Hakeem Jeffries pretends to be a progressive. He’s even a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which was once a signal of belonging to the progressive tribe. Hakeem Jeffries, though, is as far from the “progressive tribe” as anyone as corrupt and beholden to Wall Street, crypto-billionaires and Republican-financed AIPAC could be.
He even runs his own slimy SuperPAC meant to defeat progressives. Last month he told City&State reporter Jeff Coltin that “Politically, the left did have some success in primarying Democratic incumbents in 2018, and 2020. But a lot of their electoral momentum began to dissipate shortly after Biden was elected… It’s a question that the Justice Democrats and others have to ask: Why are we losing race after race after race, running against Joe Biden and the Democratic Party? Perhaps the voters are sending us a message.”
He’s so proud— and always brags— that he helped reelect corrupt reactionaries Shontel Brown (OH), Henry Cuellar (TX) and Danny Davis (IL). He rarely mentions victorious progressive stalwarts Greg Casar in Austin and Summer Lee in Pittsburgh who defeated the conservative candidates Team Hakeem was backing. And you’ll never hear him mention the name of Democratic socialist Sarahana Shrestha, who just defeated long-time incumbent Kevin Cahill, a garden variety political hack and careerist not unlike himself.
The Hudson Valley 103rd Assembly District includes parts of Ulster and Duchess counties, including Kingston, Woodstock, Saugerties, Rhinebeck, Red Hook, Olive, New Paltz and Gardiner. A Nepali immigrant, Shrestha is the Ulster County co-chair for the Mid-Hudson Valley chapter of Democratic Socialists of America. She explained her platform like this:
• “End corporate fossil fuels and lower energy costs by as much as 50%, and build 100% renewable energy that exists to serve people instead of for-profit corporations like Central Hudson. We can start to do this by passing the Build Public Renewables Act.
• “Reimagine our housing system to ensure affordable, high quality homes for both renters and homeowners. The housing market that has long been dominated by real estate corporations has torn apart our communities and de-stabilized our neighborhoods. People who grew up in the Hudson Valley can’t afford to live here anymore. Passing a bill like statewide Good Cause Eviction would give 37,000 tenants in Ulster and Dutchess counties the right to renew their lease without having to pay exorbitant rent hikes, and also help to lower property taxes for homeowners.
• “Guarantee universal healthcare— including mental health, substance, long-term, and reproductive care. As a state, New York’s economy is bigger than countries like Sweden, but most of the wealth is hoarded by a very small group of people. The ultra-wealthy need to pay their fair share of taxes so that everyday New Yorkers aren’t bearing an unfair burden. We have enough wealth in New York to make essentials like quality healthcare an everyday part of our lives, thereby improving the lives of all New Yorkers.
• “Fully fund public education centers such as SUNY, schools, and hospitals.
• “Make our democracy more democratic by expanding voting rights, creating transparency, and improving mechanisms to hold our government accountable. Currently we have a closed-door system of governance where corporations and lobbyists have more influence than voters, and where essential and popular bills are blocked in backroom dealings.
• “Create true safety by making available the means, such as job security, healthcare access, and housing security, with which everyone can create stable and healthy homes, and with which young people can have something to work towards. Our current system leaves a vast number of people without guidance, direction, and a sense of community. We need to create a culture of trust and solidarity, rather than division and fear.”
“As a climate organizer, I work with other organizers across the state and country who have a work ethic that is driven by a relentless passion for changing the world we live in. An effective organizer builds relationships, brings people in, and turns our previous inaction to a powerful collective action. Albany is largely missing this kind of work ethic, but recent progressives who have been elected, including the ones who endorsed me, have brought that work ethic to Albany, from which we are already seeing results.”
It was a shock when, in the highest turn-out of all the hotly contested legislative races in the state, she beat Cahill, 7,784 (51.7%) to 7,274 (48.3%), one of just 3 contests where a challenger displaced an incumbent.
Dave Lucas reporting for public radio’s WAMC that Shrestha won the old fashioned way, knocking on doors and talking with voters. “‘We had been meeting a lot of people in the district and had a good sense that we had a lot of support, you know, we had good data on this being a very winnable race, being a very serious race,’ said Shrestha. ‘And as we met more people, you know, we kept building on that data of how much support there was, to vote for a candidate like me, however, you know, we never know who’s going to show up on election day, and we knew that it was going to be difficult, nonetheless, to turn that support into votes.’ In addition to running as a Democrat, Shrestha is endorsed by the Mid-Hudson chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America and the Working Families Party.”
Her platform encompasses everything that corrupt swine like Hakeem Jeffries hate and what he is determined to fight against. This is the kind of thing tantamount to a declaration of war against machine politicians like Jeffries, a negation of everything they have built their careers on and the only way they visualize politics.
But it probably has a lot to do with why AOC endorsed her. Please consider contributing her her general election campaign here.