The New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America is taking a victory lap in the wake of Julia Salazar’s big win over state Sen. Martin Dilan in last week’s Democratic primary.
Salazar, a Democratic Socialist, came up big against Dilan, a seven-term incumbent, in the Sept. 13 primary in the 18th State Senate District, beating him by nearly 6,000 votes.
The NYC Democratic Socialists of America (NYC-DSA), which endorsed Salazar, said her victory signals a new era in state politics.
Because there is no Republican running in the Senate district, Salazar’s win in the primary is tantamount to winning the seat outright. She is running unopposed in the general election on Nov. 6.
Dilan was first elected to the state Senate in 2002. The district includes parts of several Brooklyn neighborhoods, such as Bushwick, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Cypress Hills, City-Line, East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Brownsville.
NYC-DSA leaders vowed to get the troops out to work to ensure Salazar get a big vote total in November.
But for now, the party is savoring the sweet taste of victory following the primary.
“This victory was made possible by the hard work of DSA activists and volunteers who were in the streets, knocking on doors and making phone calls every day this summer to engage voters,” NYC-DSA Co-Chairperson Abdullah Younus said in a statement.
Once she secures victory in November, Salazar will become the first open socialist in the New York State legislature in nearly 100 years, according to NYC-DSA.
Party leaders praised Salazar for running a grassroots campaign that relied on small-dollar donations as opposed to corporate donors. Her campaign platform included universal healthcare, affordable housing, universal rent control and free college tuition.
“This primary was about the movement of socialists, tenants, immigrants and working New Yorkers who are ready for a change in Albany. We are excited to hit the ground running with new leadership in Albany to make the priorities of working people a reality,” stated NYC-DSA Co-Chairperson Bianca Cunningham.
Salazar found herself embroiled in controversy in the last stages of the primary campaign.
With less than a week to go before the primary, the first-time candidate issued a defense of herself after reports of a 2011 arrest came to light and rumors of an affair with New York Mets legend Keith Hernandez surfaced.
Salazar, 27, put out a lengthy statement on her campaign website disputing media accounts of her arrest and denying an affair with Hernandez, who is 37 years her senior.
As first reported by www.dailymail.com, Salazar was arrested seven years ago in Florida after Hernandez’s ex-wife filed a complaint against her.
In 2010, when she was living in Tequesta, Florida, Salazar was friendly with Hernandez and his wife Kai. Salazar said that after the couple separated, Mrs. Hernandez often asked her to house-sit when she was away.
Kai Hernandez filed a police report in March of 2011 charging that Salazar attempted to gain access to her bank accounts fraudulently by impersonating her.
“I willingly went to the Police Department to speak to the detective,” Salazar said in her statement, “after which I was interrogated and accused of, among other things, having an affair with Keith Hernandez and of attempting to steal from Kai.”
Salazar was arrested on charges of criminal use of personal information, according to the New York Times.
“Thankfully, the district attorney quickly recognized that these accusations were baseless, and no charges were ever filed against me,” Salazar stated.
Salazar also faced criticism over apparent discrepancies in her biography.
Her campaign claimed that she was born in Colombia, when she was born and raised in the U.S.
Her past did not seem to bother Democratic voters, who handed her a victory.