Independent Dems lose in New York Senate races as party activists flex muscle

Independent Dems lose in New York Senate races as party activists flex muscle
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For years, a rump faction of centrist and conservative Democrats gave Republicans control of New York’s state Senate, frustrating liberals who wanted to pass a raft of progressive legislation.
 
On Thursday, six of the eight members of the so-called Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) lost their bids for reelection.
 
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The members of the IDC had formally dissolved their caucus earlier this year, an agreement brokered in part by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and Rep. Joseph Crowley (D), the powerful boss of the Queens County Democratic Party.
 
But the rapprochement did not quell voter anger, and many of those who once caucused with minority Republicans lost their Democratic primaries on Thursday.
 
“Democratic activists certainly flexed their muscles. The IDC was hated by many Democrats,” said Evan Siegfried, a Republican strategist in New York City. “They felt they had betrayed the Democratic Party.”
 
State Sen. Jeff Klein, who made himself one of Albany’s most powerful politicians as head of the IDC, lost his reelection bid in the Bronx to Alessandra Biaggi, 32, a former top aide to Cuomo and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPompeo: 'We've not been successful' in changing US-Russia relations Michael Moore ties Obama to Trump's win in Michigan in 2016 The Memo: Could Kavanaugh furor spark another ‘year of the woman’? MORE.
 
Klein spent more than $2 million in his bid for another term, about 10 times what Biaggi had to spend.
 
Klein’s former deputy leader, David Valesky, also lost his reelection bid for the district in and around Syracuse. Valesky spent 10 times the amount that his challenger, Syracuse University administrator Rachel May, had to spend on her race.
 
State Sens. Tony Avella, Jose Peralta, Jesse Hamilton and Marisol Alcantara, all former IDC members who represented districts in New York City, lost their primary bids as well.
 
Only two former members of the coalition, Sens. David Carlucci of Rockland County, just north of the city, and Diane Savino of Staten Island survived.
 
Democrats in Albany had raged at the IDC for handing Republicans control, a position that allowed the GOP-IDC alliance to block measures on gun control and abortion rights.
 
“They were elected as Democrats on Democratic values. But when you coalesce with the Republicans, you accept their values over yours,” said Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D), who chairs the state Legislative Women’s Caucus.
 
“Things that were important to the Democratic electorate didn’t happen because of their alliance” with Republicans, she said.
 
Democrats still have work ahead of them to reclaim control of the state Senate, even as they hold 32 of 63 seats.
 
One of their members, state Sen. Simcha Felder (D), still caucuses with Republicans, handing the GOP control of the upper chamber. Felder won renomination on Tuesday with 66 percent of the vote.
 
But Democrats will target several Republican-held seats where Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won a plurality or majority of the vote in 2016. Clinton won more votes than President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE in nine Republican-held districts.
 
“Votes again made it clear that this is a new day and politics as usual are no longer acceptable,” state Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.
 
“Senate Republicans have held New York back for too long, and the oncoming blue wave will elect a functional Democratic majority in November,” she said.
 
If Democrats pick up enough seats to regain control of the state Senate, New York would be the ninth state in which the party controls both the legislature and the governorship, along with Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii, Delaware, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
 
Republicans hold control of all levers of government — also called a trifecta — in 26 states.