Photo: Hans Pennink/AP
In 2018, a blue wave washed over the state Senate, replacing many entrenched incumbents with a new generation of Democratic leaders.
Two years later, a similar wave could be washing over the State Assembly.
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Brooklyn's Joe Lentol has represented the 50th Assembly District since 1973, which covers Williamsburg and Greenpoint -- neighborhoods that have undergone a massive transformation with new residents. He is facing a primary challenge from activist Emily Gallagher.
"I can’t say I’m surprised," Lentol said. "But I guess it’s a less of a surprise these days because there are more folks, with the election of Donald Trump, maybe think that think there should be different people in office, whether they are socialists or progressives or whatever you want to call them."
"I think that it is a new era, not just in this community but in New York state politics in general," Gallagher said. "And the response is, we need a fighter who is willing to stand up to [Gov.] Cuomo and stand up to the power structure there."
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In the 36th Assembly District, which covers Astoria, Queens, there has been a huge demographic shift to a much younger and more progressive -- even socialist -- voter.
This area was Ground Zero in the fight over retail giant Amazon, which wanted to build a new headquarters. Opponents ultimately prevailed.
"Amazon certainly did motivate a lot of my neighbors," said Aravella Simotas, the Assemblywoman for the district. "I’m proud that I was, I think, the only elected official in western Queens who did not sign on to the letter from the governor inviting Amazon to come to western Queens in the first place.”
Simotas is facing a challenge to her left from housing advocate Zohran Kwame Mamdani.
"In Astoria, we have been in a housing crisis, one that existed prior to this pandemic. And we are also one of the most progressive districts in all of New York state. And for us to have these two twin facts while having a representative who has taken tens of thousands of dollars from the real estate industry," Mamdani said.
In 2018, most Democratic members of the breakaway IDC group, which had an alliance with Senate Republicans in Albany, were defeated.
Now, one of those former IDC senators, Jesse Hamilton, is attempting a comeback as he runs for the Assembly.
"The only thing I did with the IDC -- I feel like I am [Colin] Kaepernick: I took a knee for my community," Hamilton said. "We have schools in Brownsville where only like 14 percent of the students are reading at grade level. So we bought computers. We bought more 3-D printers than any other state Senate office in the state."
The 43rd Assembly District covers Crown Heights in Brooklyn.
It’s represented by Diana Richardson, who declined to speak with us on camera. She had a big falling out with the Democratic county organization and did not receive its endorsement.
"There are a lot of games being played right now where I am concerned in the 43rd Assembly District, and there are a lot of games being played right now in central Brooklyn," Richardson said in a post on Facebook earlier this month.
Insiders say there are at least seven seats in the Assembly that could flip. All are in the five boroughs and remain solidly Democratic seats, so whoever wins the primary is likely to go on to win in November in the general election.
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