Sunday, 25 Jul 2021

Watch out, NY Democrats: Socialists gunning to double their ranks in Albany

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Watch out, New York Democrats. Another far left hook is coming.

In an extraordinarily candid discussion, the state elected officials who are Democratic Socialists said they were appalled after seeing for the first time how the Democratic-run Albany legislature operates.

Five of the six lawmakers who vented at the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America virtual meeting Tuesday night were elected in 2020 and experienced their first year in the legislature. The sixth DSA member, Brooklyn state Sen. Julia Salazar, was elected in 2018 and is serving in her second term.

They said there’s too much secrecy. Too many bills with popular support that fail to get to the floor for a vote. And there are too many phony legislators who give lip service to legislation merely to appease activists, not because they mean it.

One DSA solution: run more socialists and oust entrenched get-along Democrats in the 2022 primary elections.

Queens Assemblyman Zohran Mamdani, a DSA member who defeated Democratic incumbent Aravelloa Simotas for the Astoria seat last year, was blunt.

Mamdani said there needs to be a functional change in how the legislature operates and a push to “change the minds of public officials and sometimes also change the public officials — to be quite frank.”

Party spokesman Michael Whitesides told The Post that the DSA wants to double its footprint in the legislature from 6 to 12 members in the 2022 elections — which likely means running candidates in some instances against veteran incumbents.

It’s no idle threat. DSA and other leftist groups have supported insurgents and helped defeat more than half dozen Democratic incumbents in the last two election cycles — the most famous being Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning upset of ex-Congressman and Queens Democratic Party chairman Joe Crowley in 2018.

Others participating in the meeting included Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher, who toppled 48-year veteran Democratic incumbent Joe Lentol last year; Assemblywoman Phara Souffrant Forrest, and Marcella Mitaynes, all of Brooklyn. Brooklyn Sen. Jabari Brisport also participated in the session entitled “Why Big Bills Didn’t Pass with NYC-DSA.”

“The status quo is not tenable,” said Mamdani, who served as moderator. “We have to figure out how to change this.”

The socialist caucus discussed successes this year, such as the legislature raising taxes on the wealthy as part of the state budget, along with a dedicated $2.1 billion pandemic fund to aid illegal immigrants/undocumented workers.

But Mamdani and Brisport complained that the NY Health Act to provide universal health care and climate change legislation did not come up for a vote this year, even though a majority of members in both houses were co-sponsors.

“There were life changing bills that could have been brought up this session. They ended up…not even coming up for a vote,” Brisport said.

“The bitterest pill to swallow was the NY Health Act.”

Mamdani said, “Why is this happening? Why are these bills not moving? Who is controlling the process,” Mamdani said.

“There is great incentive not to talk about this. There is great incentive not to connect the dots.”

They acknowledged that unions representing government workers — who negotiate health benefits in contract talks — opposed the universal health care bill.

Mitaynes complained that the legislative leaders — Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bron) and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) control the flow of legislation. She said they have influence over the committee chairs and assignments.

Reps for Heastie and Stewart-Cousins had no immediate comment.

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