Progressive candidates in a slew of State Senate primaries withstood an influx of super PAC money and fended off challenges from more center-leaning candidates Tuesday night.
In four key Senate races, three progressive candidates, including democratic socialist incumbent Jabari Brisport in Brooklyn’s 25th District, held off centrist challengers backed by New York City Mayor Eric Adams. Working Families Party-backed state Sen. Gustavo Rivera in the 33rd District in the Bronx also appeared to stave off a challenge from party-backed candidate Miguelina Camilo, whom Adams helped raise money for.
In the wide open race for the newly drawn 59th District, which includes a tiny bit of Manhattan and parts of northern Brooklyn and western Queens, democratic socialist Kristen Gonzalez — a tech worker and community organizer — defeated former Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley of Queens, who had received the backing of several key unions and Democratic party leaders and was the beneficiary of well-resourced super PACs. Gonzalez’s win will expand the reach of the DSA into a third State Senate seat if she prevails in the general election in November.
Adams has butted heads with left-leaning leaders in the State Senate, particularly over issues like bail reform. On Monday, he said he’s backing candidates with more centrist views that focus on victims over those who commit crimes. Those candidates include the controversial Rev. Conrad Tillard, who has a history of anti-gay and anti-Semitic remarks and was aiming to oust Brisport in Brooklyn.
Evan Thies, a spokesperson for Adams' mayoral campaign, pointed out that in five of eight senate races where Adams endorsed a candidate, his selection won their race, including in Brooklyn’s 21st District, which spans parts of Flatbush, Flatlands, and Mill Basin, where the DSA-backed candidate David Alexis, a rideshare driver and former home health aide, lost to incumbent State Sen. Kevin Parker — the exception to the progressive sweep.
"The vast majority of New Yorkers agree with the mayor on the most pressing issues such as crime," Thies said. "When New Yorkers come out to vote, they elect moderate candidates like the mayor."
Super PACs funded by real estate interests, executives from Madison Square Garden, and charter school proponents flooded State Senate races with more than $1.6 million, attempting to push voters to centrist candidates in some of those races, Gothamist reported.
“The Bronx is not for sale,” tweeted Rivera following his triumph over Camilo, a former Board of Elections attorney who had the backing of the Bronx Democratic Party.
This story has been updated with additional comment.