September 21, 2016
Washington, DC – Living up to the reputation of “political powerhouse,” the hard work of 1199SEIU members once again played an important role in achieving victory for all seventeen of the 1199-backed candidates in the 2016 NYS Primary election.
The endorsed candidates, almost all running for a seat in the Assembly or Senate, and all committed to the 1199 Action Platform, were supported with a door-to-door field effort and/or communications program.
New York’s September primary elections determine, for the most part, which major party candidates will appear on the ballot in November’s general election. And in certain areas, where the number of people enrolled in one majority party overwhelmingly exceeds the number of enrollees in another majority party, elections are essentially decided by the primary. That’s the case in many New York City districts, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 2-1. Grassroots defeats big money.
There were some big challenges to several progressive candidates this year, funded by out-of-state billionaires in an attempt to push back their support for public schools and opposition to a private-school tax break that would primarily benefit the very wealthy. Still, the public school advocates all won their primaries handily, with the help of 1199 members. State Senator Gustavo Rivera received 63% of the vote, Assemblywoman Pamela Harris received 64%, Assemblywoman Latrice Walker captured an overwhelming 74% and Long Island Assemblyman Phil Ramos won with an equally impressive 73% of the vote. This is a tremendous victory for grassroots mobilization over outside and over-the-top spending. Impressive margins of victory.
Other New York City incumbents, endorsed by 1199SEIU, successfully defended their Assembly seats; Victor Pichardo (who significantly improved on his 2-vote margin in 2014 with 67% of the vote), Jaime Williams, Alicia Hyndman and Rodneyse Bichotte. They are joined in the Senate by Roxanne Persaud and James Sanders Jr.. In the only City Council race on the ballot, incumbent South Bronx Councilmember Rafael Salamanca won with 62%.
On Long Island, Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre was comfortably re-elected with more than 70% of the vote and in upstate New York, Rochester Assemblyman Harry Bronson defeated his opponent, a well-known TV newscaster, with 54% of the vote.
New faces, progressive activists may be on their way to Albany.
1199SEIU members also worked to elect some new faces to the NYS Legislature. Community activist Jamaal Bailey won 56% of the vote in the Northeast Bronx-Westchester area, even with four other candidates in the race. On Long Island, CWA leader Anthony Eramo won the Democratic nomination in Assembly District 20, paving the way for a strong union activist to win that seat in November’s general election. In Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy, community activist and social justice attorney Tremaine Wright beat back her opponent and in Western New York, another union member, Monica Wallace, a teacher and NYSUT member won the race for Assembly District 143 with the help of 1199 upstate members.
The general election is on Tuesday, November 8, 2016.