the Republicans, the budget passed again this year with no Democratic state Senator at the negotiating table,” they wrote, while blaming the powers sharing agreement for the last seven Republican budgets in which 13 progressive initiatives were ignored or “severely” underfunded in the budget, including the DREAM Act, criminal justice reform, the Child Victim’s Act and funding for the MTA.
“During budget negotiations, you failed to represent the Democratic voters who elected you,” Ramos and her colleagues said. “At the polls this year, voters will not make the same mistake again. We will not allow you to mislead New Yorkers with false claims of Democratic unity.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr