Yesterday a21-year-old former Staten Island high school star named Saint Jermaine Endely announced that he was mounting a primary challenge against incumbent State Senator Diane Savino.
The Politicker caught up with the four-term incumbent on the floor of the Senate today, and she sounded unconcerned.
“No one is really a candidate until they make the ballot,” she said. “He is a smart young sa, he is a student at NYU. He actually called me last night to tell me that he may not go forward with it, but if he does go forward with it, I am his idol.”
Ms. Savino is one of the more liberal and union friendly Staten Island elected officials. Mr. Endeley says that he is running as a pro-business Democrat who can lure independent voters back into the fold.
“He is really interested in politics and I guess he figures this is a good way to move forward, although I question the strategy of running to the right in a Democratic primary,” the senator said. “A few weeks ago he was looking at a different seat to run for. I think he is looking for an entree into politics as a career goi.ng forward
“When you are an elected official primaries or general election challenges are an occupational hazard,” she added.
Ms. Savino left the Democratic caucus earlier this year to form a breakaway “Independent Democratic Caucus” with three moderate Democrats who said they could not support the leadership of John Sampson.
Next year’s primary will be the first time Ms. Savino faces the voters since leaving the caucus, but she did not anticipate this becoming a problem.
“Look, I am a Democrat. Nobody can doubt that. My decision not to remain inside the Democratic conference is not a rejection of the Democratic Party, it is a rejection of the leadership of the Democratic caucus. Anybody who wants to ask me about it, I am more than happy to talk about. Very few of us have done as much to get us to the majority as myself and Senator [and fellow IDC member Jeff] Klein.”
She added, “I know [fellow Democrats] are disappointed in what has happened, but each of us has to make peace with our decisions and I am at peace with myself and my god and my party.”