In yet another sign of the ideological dispute within the Democratic Party, a socialist candidate defeated a longtime Democratic incumbent in the primary for a New York Senate seat.
Julia Salazar, a 27-year-old Democratic Socialist candidate, defied critics to defeat 16-year incumbent New York state Sen. Marty Dilan for New York’s 18th District. Dilan, 67, was running for the ninth term in office.
“This was a brutal race, they knew we were a threat to the concentration of wealth and power in this state,” Salazar said in her victory speech. “This is a victory for the oppressed!”
The victory is inspiring comparisons to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who shocked the political world by defeating another incumbent for the nomination for New York’s 14th District.
Unlike Ocasio-Cortez, however, Salazar faced challenges from those who said that she was fraudulently running as a socialist because of her previous support for the pro-life movement. Salazar now says that she regrets those views, and blames her actions on being “exposed almost exclusively to reactionary right wing media and political discourse.”
Salazar also faced criticism for misrepresenting herself as an immigrant from a poor background: She was born in Florida and benefited from a trust fund. She blamed the discrepancies on her staff.
“Tonight’s victory is not about me,” tweeted Salazar after her stunning victory.
Tonight’s victory is not about me.
Tonight’s victory is about New Yorkers coming together and choosing to fight against rising rents and homelessness in our communities.
— Julia Salazar for State Senate (@SalazarSenate18) September 14, 2018
“Tonight’s victory is about New Yorkers coming together and choosing to fight against rising rents and homelessness in our communities,” she added.
Salazar is likely to get the same blowback from Democratic establishment figures and moderates who criticize Ocasio-Cortez for pushing the party too far to the left in a time when they’re trying to resist President Donald Trump and his policies.