Woke policies fall flat as NY suburban Dems fight to take back party in blow to activist liberals

Moderates have broke the “woke” in New York’s Democratic Party.

A left-leaning political revolution that swept over New York City’s sleepy northern suburbs in 2018 and 2020 has receded with outspoken progressive politicians like “Squad” Rep. Jamaal Bowman, Mondaire Jones and Alessandra Biaggi swept out or no longer in office.

The liberal activism unleashed in reaction to Donald Trump’s 2016 election and presidency has taken a nosedive in four years with the hard-left incumbents and candidates defeated and Democrats taking a hard swing toward the center in major races. 5 Westchester County Executive George Latimer, a moderate Democrat, defeated progressive Rep. Jamaal Bowman in a primary election last month. Seth Harrison/The Journal News / USA TODAY NETWORK

“Political power rests on a pendulum which swings back and forth,” New York State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs told The Post.

“When it swings too far in one direction, it is sure to swing back the other way,” said Jacobs, a moderate who is also the Nassau County Democratic leader. “That is what we are seeing today in New York and across the country.

“The pendulum has swung back. The Democratic voters made clear that they favor a moderate approach.”

Controversial policies like “defund the police” and opposing Israel are unpopular positions among rank-and-file Democrats that are pushing suburbanites away from extreme candidates, party officials and strategists said. 5 New York State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs told The Post that the political “pendelum” has swung back to favor moderate Democrats. NY Dems

The shift to the center includes: Two-term incumbent Bowman got trounced by moderate George Latimer last month in the Democratic primary election in the 16th congressional district running from Co-Op City in the Bronx through Westchester County’s leafy suburbs. Biaggi, who won a Bronx-Westchester state Senate after upsetting former Senator Jeff Klein in 2018, lost 2-to-1 in the Democratic primary for Congress against Sean Patrick Maloney in the Hudson Valley in 2022.
Ex-Rep. Mondaire Jones, who abandoned his 17th CD in the lower Hudson Valley in 2022 following redistricting, lost in a primary to moderate Dan Goldman in the 10th CD covering downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn. He is now mounting a comeback for his old seat held by first-term GOP incumbent Rep. Mike Lawler.

Political consultant Jake Dilemani said the changes in the burbs can be a sign of the way the party is going way beyond the state.

Comparing now from a couple of years ago the elected representation in Westchester is certainly more in the hue of mainstream Democrats than far-left Democrats,” he said. 5 Former New York state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi suffered a loss to moderate Sean Patrick Maloney in a 2022 Congressional primary election in the Hudson Valley. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

It became the most expensive House primary in history, partially because it was a message election, Dilemani said.

“That could potentially set up a domino effect for these other members of the Squad nationwide, the next one up being Cori Bush in Missouri,” he said. “So obviously the Bowman-Latimer is significant, but not just for that one district but potentially nationwide ramifications. Get all the stories that move New York to your inbox

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Some of the liberal voices were amplified during Trump, he said, because some Democrats were pushing to vote “as far away from Trump as humanly possible.”

And so in a lot of contests when youre dissatisfied with politics and whats happening nationally, a lot of Democrats cant take it out on Republicans because in a lot of these districts the Democratic nominee is the de facto winner in November, so they take them out on incumbents or mainstream Democrats in a primary,” he said. “ 5 Former Rep. Mondaire Jones is attempting a comeback after losing a primary in the 10th Congressional District to Rep. Dan Goldman. Tania Savayan/The Journal News / USA TODAY NETWORK

But by 2022 in the midst of the Biden administration, the pushback had already begun, he said.

Meanwhile, on Long Island, Republicans have won virtually every major office in a voter backlash after Democrats in Albany approved the unpopular cashless bail law in 2019. But in a bright spot for the party, moderate Tom Suozzi in February won back the Third Congressional District he previously held in a special election after serial fibber, Republican Rep. George Santos, was expelled.  

Centrist John Avlon was able to easily win over the Stony Brook University chemistry professor, Nancy Goroff, in the East End/Suffolk County’s 1st Congressional District.

Jacobs said Democratic voters are “clearly rejecting extremism” while claiming Republican Party is embracing it by renominating Trump for president. see also Pols cheer ‘Squad’ member Jamaal Bowman’s double-digit loss as ‘karma’ for far left

“This trend debunks the Republicans false narrative that the Democrats are the party of the Far Left. We are not,” Jacobs said. “We respect their views, but we are a moderate party that promotes common sense solutions to the real everyday challenges facing our states and nations voters.”

Jacobs stopped short of spelling out the issues where moderates carried the day, other than to say being pro-Israel is the sensible position in suburbia, and he previously backed changes to tighten the bail law.

But Democratic campaign strategist Jon Reinish said voters turned against the hard left politicians’ push for policies perceived as more pro-criminal than pro-safety and being more obsessed with bashing Israel than addressing bread-and-butter issues.

“Most voters are common sense voters who reject extremism of any kind and that includes defunding the police and being anti-school choice,” said Reinish, who’s worked with charter schools.

“Voters want to be safe and prosperous,” he added.

The rebellion started in 2018 when progressives toppled four incumbent state senators who were part of the Independent Democratic Caucus that was allied with Republicans the kiss of death in the deeply blue state during the Trump era.

Meanwhile, Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio Cortez also upset veteran Queens-Bronx Rep. Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary that year.

Democratic socialist candidates won six seats in the state Legislature in the prior election cycles.. 

“The far left was ascendant but New Yorkers voters found out they were extremist themselves,” Reinish said.

The Working Families Party, which backs many left-leaning candidates and sometimes is allied with the Democratic Socialists of America, backed Bowman in his unsuccessful race. 5 Rep. Jamaal Bowman was supported in his primary race by the Working Families Party. Gregory P. Mango

But the WFP noted its candidates fared well in state legislative races.

Faced with challenges from the right, we were able to successfully defend every one of our state legislators. We also added three new women of color to the Legislature. New Yorkers want leaders with bold vision who will make real changes to improve their lives,” said WFP sposman Ravi Mangla.

Bowman is still on the WFP ballot line, but the cogressman isn’t running an active campaign to play spoiler and siphon votes from Latimer, the current Westchester County executive.

Latimer is facing pediatrician Miriam Leavitt Flisser, the Republican candidate, in November in the Democratic-leaning district.  

The state legislative races were a mixed bag for the political left.

For the second consecutive time, moderate Assemblyman Michael Benedetto easily defeated Jonathan Soto in the 82nd District in the north Bronx. Soto was backed by Ocasio, the DSA, and the WFP while Brooklyn incumbent Assemblywoman Stefani Zinerman beat back a challenge from DSA insurgent Eon Huntley .

But DSA candidate Claire Valdez won a seat in western Queens, prevailing over Democratic Party-backed candidate Johanna Carmona and incumbent Assemblyman Juan Ardila, who was dogged by sexual abuse accusations, in the 37th district covering Ridgewood, Long Island City and Sunnyside.

DSA incumbents, like most incumbents including Brooklyn Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher  easily won re-election.



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