While New York is still stuck with serpent king Andrew Cuomo for governor, Tuesday’s midterm elections flipped New York’s state senate to Democratic control and ushered in a number of progressive women at every level, including three candidates who unseated a group of Republican-aligned Democrats. With the majority win, Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins may become the first woman, and first black woman, to lead the New York state senate.
The New York State Senate welcomes first-time challengers Alessandra Biaggi of the Bronx—who defeated Democrat incumbent Jeff Klein, former head of the Republican-allied Independent Democratic Conference, in the primaries; Democratic socialist Julia Salazar, and Jessica Ramos of Queens. Salazar attracted national attention during the primary election for a series of bizarre scandals, including a lawsuit against former baseball player Keith Hernandez’s ex-wife and discrepancies about her identity as a Jewish immigrant. Nonetheless, she ousted state Sen. Martin Dilan with a campaign that focused on making New York a sanctuary state, expanding rent stabilization to all New York apartments, and passing the New York Health Care Act. On the national level, the state elected 29-year-old Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic Socialist who has called for abolishing ICE, to Congress.
At the state level, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James sailed to victory as New York State Attorney General, becoming the first woman and first black person in the role. In September, James became the “first black woman to win a major party statewide nomination,” the New York Times reported, emerging as the winner in a crowded field of Democrats.
Though ultimately challenger Liuba Grechen Shirley did not oust Republican incumbent Peter King in Long Island, a Republican stronghold, the race was close: King prevailed by just 6.6 percent. The gains women made in New York are indicative of a larger trend around the country that put more than 100 women in the House, including a record number of women of color.