By Mark Hallum
Jessica Ramos pulled off a major upset, defeating eight-year state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), a former member of the controversial Independent Democratic Conference, in Thursday’s Democratic primary.
With 87 percent of the precincts reporting, Ramos secured 56.2 percent of the votes, while Peralta trailed with 43.8 percent, according to unofficial results from NY1.
The Jackson Heights activist’s campaign has leaned heavily on a progressive, anti-IDC platform that put intense scrutiny on the breakaway Democrats for caucusing separately from the main line of the party and negotiating with the GOP to move left wing bills through the Republican-held state Senate.
Ramos has said she will work to create and pass bills that enact rent reform, such as eliminating “major capital improvement” rent increases, as well as address over-development in the district, which stretches from Corona to Ditmars.
Peralta switched over to the renegade IDC not long after the victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, igniting a hailstorm of criticism against the senator.
IDC members were viewed by progressive activists as turncoats to Republicans, particularly in Peralta’s case where outrage toward the Muslim ban issued by the White House had immigrant communities in uproar following negotiations made between the two groups to pass progressive legislation.
In April, however, Gov. Andrew Cuomo negotiated a truce between the warring Democratic groups by issuing an ultimatum: the IDC members dissolve their conference and help the mainline party win the majority in the state Senate, or face primary challenges.
Although the IDC members complied and returned to the party, the former renegade Democrats faced challengers anyway.
While Ramos raked in important endorsements from the likes of Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Cory Johnson (D-Manhattan) and gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, Peralta had support of his own from a variety of different workers unions.
Ramos continued to hold Peralta’s feet to the fire for his IDC membership, claiming Peralta and his associates had caucused with Republicans, which Peralta denied, claiming the IDC had caucused separately from both Democrats and Republicans.
“Part of the reason I’m running is I’m emblematic of the voter who was hurt by this budget and the one before it,” Ramos said in an April interview with the TimesLedger editorial staff. “There’s no talk of real rent reform, there are no tenant protections in the last two budgets and the only fix that made it into the budget for the MTA was the surcharge on for hire vehicles, which is a drop in the bucket compared to the investment we have to make in our infrastructure.”
Peralta spent July and August urging Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Smithtown) to call a bill to the floor to fund the speed camera program which were determined by the city Dept. of Transportation and City Comptroller Scott Stringer to reduce speeding and decrease the number of injuries and deaths across the city.
Eventually, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order permitting the bill to be passed by City Hall and it was signed by de Blasio as school returned to session.
With no Republican challenger in the Nov. 6 general election, Ramos is on track to represent Queens from Corona to Ditmars in District 13.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall