Julia Salazar, a 27-year-old Latina Democratic Socialist and first-time candidate won her Democratic state senate primary against incumbent Martin Dilan, who has held onto his seat representing New York City’s 18th district for 17 years.
The race sparked unusual interest, in part because of Salazar’s status as one of the recently anointed “insurgent left” (she was endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez), but increasingly her campaign became beleaguered by questions of inconsistencies in her professed biography. Then, two days before the primary, Salazar tweeted that she was on the verge of being outed as a sexual assault survivor, and accused David Keyes, the spokesperson to foreign media for the Prime Minister of Israel, of sexual assault. (Keyes denied wrongdoing after 12 women accused him of sexual assault on Wednesday; on Thursday he announced he would be taking a leave of absence.)
Salazar’s policies fall squarely to the left of Dilan on several key issues: she wants to abolish ICE and has refused to take campaign contributions from New York’s real estate industry. Salazar also supports sex workers and has proposed steps toward decriminalizing their labor. Salazar has a background as a community organizer.
Gothamist reported earlier this month that since 1999 Dilan has received more money from developers than any state senate Democrat, with the exception of Jeff Klein (former leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of Democrats that critics claim collaborate with and enable Republican agendas). New York City’s mayor Bill de Blasio quietly endorsed Dilan, explaining he did so because they’re close friends, the New York Times reports.
There’s no Republican challenger for the District 18 seat, meaning Salazar is guaranteed to become the first DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) member of the New York state senate. And that is a very good thing.