Gonzalez declares victory in newly-drawn 59th Senate District in western Queens

Kristen Gonzalez-19 (3)
Long Island City’s Kristen Gonzalez cruised past former Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley in Tuesday’s Democratic primary to represent the newly-drawn Senate District 59 race. (Photo courtesy of Gonzalez’s campaign)

Long Island City progressive Kristen Gonzalez declared victory in the newly-drawn Senate District 59 contest during Tuesday’s primary, giving the Democratic Socialists of America another victory against establishment candidates in western Queens.

The 27-year-old Gonzalez is leading former Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley with 13,115 votes (58.14%), with 99% of scanners reported as of Wednesday morning, Aug. 24, according to unofficial results from the city’s Board of Elections.

Gonzalez was greeted by supporters chanting “K.G., K.G.” as she arrived at Inkun, a Peruvian restaurant in Long Island City, where she received a hug from Astoria Councilwoman Tiffany Cabán before entering and addressing her supporters.

DSA-backed Kristen Gonzalez declared victory in the Senate District 59 race Tuesday night in Long Island City. (Photo courtesy of Gonzalez’s campaign)
Supporters celebrate Kristen Gonzalez’s victory in the Senate District 59 race Tuesday night in Long Island City. (Photo courtesy of Gonzalez’s campaign)

“Today we really proved that socialism wins, we are not going anywhere, and we will not stop until we see a socialist slate across the city,” Gonzalez said. “Neighborhoods across Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens resoundingly elected a 27-year-old socialist Latina to the New York state legislature. Tonight, we didn’t just prove that socialists can still win, but that our movement is undoubtedly growing.”

In addition to her DSA support, Gonzalez was endorsed by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Working Families Party, which sent a small army of canvassers to work her campaign based on creating a more equitable New York where all residents can live in dignity. Her priorities include affordable housing, protecting women’s reproductive rights, and the Green New Deal.

Gonzalez was raised in Elmhurst by a single mother from Puerto Rico, where she earned a scholarship to an elite private high school on the Upper East Side at the age of 12. The experience navigating working-class Queens and upper-class Manhattan led her to fight for social justice, from working in the Obama White House to organizing DSA campaigns against corporate giants like Amazon and for climate action through bills like the Build Public Renewables Act.

“Our work doesn’t stop here. This movement has always been about building the future working people deserve together,” Gonzalez said. “Our campaign went up against nearly a half-million in fear-mongering ads from outside real estate and right-wing super PACs, but today we proved that a progressive message of community care is more important to New York working families. I’m honored to be the Democratic nominee for Senate District 59 and I’m ready to work in Albany building the future we each deserve.”

Crowley held a watch party a few blocks away at the LIC Bar on Vernon Boulevard.

“We put everything into this campaign that we could and sadly we came up short,” Crowley said. “I can’t thank my supporters, volunteers, and team enough for their tireless efforts. I congratulated Kristen on her win and wish her all the best.  I look forward to working together to improve the lives of New Yorkers by moving our communities forward.”

The Gonzalez campaign had plenty of momentum going until it hit a speed bump in early June when Astoria resident Nomiki Konst elbowed her way into the race, crowding the progressive lane. When State Senator Michael Gianaris arranged an August 13 sitdown with the candidates at Astoria’s Neptune Diner, Konst dropped out and endorsed Gonzalez in an effort to clear the progressive path even though it was too late to remove her name from the ballot.

The Gonzalez campaign had a strong ground game thanks to the support of the DSA and the Working Families Party.

DSA-backed candidates have succeeded against establishment candidates since June 2018 when Ocasio-Cortez stunned then-Congressman Joe Crowley, who was the fourth-highest ranking Democrat in the House and leader of the Queens County Democratic Party. Tuesday’s primary pitted Crowley’s cousin Elizabeth against Gonzalez, endorsed by Ocasio-Cortez.

Congressman Gregory Meeks, who succeeded Joe Crowley as the party leader, endorsed Elizabeth Crowley in the D59 race to represent Astoria, Long Island City, parts of North Brooklyn and several neighborhoods in Manhattan’s Midtown East. In addition to the Meeks endorsement, Crowley garnered additional support from Mayor Eric Adams and Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, and two dozen major unions, including the United Federation of Teachers, and the Communication Workers of America.

Elizabeth Crowley lost her City Council seat to Robert Holden during a memorable election cycle in 2017 when Crowley defeated the Maspeth civic leader and retired college professor in the primary but lost to Holden in the general election when he appeared on the ballot after the Queens County GOP offered him the spot on its party line.

More recently, Elizabeth Crowley finished second in the 2020 special election for Queens Borough President, which was won handily by Donovan Richards. Crowley came much closer in a 2021 rematch in the Democratic primary, which Richards won by a margin of 0.1%.

Also in the running was Manhattan District Leader Mike Corbett, who was a staffer for former Astoria Councilman Costa Constantinides.

Corbett was endorsed by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and a number of Manhattan Democratic clubs, and he was the first to concede in the race.

“I want to congratulate Kristen Gonzalez on her victory in this race and stand ready to support her as our next State Senator,” Corbett said. “Throughout the last two and a half months, we have treated each other with respect as we engaged in a debate on the ideas. The issues we discussed — from public safety to housing to workers’ rights — are still going to be there tomorrow, so it’s on us to continue working as a community. We were among the last campaigns to enter this race, but we saw such strong support for our message that we can have a better New York. I want to thank my supporters, volunteers, and staff for their hard work and dedication.”