When State Sen. Marisol Alcantara was sent to Albany two years ago, she was a Democrat. And a Democrat she remained. But she broke from the mainstream members of her party to team up with Republicans to ensure the GOP controlled the state Senate. Alcantara was a member of the Independent Democratic Conference. It's a decision she now has to answer for as she seeks reelection.
She says the breakaway Democratic group, known as the IDC, was more supportive of her candidacy when she first ran in 2016 than establishment Democratic organizations. "They thought that it was important that people that come from my community, people who are immigrant and come from the labor movement, that we can also have a voice and seat at the table," Alcantara said.
The IDC dissolved in April and Democrats in the Senate officially united. But Alcantara's opponent in the Democratic primary fight, former City Councilman Robert Jackson, is not letting her defection go.
"I'm listening to what the people in the district have to say, and everything they say is very positive. They are doing thumbs up, saying 'Don't worry. We are going to get rid of the IDC,'" he said.
Jackson actually ran for this same state Senate seat in 2016 against Alcantara and Micah Lasher, the former chief of staff to former attorney general Eric Schneiderman. Jackson came in third, but was only 533 votes behind Alcantara. Lasher is not running this time, but he is supporting Jackson to lead the district, which stretches along the west side of Manhattan from Inwood all the way down to Chelsea. Jackson says his message to voters is "vote for change."
"Vote for change from the current status quo where the Republicans control the state Senate, where many pieces of legislation that affect the entire city and the entire state are being held up," Jackson said.
Alcantara and Jackson will face off in their first debate Wednesday night at 7 p.m. on NY1's "Inside City Hall."