In its first press release, the coalition describes itself as a “grassroots organization made up of [Senate District] 15 residents, local community and advocacy groups, and New Yorkers who demand transparent political representation and an equitable New York for all.”
Joseph Addabbo, Jr. was first elected to the City Council in 2001, and in 2009 he was elected to the State Senate, unseating Serphin Maltese, a Republican who held the seat since 1989.
Since then, Addabbo has faced a few challengers, but in the last two elections there has been no credible candidate running against him.
The Joe’s Gotta Go Coalition is hoping to change that, but they aren’t looking to mount a challenge from the right. Instead, they want to replace Addabbo with someone they feel would be a more progressive voice in Albany.
The coalition argues that Addabbo “obfuscates and dissembles” on issues that affect his constituents, which just serves to maintain the current status quo in Albany.
They argue that Democrats have an opportunity to achieve a veto-proof supermajority in the State Senate and Addabbo, despite being a Democrat, would be a detriment as he would likely vote in lockstep with the governor. Or Republicans.
While the coalition doesn’t call a lot of attention to it, one issue members are surely thinking of is Addabbo’s voting record on women’s rights issues, namely his vote against the Reproductive Health Act, which among other things protects a woman’s right to an abortion. He was the only Democrat to vote against the legislation.
But the coalition also argues that Addabbo would fall short on other issues like the Green New Deal, solving the homeless crisis, and making sure the Department of Education replaces the Gifted & Talented programs.
They also allege that Addabbo takes too much money in the form of campaign contributions from corporations and the real estate industry.
We’re sure Addabbo would have a slightly different take on some of those criticisms, but he will have to wait until the coalition finds a candidate to challenge the state senator to tell his side to the voters.
And while the press release doesn’t name anyone specifically, we assume the coalition is looking for another Democrat to challenge Addabbo in a primary next year.
As we mentioned before, after defeating Maltese, Addabbo has never really faced a serious challenger. He defeated former councilman Anthony Como in 2010, Councilman Eric Ulrich in 2012 and Republican Michael Conigliaro in 2014, never losing by less than ten points.
But this would be the first time that Addabbo would face a challenger from his own party. If the coalition can find someone not only credible but progressive in the vein of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to run, it might force Addabbo to move further to the left.
And if the Queens Republican Party wasn’t in shambles and a shell of itself, they could conceivably have a chance to win back the seat by hitting Addabbo on some of the positions he may or may not take in a primary, stances that might alienate the conservative voters – of which there are plenty – in the district.
It wouldn’t be unlike Tiffany Caban’s showing in the Queens district attorney’s race. Her far-left views on the issues forced the other candidates to move closer to her position or risk losing votes. And as we saw, she nearly pulled it off.
We suppose Ulrich, who will be forced out of office due to term limits, is a viable candidate. However, the Queens GOP seems more interested in running “moderate” Democrats these days in the general election as opposed to tried-and-true Republicans.
On the other hand, maybe “moderate Democrat” describes Ulrich perfectly!