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Robert Jackson Announces Bid to Unseat State Sen. Marisol Alcantara

By Carolina Pichardo | May 2, 2017 11:37am | Updated on May 2, 2017 1:18pm
 Former Councilman Robert Jackson is running for the District 31 State Senate Seat.
Former Councilman Robert Jackson is running for the District 31 State Senate Seat.
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DNAinfo/Nigel Chiwaya

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS – Former Councilman Robert Jackson has announced a run for the District 31 state Senate seat for a third consecutive time.

Jackson, who served in the council for three terms, lost his first bid for the state Senate in 2014 to now-Congressman Adriano Espaillat, and then again in 2016 to the current incumbent, Marisol Alcantara.

But Jackson — who officially filed his campaign documents Tuesday — said he's going head to head with Alcantara for the 2018 vote because he's concerned about her choice to join the Independent Democratic Conference, (IDC) which caucuses with the Republicans.

"I officially filed my campaign for State Senate to defeat the IDC and make our voices heard,” Jackson said in a statement. “I am running to build a real Democratic State Senate majority ... It makes me sick to watch the Republicans in Washington and Albany repeatedly attacking our people, our progress and our protections. Yet instead of uniting with us to resist this assault, our State Senator Marisol Alcantara —elected as a Democrat to represent much of Upper Manhattan and the Upper West Side — has turned on us by joining the IDC, a coalition that empowers Trump-supporting Albany Republicans and stymies efforts to pass truly progressive legislation.”

This time, Jackson has the full support of one unlikely backer, his previous opponent from the 2016 elections for the state senate seat, Micah Lasher.

“I’m going to support him enthusiastically,” Lasher said, adding that his support might include campaigning on Jackson's behalf. 

“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that every person that voted for me in 2016 votes for Robert in 2018, because if they supported the things that I stood for when I ran, they will support Robert in this upcoming election.”

“I think the Democrats in the 31st Senate District need to do what Senator [Jeffrey] Klein and Senator Alcantara are standing in the way of happening in Albany, which is to unify, and every day is precious,” Lasher said. “And so my view on this, as soon as it became clear to me that the right thing to do was to not run and to support Robert, I wanted to make sure that everyone knew that’s what was happening, so that we have every available day to unify behind him and make sure he’s the next senator.”

Alcantara won the 2016 seat for the district — which stretches along the West Side of Manhattan from Chelsea up to Washington Heights and Inwood to parts of The Bronx — with 32.43 percent of the vote, compared to Lasher who earned 30.19 percent and Jackson who earned 29.72 percent, according to the Board of Elections results.

Her spokeswoman said she's not concerned about her opponents.

"Senator Alcantara has delivered progressive results for her constituents, including raising the age of criminal responsibility and securing $10 [million] in funding for legal defense for immigrants facing deportation," Lis Smith, Alcantara's spokeswoman, said in an email to DNAinfo New York, "The people who elected her made a judgment that the tired approach of her former opponents was wrong. She looks forward to a healthy debate on the issues affecting the people of her district, regardless of who enters the fray."

Richard Fife, spokesman for Robert Jackson, said in December that the IDC threw $539,558.37 in campaign support behind Alcantara's last race through a Senate Independence Campaign Committee that was set up by the ground to help their candidates. Another $28,000 came directly from IDC members, Fife said at the time.

Lasher said he doesn’t think there’s much of a question of the “unbelievable obstacle” that the IDC creates in passing progressive legislation in Albany, and “we need to fight back, and the best way to do that is to unify at home.”

This isn’t the first time Lasher and Jackson joined forces against Alcantara. The two also denounced Alcantara’s support of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) in December, and then again urged her to vote in support of the Foundation Aid for city schools.