Astoria progressive pulls plug on state Senate campaign just as early primary voting begins

State Senate candidate Kristen Gonzalez, state Senator Michael Gianaris and Astoria activist Nomiki Konst following their meeting Saturday at The Neptune Diner. (Photo by Patrick Jordan)

Astoria resident Nomiki Konst suspended her three-month-long campaign to represent the new 59th State Senate district and endorsed her progressive rival, Kristen Gonzalez, just as early voting got underway for the Aug. 23 primary election.

Konst announced her decision following a face-to-face meeting with Gonzalez, arranged by state Senator Michael Gianaris at the iconic Neptune Diner on Saturday, Aug. 13.

“Since the new district was announced, we’ve been running a progressive community-based campaign, with committed supporters, and transformative policy proposals that have added important dimensions to this race and the conversation in this diverse community,” Konst said. “I am grateful to the community members, volunteers, activists, neighbors, and friends that have supported the campaign we have run. Without our community support we wouldn’t have been able to collect 3,000 signatures within a week of announcing, spoken to thousands of residents, and highlighted important local issues like the environmental coverups in Greenpoint, pandemic relief, expanding women’s health justice funding, and a plan to tax developers after 421-a.”

The campaign to represent Western Queens, as well as parts of North Brooklyn and Midtown East in Manhattan, has grown increasingly contentious between Konst and Gonzalez– who’s backed by the Democratic Socialists of America– with claims of negative campaigning between the two in recent weeks.

“I’m grateful for Nomiki’s endorsement at this critical moment. We must come together to defeat developers and big corporations, and we’re looking forward to uniting the progressive movement to defeat special interests next week,” Gonzalez said. “We support her call to require developers near Superfund sites to provide a disclaimer to tenants, so we can create the green future we all deserve.”

The announcement allows progressives to coalesce behind Gonzalez, an American Express project manager who was raised in Elmhurst and currently resides in Long Island City as she takes on the well-funded Elizabeth Crowley. The former councilwoman has the support of Mayor Eric Adams, Speaker Adrienne Adams and Congressman Gregory Meeks, the chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party.

“This election is too important to allow wealthy interests to influence its outcome,” Gianaris said. “Nomiki Konst has been a committed activist for progressive causes and is again displaying that commitment by uniting progressives behind Kristen Gonzalez’s campaign. I look forward to this movement thriving in the future with Senator Kristen Gonzalez and Nomiki’s progressive leadership.”

Konst said her decision wasn’t taken lightly, and it left her with a heavy heart.

“The most important thing to do right now is doing everything we can to combat these outside forces who want to profit off a speculative market,” Konst said. “District 59 has some of the fastest growing communities in the country and real estate sees it as a gold mine. We must work our best to support residents so they can continue to afford to live in our beautiful community.”

Manhattan resident Michael Corbett who served as a staffer to former Astoria Councilman Costa Constantinides, who currently serves as the vice chair of the state Democratic Party, is also on the primary ballot for District 59.