Democratic socialist Julia Salazar overcame intense scrutiny of her personal life to win the Democratic primary for a state Senate seat in Brooklyn while voters throughout the state punished a group of incumbent Democratic legislators they perceived as too friendly to Republicans. Salazar, a 27-year-old first-time candidate, handily defeated 67-year-old eight-term incumbent Sen. Martin Dilan in New York's 18th District on Thursday night, joining the ranks of leftist insurgents nationwide who have knocked out mainstream Democrats. There is no Republican candidate running in the district in the general election, virtually guaranteeing her the seat, the AP reports. Assuming she wins, Salazar would be the first socialist state senator in a century, reports the Cut.
In recent weeks, the race became a soap opera as reporters dug into Salazar's background. She faced criticism for saying she was an immigrant from Colombia who struggled financially growing up when she was actually born in Florida and had hundreds of thousands of dollars in a trust fund. Her victory came on a night when primary voters also took their revenge on a splinter group of Democratic state senators who broke with the party to join a group that supported Republican control of the chamber. Despite a political deal earlier this year to end the schism, six of the eight members of the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference were ousted in party primaries Thursday. (Gov. Andrew Cuomo fended off a Democratic primary challenge from Cynthia Nixon.)