OPINION: Will Julia Salazar be the next primary surprise?
With three weeks to go before the New York state Democratic primary on Thursday, Sept. 13, the race has become more interesting than usual, but that’s not saying much.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, seeking election to a third term, faces a challenge from Cynthia Nixon. Although the actress is well-known, she is also a progressive and polls show she has little chance of defeating the popular governor from Queens.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul is facing a challenge from Councilmember Jumaane Williams from East Flatbush. Although most Democrats wouldn’t know Hochul if they sat next to her on the 4 train, she enjoys the powerful support of Gov. Cuomo.
The one race in the primary that remains exciting and a little weird is the Democratic primary in District 18 which includes Greenpoint and Bushwick, one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in New York City.
In this race, incumbent Martin Malave Dilan, first elected to the Senate in 2002, is facing a challenge from self-proclaimed Democrat progressive Julia Salazar. Dilan attempted to have Salazar thrown off the ballot earlier this month because, he claimed, she hadn’t lived in the district long enough. A Supreme Court Justice through the case out and was backed by the Appellate Court.
Salazar, just 27 years old, has received strong support from fellow Democrat Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who upset longtime Queens Congressman Joe Crowley in the June federal primary elections.
The Salazar campaign has been dogged by an interesting twist on the Obama birther scandal. In her case, critics say she lied about being an immigrant from Colombia and was actually born in Miami. They also say she lies about being Jewish.
Salazar says she only said her family immigrated to the Unites States from Colombia and, although she was raised Christian, she converted to Judaism five years ago.
This race pits an old school Democrat with the Mayor’s backing against a young upstart riding on the wave of Ocasio-Cortez.
No one expected Ocasio-Cortez to win.
Jack Ryan is a former newspaper reporter and editor and a former public information officer for New York City.
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