A Joe Crowley campaign worker rang my apartment door buzzer Monday night. He handed me a flier and asked if I’d support the 10-term Queens congressman in the upcoming Democratic Party primary.
The young man’s visit couldn’t have been more timely. I told him I was deeply upset Crowley and the Queens County Democratic Party machinery he presides over had that very day endorsed the re-election of Jose Peralta in my state senate district.
The machine’s move is especially outrageous because Peralta isn’t a Democrat. He publicly defected from the party as Trump entered the White House a year ago January. Peralta’s move – seen as financially motivated at the time because of a stipend boost – set off a constituent reaction here in Jackson Heights rarely seen at street level.
Shifting neighborhood dynamics coinciding with Trump’s first eighteen-months of folly have emboldened locals with a political pulse to seek out more active resistance to game-playing and acquiescence by the Dem establishment. When Peralta turned traitor – it was all the talk on 37th Avenue. Peralta got howled out of a community meeting in which he attempted to justify his switch. And then he shriveled from the scene – doing photo ops only on friendly turf.
Enter stage left: a legitimate party primary opponent making an honest, grass-roots run. Jessica Ramos has clear enthusiastic support from those who will not forget Peralta’s betrayal.
With the sight of Ramos campaign signs in apartment windows on the street he lives on, Peralta has now suddenly brokered a return to the Democratic Party with help from the Governor. Only those who slept through Peralta’s well-publicized switch to a caucus room full of republicans will accept the machine’s confounding thumbs-up. Worse, Crowley is badly compromising his own precious credibility on a traitor.
Crowley’s call to crank up the party machine’s power behind Peralta instead of Ramos stinks like Flushing Bay on a summer morning at low tide. All I can guess is that Crowley himself is afraid of the “same old blue just won’t do” movement that’s catching fire here thanks to Cynthia Nixon, Jumaane Williams and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Perhaps Crowley sees a Ramos endorsement as a split from his typical all-out brute muscle given to incumbents no matter their intra-term actions. More likely Crowley sees Ramos using the same policy playbook as his own opponent, which makes him nervous.
Ocasio-Cortez is running against Crowley. She’s not at all afraid of a massive Crowley war chest made fat by contributions from corporations like Honeywell, Aetna, Wal-Mart, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, News Corp, Morgan Stanley – and yes – even my union – the Machinists.
Normally unopposed, Crowley is being pulled to the left by an articulate candidate who is among a wave of young, fresh faces inspired in part by Bernie’s platform.
Unfortunately, the party’s primary elections for Congress and state offices are conducted on different days three months apart. That’s two separate trips to the booth in the summertime that some won’t bother to make although I get the sense the machine’s baked-in get-out-the-vote advantage will be offset by the true blue’s energy level fueled by Peralta’s antics and Cynthia Nixon’s dynamic campaign.
-One aside, just for the record since I was glancing at campaign finance reports while writing the above. My union – the IAM – doles out a lot of campaign dough – much of it to candidates and causes on the left. But they also gave five grand in the last cycle to John Faso – a Hudson Valley republican who takes big checks from the NRA. They also gave five grand to Pete King, a guy who wouldn’t get a cent of my dough if given a choice.
-I took the train down to Philly Saturday for the sold out Hop Along show at Union Transfer. The crowd’s sing along on Well Dressed was stirring. One of my favorite New York bands Nervous Dater played in the slot before and was giddy as they gazed into a room that had at least 800 or 900 people in it.