Progressives Have a Chance to Win Big This Year
A statewide victory is, perhaps, in reach
Few unabashed progressives have won statewide campaigns in the modern history of New York. Mario Cuomo got credit in the Reagan 80s for his liberal bona fides, but he did not govern New York the way his reputation suggested he did. Eliot Spitzer, more progressive in orientation than Cuomo, came from a wealthy real estate family and never belonged to any movement politics. Before them, Elizabeth Holtzman, a proud liberal of the 70s, nearly won a Senate seat in 1980; she narrowly lost a three-way race to Al D’Amato that would define New York politics for the rest of the twentieth century and beyond.
To win across New York—either in a primary or a general election—you need a lot of money. Leftist insurgents, traditionally, have struggled badly to pull in the millions required. The internet era has begun to change this. Bernie Sanders became a fundraising juggernaut on the national level and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez outraises most members of Congress. Local races, though, don’t have quite as much grassroots pull. And since New York has some of the laxest fundraising laws in America, incumbents or establishment-aligned candidates running for governor, lieutenant governor, or attorney general can takes tens of thousands of dollars from individual donors or corporations.