City Council Progressives Fund-Raise for a Democratic Senate

Councilman Brad Lander and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at today's hearing. (Photo: William Alatriste/NYC Council)
Councilman Brad Lander, a leading progressive, and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. (Photo: William Alatriste/NYC Council) (Photo: William Alatriste for NYC Council)

A slew of left-leaning City Council members gathered in Chelsea last night to fund-raise for an endangered State Senate Democrat, sources told the Observer.

The fund-raiser, held at the home of Kate Linker, a board member for the liberal activist group Greater NYC For Change, brought in an undisclosed amount of cash for State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk, an upstate Democrat facing a stiff challenge from Republican George Amedore. The fund-raiser was held the same night as a rally for the Working Families Party, the labor-backed group also fighting for a Democratic takeover of the senate.

Ms. Tkaczyk was in attendance, along with Council members Brad Lander, Julissa Ferreras, Jimmy Van Bramer, Corey Johnson and Mark Levine, sources say. State Senators Michael Gianaris, the head of the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, Brad Hoylman and Liz Krueger were at Ms. Linker’s home as well. The fund-raiser represents the latest effort by city elected officials to insert themselves into Albany politics, where Mayor Bill de Blasio has become an increasingly relevant player.

The Republican Party and the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of five breakaway Democrats, currently serve in the majority. Earlier this year, Mr. de Blasio helped broker a deal for the Senate Democrats to govern in the majority with the IDC next session, putting the GOP in the minority. But recent polls show Republicans leading in many swing races, including Ms. Tkaczyk’s, and the GOP is holding out hope they can stay in the majority and foil the new power-sharing agreement if they win enough seats.

For Mr. de Blasio and liberal council members, a Democratic majority is necessary if they want to enact the full breadth of their agenda. The Progressive Caucus Alliance, the political arm of a large group of left-leaning council members that now dominate the 51-member body, wants to push through a minimum wage hike in the city that Senate Republicans do not support. Some council progressives are also looking to repeal a decades-old rent control law that Republicans–and a wide array of more moderate Democrats–want to keep in place.

A spokesman for the Senate Democrats declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the Progressive Caucus did not immediately return a request for comment. City Council Progressives Fund-Raise for a Democratic Senate