It's that time of year again! The time for the complicated New York state and local primary system! This year, our primary elections is going to be held on Thursday, September 13th, because the Tuesday when the election normally would have been held is September 11th. I understand not having an election on September 11th, but I don't know why they decided to hold the election on a Thursday instead of the next Tuesday. But I don't pretend to understand how New York decides their many primary dates.
This is an emotionally fraught primary year for me. I am faced with a very challenging choice between a moderate member of a political dynasty and an actress with no political experience. I'll go on record saying I am not a huge fan of Andrew Cuomo (unless he becomes president in 2020, and then disregard this, I guess?). I think his feud with Mayor Bill deBlasio is unbelievably petty and harming New York City, his unwillingness to effectively fund the subway makes all our lives harder, and I have a suspicion he created the IDC, a breakaway group of Democrats that ensured Republican control of the Senate.
I don't have proof of that last claim, but the IDC showed up after Governor Cuomo was elected the first time, and only recently disbanded when Cuomo was faced with a progressive challenger, who ran in part on replacing the IDC. I'm just saying that it was a politically savvy move if Cuomo had engineered it so the Senate was Republican controlled. That way he could support progressive policies, while not actually having to put any of them into practice because they wouldn't be passed by the Senate. It's just not a bad choice for a governor of a progressive state who may also want to run for national office.
So I'm no fan of Andrew Cuomo. But I'm even less of a fan of Cynthia Nixon. I cannot abide actresses and famous people thinking that they can run for office because they know what it's like to be famous. I wouldn't want Ruth Bader Ginsburg performing surgery, she's not trained for it. As a former (and hopefully future) member of the government, I personally place a high value on politics being treated as a profession, not a hobby for the rich and famous.
I thought I could maybe overcome my distaste for Nixon, but as election day looms closer, I just can't seen myself pulling the lever for her. So I had to find some reasons to vote for Cuomo, so I could at least feel ok about my choice.
One thing I'll say about Andrew Cuomo, he's done a lot of things. Of course we can point to $15 minimum wage and paid family leave as recent measures that he could have done under public pressure from Cynthia Nixon. But he also shepherded through same sex marriage in New York and one of the strictest gun laws in the nation. There's an argument that he could do even more now that he has been forced to the left, particularly if the IDC truly does rejoin the Democratic party. But of course...
Ultimately, I'm making my choice for governor based on past experience and trust in a man who I think has mostly run the state well. Cynthia Nixon does represent a new progressive vision, but I do not believe she has the acumen or skills to be successful as the governor of New York. And I don't think I trust anyone to be governor if they've never sat through a community board meeting, and something tells me she's never sat through one.
The choice for lieutenant governor is much easier for me. It's got to be Jumaane Williams. No competition. Williams has a long track record of fighting gun violence and supporting tenants in his district. His ratio of bills introduced to bills passed is excellent, meaning he's an incredibly effective legislator. He is well-liked in his district. On top of all of the great things about Jumaane Williams, I don't like Kathy Hochul because once she trash-talked women's colleges. I don't have a source for that, but I was in the room, it was a women's history event and she said "you go to a women's college if you want to be the wife of a Congressman" and I'm still mad about that.
The Attorney General election is another tough decision. This is a case where instead of being unenthused about both candidates, I'm super enthused about 3 of the 4 candidates. The field is deep with Leecia Eve (former policy advisor to Hillary Clinton), Public Advocate to Letitia James, Zephyr Teachout (progressive warrior) and Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney. No disrespect to Leecia Eve and Sean Patrick Maloney, but they didn't have Issues pages on their website, so I don't know where they stand! To me, this is a fight between Tish James and Zephyr Teachout.
James has the backing of the New York Democratic Party, Teachout has been endorsed by the New York Times. Teachout pledges to fight corruption in Albany, something James does not do. Otherwise, their issues are very much the same. Either would be the first elected female Attorney General, and James would be the first women of color elected. Either woman would be a great choice who would do well in our state.
When it comes to your state and local races, lots of you may not even have a primary to vote for in your district. I certainly don't, but that's ok because I totally trust Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, Councilman Rafael Espinal and Senator Roxane Persaud, who are my current representatives. Long may they all reign!
Finally, I'll briefly address a state Senate candidate running in District 18, who's had a fair amount of controversy following her misrepresentations (or lies, depends on how you see it, I guess) about her background. While this candidate's lack of integrity concerns me, it's nothing compared to my worries about her relatively recent about face on the right to abortion. As of 2013, Julia Salazar was president of a right to life group and today she supports free access to abortion.
You say, Bella, how hypocritical! You who have written about the most effective ways to change people's minds! How can you say that Salazar's change of opinion makes her ineligible to run for office?
I love that people, including Julia Salazar, have come around to the medically correct opinion on the right to an abortion. That's exactly what I want! But I also want people who have a proven track record when it comes to support of reproductive rights. Currently, state laws in New York legalize abortion, but not to the extent laid out in Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade is more expansive than New York law, and elected officials have been working for years to codify the terms of Roe v. Wade into New York state law, through something called the Reproductive Health Act. Senator Martin Dilan, Salazar's opponent, is a co-sponsor of the Reproductive Health Act, which would codify Roe v. Wade into law. Call me a single issue voter, but in a Republican controlled Senate, I'd rather have someone with proven support for abortion than someone who made a dramatic about face fairly recently.
I lied, I have one more thing. And this is a real endorsement, a Bella Pori certified endorsement. Judge Evelyn Laporte is running for surrogate court judge, and you should vote for her. She's a wonderful woman, committed to equal justice, and has years of experience serving as a judge. I know a lot of us just pick randomly when we vote for judges, but I ask you, in 2018: Don't Pick Randomly. Pick Laporte.