In a bid to counter-balance the power of soft-on-crime bail reform advocates in Albany, a new group backed by unions plans to boost moderate Democrats in this month’s state Senate primaries against AOC-backed progressive challengers and incumbent lefties.
“New York is making a comeback. But Albany has failed us when it comes to the safety and the justice we deserve,” a narrator says on one television ad released Tuesday by the newly formed nonprofit “Safe New York.”
It’s organized by pro-Mayor Eric Adams Transport Workers Union president Tony Utano, Jackie Rowe-Adams of the anti-violence organization Harlem Mothers SAVE and reps from groups such as Alliance for Community Preservation and Betterment, New Yorkers for Safer Streets, WSUR Brownstones and Asian Wave Alliance.
“We need state senators who will tackle the current crisis with stronger gun trafficking laws to get illegal guns off our streets and tools for judges to protect us from dangerous criminals,” continues the 30-second spot.
Although the nonprofit is unable to endorse specific political candidates in races according to IRS rules governing charities, the group is circling the wagons around the notion that New York’s criminal justice laws need to be strengthened — or at least restored to their pre-bail reform weight.
The group is expected to spend close to a million dollars on the statewide ad buy, according to a source.
“Public safety on our subways and on our streets has reached a crisis level, and voters need to know what is at stake in the upcoming elections this month,” Utano said.
“It is essential for the future of New York that our leaders make common sense decisions to keep New Yorkers safe, so that our city and state can recover and thrive.”
The message comes on the heels of Adams’ repeated requests that Gov. Kathy Hochul call an emergency session of the Democrat-controlled state Legislature and roll back parts of the controversial bail reform statute.
Hochul shot down the notion, instead blaming judges for not following the law.
Crime will likely become a focal point in several state senate primaries especially in districts where incumbents who defended bail reform are running to keep their seats.
State Sen. Robert Jackson is fending off a challenge from Angel Vazquez, an education and policy advisor for the United Federation of Teachers, for his upper Manhattan seat in the 31st district.
In the 33rd district that covers parts of The Bronx, Sen. Gustavo Rivera is also facing a primary from attorney Miguelina Camilo, who is being backed by the Bronx Democratic Party.
Both Jackson and Rivera oppose changes to the state’s bail laws.
Other races that could heat up include primaries from the left where the Democratic Socialists of America and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got involved.
Both AOC and the DSA endorsed organizer David Alexis in his race against incumbent Sen. Kevin Parker in Brooklyn’s 21st district.
They pair has also backed Kristin Gonzalez, an American Express product manager, in the newly formed 59th district against Elizabeth Crowley, who was endorsed by Adams.
The primary election is scheduled for Aug. 23.