There’s less than a week until the August Primary caps on Tuesday, Aug. 23, Election Day. Here’s a recap of some of the major State Senate races.

“The redrawing of State Senate lines created very different districts with unusually competitive races. Voters should take this opportunity to know who is running to represent them, and where candidates stand on important reform issues,” said Betsy Gotbaum, executive director of Citizens Union. 

The political battle between ‘old school incumbents’ and DSA progressives is ongoing. Out of the nine Working Families Party/DSA Assembly candidates only two won in June’s primary, reported City & State, indicating a shift. In 2020, all five progressive candidates won their primaries and ousted longtime incumbents.

Senate District 21 now covers the Flatbush, East Flatbush, Ditmas Park, Flatlands, Marine Park, and Bergen Beach neighborhoods due to court-ordered redistricted maps. 

Incumbent Sen. Kevin Parker is plotting another reelection in his almost expansive 20-year career, against new and progressive blood. Parker is up against Kaegan Mays-Williams and Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) backed David Alexis.

Alexis’ platform focuses on housing protections, tenants’ rights, universal health care, and public safety through community investment, said NYC Votes. And like many progressives, he doesn’t believe in taking contributions from real estate or fossil fuel corporations. 

Parker said he’s long been involved in passing legislation on climate change, police reform and combating excessive use of force, the affordability gap for his constituents and seniors, lowering taxes, and anti-domestic violence work. He said that these are not DSA or progressive issues. 

“I’m not going to win or lose my election based on a three-month campaign, I’m going to win or lose based on my record. And the reality is when you look at things that matter I am not just involved in those issues but I’m the leader of those issues,” said Parker at a campaign fundraiser.

In an inverse situation, community activist and Reverend Conrad Tillard is attempting to unseat DSA-progressive Sen. Jabari Brisport in Senate District 25 in Brooklyn. Tillard has even scored the endorsement of Mayor Eric Adams and the historic Vanguard Independent Democratic Association (VIDA), the oldest Black political club in Brooklyn. Brisport’s other challenger is Democrat Renee Holmes.

“The vision and legacy of the Honorable Al Vann have been central to my advocacy and ministry in the district, and VIDA’s endorsement and continued support are critical as I seek to bring the change the district so desperately needs,” said Tillard at a community celebration honoring the late Councilmember Al Vann, VIDA’s founder.

Meanwhile, longtime Senator Robert Jackson is running for reelection to represent the 31st Senate District. Jackson was most recently endorsed by Former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer.

“Robert Jackson is a fearless champion to knock down barriers and promote fairness and equality,” said Ferrer in a statement. “The Bronx is lucky to have him as State Senator.  He understands personally the power of education, jobs and opportunity and has fought to give.” 

In Senate District 30 in Harlem, Sen. Cordell Cleare is running for reelection after winning a special election months ago to replace former Sen. Brian Benjamin, who is still embroiled in a campaign fraud investigation. Cleare said she’s campaigning hard to make sure people in her district are aware of the unusual August primary. Cleare was already a fixture in the community, having worked for years with then-Sen. Bill Perkins as his chief of staff.

“[Cleare] demonstrates a very good grasp of the job. She has a very deep understanding of the issues facing her constituency,” said Ben Weinberg of Citizens Union.

Her opponent is community organizer Shana Harmongoff.

Other fairly competitive races include Senate District 33 in the Bronx where incumbent Sen. Gustavo Rivera is running for reelection, Senate District 59 in Queens where former Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley is running, and in Senate District 26 in Brooklyn where Sen. Andrew Gounardes is running to hold onto his seat.

Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting:

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  1. This article mentions that incumbent Kevin Parker is also up against Kaegan Mays-Williams, but only discusses Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) backed David Alexis. Mays-Williams is an excellent candidate, with years of experience as a public servant (first as an anti-corruption attorney and then working in gun violence prevention and advocacy). She is the daughter of a single-mom from Trinidad, and experienced firsthand the struggles facing working families; she would be a strong voice for the district and its needs. She will represent her district, not the corporate interests and lobbyists, and will not be beholden to DSA positions, either. I encourage your readers to learn more about this exciting candidate, who is passionate about so many urgent issues in our area, from education to food insecurity and maternal health.

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