New York primary: State Senate races to watch

There will be several first-time state Senate candidates on the ballot for Thursday’s Democratic primary.

Several new candidates are challenging incumbents they say have failed at passing progressive legislation and are campaigning as being “real Democrats.” As the upper house of the state’s Legislature, the Senate is where most policies impacting New Yorkers are set.

Thursday will also see Democratic races for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and members of the Assembly.

Only voters registered with a political party will be able to vote in the primaries. (To check the status of your registration or your polling location, go to voting.nyc.) Polls opened at 6 a.m. Thursday.

Here’s a look at the nine Senate races in the Democratic primary:

Former IDC candidates and their challengers

The Independent Democratic Conference is a group of eight elected Democrats who formed a coalition with Republicans in the state Senate, giving them a majority. The IDC disbanded in April, but some are still skeptical of the former members.

Each of them are facing primary challengers, who argue that the IDC prevented progressive legislation like the Reproductive Health Act and the DREAM Act, while receiving perks like extra stipends for being part of the majority. Many of the challengers have pledged to not take any corporate money for their campaigns and have criticized their opponents for doing so.

The IDC candidates, however, blame Republicans for not getting those bills passed. Sen. Jeff Klein (District 34), the ex-leader of the IDC, has argued the group helped pass the $15 minimum wage, the SAFE Act and Paid Family Leave.

Six of the eight former members represent parts of the city. Here are the races by borough:

Bronx: Incumbent Jeff Klein v. Alessandra Biaggi (District 34)

Brooklyn: Incumbent Jesse Hamilton v. Zellnor Myrie (District 20)

Manhattan: Incumbent Marisol Alcantara v. Robert Jackson v. Thomas Leon v. Tirso Santiago Pina (District 31)

Queens: Incumbent Jose Peralta v. Jessica Ramos (District 13), Incumbent Tony Avella v. John Liu (District 11)

Staten Island: Incumbent Diane Savino v. Jasmine Robinson v. Brandon Stradford (District 23)

District 17 (Borough Park, Midwood)

Sen. Simcha Felder is being challenged in a Democratic primary for the first time since he was elected in 2012. Felder has caucused with Republicans, despite being elected as a Democrat, and has wide support from the Orthodox Jewish community in his district. His challenger Blake Morris has campaigned on passing progressive legislation like the DREAM Act, single-payer health care and rent law reform.

District 18 (North Brooklyn)

Newcomer Julia Salazar, a community organizer, is challenging 16-year incumbent Sen. Martin Dilan. Salazar, who has been compared to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic candidate for Congress who defeated 14-year incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley, has been endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America and is running a grass roots campaign. One of the main issues in the race has been the affordable housing crisis. Both candidates say they support reforming the loopholes in the rent laws that favor landlords, but Salazar has accused Dilan of letting contributions from the real estate industry influence him.

Salazar has recently come under scrutiny for things she has said about her background, including that she immigrated from Colombia at a young age. She was actually born in Miami and raised in Florida.

District 22 (South Brooklyn)

Journalist Ross Barkan and counsel to the Brooklyn borough president Andrew Gounardes face off for the chance to run against Republican incumbent Sen. Marty Golden. Both hope to flip the state Senate to a Democrat majority. They agree on many of the issues, but in a recent debate, they each tried to distinguish themselves based on their campaign financing. Barkan argues he is more of a grass roots candidate. But Gounardes, who previously ran against Golden in 2012, criticized Barkan for receiving money from donors in Manhattan, not their district.