Brooklyn progressive tops long-term incumbent in NY state Senate primary

Brooklyn progressive tops long-term incumbent in NY state Senate primary
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Julia Salazar, a progressive candidate, beat longtime state Sen. Martin Malavé Dilan in the Democratic primary in New York on Thursday, joining the list of leftist candidates to oust establishment Democrats this year. 

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Salazar, a democratic socialist, received 57 percent of the votes for the state Senate’s 18th District race, The New York Daily News reported.

“Tonight’s victory is not about me,” Salazar wrote on Twitter. “Tonight’s victory is about New Yorkers coming together and choosing to fight against rising rents and homelessness in our communities. Together, we will build a better New York.”

Dilan was first elected to the legislature in 2002 and spent a decade on the New York City Council before joining the state legislature. He was recently met with questions about violating campaign finance law by failing to report thousands of dollars in donations.

Salazar, 27, was also reportedly met with controversy when her close ties to Republicans and the real estate lobby were uncovered, The Daily News noted.

She falsely implied she was an immigrant born into a Catholic-Jewish family when she was actually born in the U.S. and neither of her parents practice Judaism, HuffPost reported.

She also claimed to have graduated from Columbia University but Citizens Union, a government watchdog, found she did not have a degree.

Salazar came forward on Tuesday and said she was a “victim of sexual assault” at the hands of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman, David Keyes. 

Dozens of women alleged in recent days that he was physically aggressive toward them, sexually harassed them or made inappropriate comments or gestures, The Times of Israel reported Wednesday.

Keyes denied Salazar’s accusation but said Thursday that he was taking a leave of absence.

"In light of the false and misleading accusations against me and in order not to distract from the important work of the Prime Minister, I have asked to take time off to clear my name. I am fully confident that the truth will come out," Keyes said in a statement to the news outlet.

Salazar ran to left of Dilan on a platform backing single-payer health care, tuition-free public universities, better access to public transportation and establishing universal rent control.

She is a dues-paying member of the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and was endorsed by the group.

“Julia Salazar’s victory is a testament to how much her policy platform resonated with the people of North Brooklyn, some of the fastest gentrifying communities in New York City,” Susan Kang, a leader New York chapter of DSA, told HuffPost. “Her bold platform of fighting for tenants’ rights, immigrants and transit riders matters more than this expensive smear campaign against her, and that shows how important the issues really are.”

Her win follows the political victories of female progressive candidates like Ayanna Pressley in Massachusetts last week and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s June win in New York.

Both women ousted 20-year Democratic incumbents Reps. Mike Capuano (Mass.) and Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), respectively, in primary upsets for U.S. House.

There is no Republican running in the district, all but assuring that Salazar will win the general election.

Updated at 9:03 a.m.