Requiem for the IDC

Stephon Johnson | 9/20/2018, 10:30 a.m.
Primary night in New York State possibly signaled the beginning of something new: elected Democrats pushing a Democratic agenda in ...

Primary night in New York State possibly signaled the beginning of something new: elected Democrats pushing a Democratic agenda in Albany.

New York State progressives hoped Sept. 13 marked the last time the general public uttered the term Independent Democratic Conference after several IDC members met their demise at the hands of challengers on the left.

In the primaries, former New York City Council Member Robert Jackson defeated New York State Sen. Marisol Alcantara, former Hillary Clinton Campaign Operations Director Alessandra Biaggi defeated New York State Sen. Jeff Klein, community organizer Jessica Ramos defeated New York State Sen. Jose Peralta and former New York City Council Legislative Director Zellnor Myrie ousted New York State Sen. Jesse Hamilton.

The only IDC member left standing after last Thursday was New York State Sen. Diane Savino, who won her primary.

So what does this defeat signal? According to New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman, it signals a direct rejection of reaching across the aisle in this day and age.

“I think it’s a signal that coalition politics doesn’t work in Albany,” said Hoylman. “The only thing that stands between Trump and New York is Albany, and I think that realization has set in with Democrat voters.”

New York State Sen. Jamaal Bailey said that the specter of a new, conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice had New Yorkers looking to their locally elected officials for help in areas of labor, women’s rights and health care.

“If they make the mistake of confirming Brett Kavanaugh, we’re looking at the erosion of abortion rights,” said Bailey. “We got sold a false bill of goods with the tax plan.” Bailey cited criminal justice reform, single payer health care and tenants’ rights as important goals for the new-look Democrats.

“New York has to step up and I’m excited about the potential,” said Bailey.

Back in 2011, Klein formed the IDC, labeling current Democratic leadership at the time unsatisfactory. The alliance saw eight Democratic senators in the State Senate align with Republicans leading to Klein and New York State Sen. Dean Skelos sharing majority leadership and effectively killing off a more progressive agenda.

Pundits and elected officials alike have called primary night a rebuke of business as usual and a call for a more progressive wave of politics in Albany. As the alleged “blue wave” looking to change over power in national politics, New York could be ground zero for the idealized agenda. Not so fast, said New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

During a news conference in Manhattan the day after the primaries and his defeat of challenger Cynthia Nixon, the governor pooh-poohed the efforts of progressives in New York State.

“There was a misinterpretation of what happened in the congressional primaries,” Cuomo told reporters. “The congressional primaries were a fluke. The way the calendar worked, between the federal calendar and the state calendar, the congressional primaries were the only election on that day, and that dropped the turnout to a very, very low level. You had some districts where the vote was some of the lowest turnout in history. And then people extrapolated from that turnout. They had all these theories of shifts and movements.”