NY State Senate Focus: Two Key Races for Reform
But there are key State Senators who are central to the dysfunction. Almost all of the Republicans are obstructionists who refuse to support reform in NY State. But also some Democrats are obstructionists who collaborate with the Republicans in the dysfunction. Among these obstructionist Democrats are Pedro Espada, Ruben Diaz, Shirley L. Huntley, Carl Kruger, and William Stachowski. (Getting rid of Hiram "Slasher" Monserrate was a first, very important step). If we can get rid of any or all of these losers, we will be taking a step towards genuine reform in Albany. However, not all of them have viable challengers who are worth supporting.
There are two challengers in particular, though, that I would like to highlight as well worth our attention and support: Lynn Nunes challenging Shirley L. Huntley in Queens and Charlie Ramos challenging Ruben Diaz in the Bronx. Both have been endorsed by Democracy for NYC, which, along with some coverage on the Albany Project, drew my attention to them. Since both DFNYC and the Albany Project are leaders in the reform movement, I take their recommendations seriously.
ALBANY REFORM IN THE BRONX (DISTRICT 32):
One of the most venomously anti-gay members of the New York State Senate is not some Teabagger Republican, but is pseudo-Democrat, friend of Hiram "Slasher Monserrate" Ruben Diaz, Sr. This guy is one of the prime examples of what is wrong with Albany. Diaz is also one of the traitorous "Gang of Three" who deliberately derailed reform in Albany by joining Slasher Monserrate and Pedro Espada in switching to the Republican party in a cynical power play that made New York state the laughing stock of the country. Diaz is also anti-choice and opposed to life-saving stem cell research.
Charlie Ramos, the former Bronx liaison for the Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. is challenging Rubin Diaz. I endorsed Charlie Ramos for State Senate in District 32 (Bronx) some time ago. Ramos, in sharp contrast to Diaz, believes (from his website):
Civil Rights: Every individual’s civil rights must be protected; discrimination and harassment based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or physical and developmental ability should be banned.
Reproductive Freedom: Women and men – not politicians – deserve the right to make personal decisions about their reproductive health in accordance with their own personal and moral beliefs.
In other words, he is not anti-gay (like Diaz) and is pro-choice (unlike Diaz).
This has led to some of Ramos' strongest support. Most recently, Empire State Pride Agenda endorsed him. From the Albany Project:
...Empire State Pride Agenda endorsed Charlie Ramos for State Senate. This might not surprise some of you; Charlie is running against the fiercest opponent of marriage equality and LGBT rights in the New York State Senate. But it's not just that ESPA endorsed Charlie, but rather that Charlie was the only candidate running in a competitive Democratic primary to receive the endorsement of the organization at this time.
As we've discussed previously, there are many targets in the fight for marriage equality, including 6 Democrats that voted against marriage equality (excluding Monserrate and Onorato). We have competitive primaries against three of them; Diaz Sr., Huntley, and Stachowski. As we get closer and closer to the primary, progressive advocates will need to start choosing races to invest their time and resources in order to maximize our success this cycle. After all, we're competing in an environment with more targets than ever before.
That's why I'm supporting Charlie. Not only is Charlie running a strong grassroots campaign in the Bronx with a great legion of field volunteers, but he's also the best candidate to maximize our strike against opponents of marriage equality. Taking down Ruben Diaz Sr. will send the strongest message to swing votes in the State Senate that voting against equality is a losing issue and we'll come after you if you vote against it again. It's the maximum bang for our buck.
It's clear today that Empire State Pride Agenda figured that out. They join Stonewall Democrats and Marriage Equality New York from the LGBT front (as well as many other progressive organizations). Will more progressive and LGBT organizations get it and start supporting Charlie? Stay tuned.
On a related note, Harvey Milk Day Remarks by Charlie Ramos:
Candidate for State Senate in the Bronx/District 32 Charlie Ramos speaks at Harvey Milk Day celebration in New York City on Saturday, May 22, 2010.
Democracy for NYC has also endorsed Ramos. Here is a video DFNYC sent out:
You can learn more about Charlie Ramos, and find out how you can help him beat Ruben Diaz, Sr., by visiting his website.
ALBANY REFORM IN QUEENS (DISTRICT 10):
This is a new one for me. It was off my radar but one fellow blogger first mentioned it to me, it was mentioned on Albany Project, and DFNYC endorsed in this race some time ago, beating me to it. So finally I have started paying attention to it.
Lynn Nunes is challenging obstructionist incumbent Shirley Huntley. Lynn Nunes strikes me an excellent candidate. In a City Council race last year, Nunes took on Tom White and came within six votes of beating White, the incumbent, despite having far less money and no support from the Democratic or Working Families parties. This suggests a good ability to campaign and organize. From Nunes's website:
Like many New Yorkers, Lynn’s parents were immigrants who came to the United States seeking new opportunities and better lives. His Brazilian father and Chinese mother instilled a strong work ethic in Lynn from an early age. His mother worked odd jobs and his father served with the property service workers union, 32BJ, for 10 years, including a tenure as a shop steward.
Lynn is a proud product of Southeast Queens – he grew up in Richmond Hill and attended elementary, middle and high school in the community. As a teenager, he found his public voice by attending community board meetings and writing to elected officials. After graduating from college, Lynn decided to start his own business in the community
where he was raised. He began selling products at local flea markets and later would form the real estate company that he currently owns and operates on Jamaica Avenue in Richmond Hill, Queens.
Public service has always been a priority for Lynn. In response to the foreclosure crisis in Southeast Queens, Lynn founded Save Your Home, an organization that helps families in risk of losing their homes. He is co-founder of The New Progressive Democrat Club and has been actively involved in his Community Board as well as a number of local civic associations. In 2009, Lynn decided to take the leap into politics by running for City Council. Over the course of the campaign, Lynn and his volunteers knocked on thousands of doors of households in the district, listening to voters concerns and suggestions. Lynn and his team did not have the backing of the county party, the Working Families Party, any
prominent elected officials or local civic groups, but came within four votes of an unprecedented upset against the incumbent Council member.
Since that time, Lynn has continued to fight for the issues that mostly affect his community, such as unemployment and quality of education. At the urging of local residents eager for real political representation and change, Lynn has decided to run for State Senate. Always a fighter, Lynn is driven by his love of Southeast Queens and his commitment to the people of the community.
Lynn Nunes has been endorsed by:
* Democracy for New York
* 504 Democratic Club
* New York Uprising
* South East Queen Civic Society
* Clifton Stanley Diaz, Chairman of the Board of the Board of Rochdale Village
* Councilman Daniel Dromm
* Lynn Schulman, Community Activist
* Stonewall Democratic Club
* Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club
And I am happy to add my endorsement to the list. To get involved, please visit Nunes's website.
In the general election I am still interested in Mike DiSanto's challenge to obstructionist Republican Martin Golden. But for the primaries these two races strike me as the best to focus on. And if we want to reform Albany, we'd better get to work on them!