By Mark Hallum
Democratic state Senate candidate Jessica Ramos picked up an endorsement from state Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) this week.
Simotas claimed Ramos would be a partner for her in Albany for pushing legislation that she said would bring justice to women and immigrants across the state while slamming the incumbent, Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) for his membership in the rogue Independent Democratic Conference.
“We have a choice: we can choose a candidate to represent us in the New York State Senate who cares about ensuring the passage of the Women’s Reproductive Rights Act, or we can choose a person who has decided to abandon us to caucus with Republicans who refuse to consider whether to protect a women’s right to choose or whether New York state should protect access to contraception or whether our state should protect employee’s healthcare choices,” Simotas said.
But a spokesperson for Peralta rebuked the statements made by Simotas claiming that the incumbent senator has fought for his share of progressive issues.
“Senator Peralta knows first hand the frustration of being in the Senate minority and the difficulty of even passing progressive legislation,” the spokesman said. “When he was fighting for the DREAM Act since first introducing it in 2013, his opponent was no where to be found. Because of Senator Peralta’s work in Albany he was able to secure the nations strongest paid family leave program, $15 million in immigrant legal defense funding, and the largest increase in education funding in New York’s history, where again Ms. Ramos was absent until she decided to run for office.”
Simotas contended Peralta has not only turned a blind eye to various immigrant issues, but caucused with Republicans during his tenure with the IDC, something he has denied.
“We as IDC were in a separate room [from Democrats and Republicans] talking about what the Republicans wanted and what the mainline Democrats wanted and then we talked about how it was important for our communities, our districts,” Peralta said during an April interview with TimesLedger. “So we were in a coalition with them, but they never needed us… They had the magic number of 32 [the majority].”
Peralta also said there were many “behind the scene fights” with Republicans over anti-immigration bills the IDC members refused to support, despite the coalition.
Ramos said not only was Peralta’s defection to the now disbanded IDC cause for concern, but also maintained the timing of his defection was significant.
“I think that Aravella spoke about just how frustrated Assembly members can be when they go to Albany and consistently turn out progressive legislation only to see it die in the state Senate, because it’s controlled by Republicans, because there’s been turncoat Democrats who have empowered them,” Ramos said. “I am seeking to unseat the only member – former member – of the IDC who chose to defect from the Democrats after Donald Trump was inaugurated as president and announced it on the same day that [Trump] announced his first Muslim travel ban.”
Ramos has also received the endorsement of Cynthia Nixon, the gubernatorial candidate looking to unseat Gov. Andrew Cuomo,
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall