Empire State Indivisible Announces Slate Of Endorsements Prioritizing Candidates Who Are Challenging The Entrenched Power Dynamics Of The Democratic Party


Contact: Ricky Silver | ricky@empirestateindivisible.org | 610–220–6110

New York, NY — Today, Empire State Indivisible announced their first slate of 2020 endorsements throwing their support behind progressive candidates who are standing up to confront the traditional power dynamics in the Democratic party. As part of their official endorsements of Yuh-line Niou for Assembly District 65, Adem Bunkeddeko for Congressional District 9, and Melanie D’Arrigo for Congressional District 3, Empire State Indivisible plans to support the campaigns on the ground for critical volunteer activities including petitioning, canvassing, and GOTV.

Empire State Indivisible formed in the wake of Trump’s election with the focus of mobilizing New Yorkers to hold their electeds accountable, at all levels of Government. The group was a major contributor to the anti-IDC movement which helped deliver a democratic majority in the State Senate and has been pushing for transformational change within the Democratic party to deliver a vision of a fairer, cleaner, kinder and more equitable New York.

“The grassroots movement that toppled the IDC was built by everyday New Yorkers standing up in the face of the worst instincts of politics; instincts that prioritize power over people,” said Ricky Silver, co-lead organizer of Empire State Indivisible. “In 2020, as critical as it is that we take back the White House, our organization is throwing our weight behind candidates running for Congress and the State Legislature that are standing up to the same power dynamics that enabled the IDC. We are thrilled that our first slate of candidates include Yuh-line, Melanie, and Adem, who share our people centric vision for transforming democracy.”

In 2019, a suite of long overdue policy victories including key voting reforms, criminal justice reforms, and major improvements in tenants rights were delivered thanks to the new Democratic trifecta. But the imbalance of power driven by the “three people in a room” negotiations and big-money influences left a number of critical policy priorities on the sidelines. The failure to pass policies like truly transforming our campaign finance system, good cause eviction, and expanding the use of alternatives to isolated confinement (HALT Solitary) speak to the limitations of our political system to uplift the voices of the marginalized. These dynamics will only change when those elected to serve their communities use their position of power to fight corruption, even in their own party.

Yuh-line Niou, Assemblymember in District 65, has been outspoken and unrelenting in her call for more transparency and in tackling corruption in Albany. Yuh-line was one of the few legislators willing to repeatedly stand up and call for true campaign finance reform (Fair Elections) despite the reluctance in the conference. And she was a major force behind the movement to reform unjust housing policies. Unfortunately, Yuh-line’s leadership and independence in her fight to represent her community has left her open to political attacks from those looking to consolidate power. But the grassroots has rewarded Yuh-line’s courage with their continued support.

“New York leads the nation in income inequality, reminding us that we need outspoken advocates in Albany who are ready to fight for a government that works for all of us and not just some of us,” said Kellie Leeson, co-lead organizer of Empire State Indivisible. “Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou understands the issues that matter and has proven during her short time in Albany that she is a fierce ally and is ready to stand up to support tenants, improve our schools and protect the most marginalized among us.”

“I’m honored to receive the unanimous support of Empire State Indivisible and the activists who have made it such a force,” said Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou. “From taking down the IDC to fighting for historic legislation like rent reform and publicly financed elections, Empire State Indivisible has been a leader in the fight for a more progressive New York. I’m proud to have them on my side as I keep building a people-powered movement in Lower Manhattan.”

2018’s blue wave of voter enthusiasm was instrumental in delivering a democratic majority in the House of Representatives in addition to changing the power dynamics in Albany. At the heart of this enthusiasm that drove unprecedented national turnout was the promise from congressional candidates to fight for progressive values and to hold the Trump administration accountable. But not every candidate upheld that promise.

In New York’s 3rd Congressional district, Tom Suozzi’s (D) response to the blue wave of progressive energy was to turn around and join the misleadingly dubbed Problem Solvers Caucus. The Problem Solvers Caucus touts their self proclaimed bi-partisan collaboration between like-minded Democrats and Republicans but when you dig deeper, the parallels with the IDC become incredibly transparent. Largely backed by corporate interests and dark-money groups like No Labels, the Problem Solvers Caucus has continually acted as a roadblock for progressive policy and a limiting force on the House’s ability to hold the President accountable.

Suozzi’s challenger, Melanie D’Arrigo has shown a commitment to fighting against the corruption of big money in our politics and a commitment to organizing locally within her community which has prompted Empire State Indivisible to get involved.

“Our campaign is about restoring Democratic values to a safe blue seat occupied by a corporate politician who caves to the GOP and ignores our district’s priorities,” said Melanie D’Arrigo, candidate for NY3. “My big-money opponent is the Vice Chair of the so-called “Problem Solvers Caucus” — a caucus that much like New York’s IDC, consistently gives in to the Republican Party and pushes legislation that is out of step with our core Democratic principles. I am proud to partner with Empire State Indivisible to unseat representatives who have sold out our party and to pass legislation that will create a safer, more equitable and just society for all.”

The situation in New York’s 9th Congressional district illuminates another power dynamic that has hindered progress for communities across the country. Adem Bunkeddeko is running against Representative Yvette Clarke, a now 14 year incumbent who has remained incredibly passive in her tenure, even as the urgency and importance of progressive leadership has accelerated under the Trump administration. But with the support of the Brooklyn machine much of Representative Clarke’s tenure has gone unchallenged.

This is Adem’s second run for NY9 after many years of public service in the district as a community board member, Working Families organizer and recently as the strategy and innovation officer for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Adem knows his community and understands the hard work and importance of engaging, listening, and organizing — and he came within a point of his incumbent challenger last time around.

Adem is running on the belief that NY9 deserves better, including a leader that will fight for the district and fight for New York. Adem has a clear vision of how Congress members from New York can work together in Washington to leverage their power to support coordinated investments in infrastructure and opportunity for all New Yorkers to be able to thrive in a city that is becoming increasingly unaffordable and inaccessible. Adem will also be an ally and leader in the fight against corruption and inequality at the state and city level.

“For us, it’s all about getting out into our communities and doing the work to engage with people one-on-one, and that kind of commitment is what we look for in candidates,” said Shannon Stagman, co-lead Organizer of Empire State Indivisible. “Adem focuses on the people of his district — they’re his priority. Politics can often feel removed from everyday life, but Adem is out there connecting with his community members every day. He’s ready to take their flights to Washington.”

“Empire State Indivisible is on the frontlines against Trump, applied tireless grassroots activism to defeat the IDC, and helped in the fight to protect reproductive rights and win the strongest tenants’ rights laws in a generation,” said Adem Bunkedekko, candidate for NY9. “With their powerful support, we can win our race in Brooklyn’s 9th Congressional District, fight for progressive policies in Washington, and defeat Donald Trump in November.”

Empire State Indivisible will be joining the campaigns in a more official capacity over the next few weeks as the campaigns move towards petitioning deadlines.

“An Empire State Indivisible endorsement isn’t just a logo,” said Shannon Stagman, co-lead Organizer of Empire State Indivisible. “It’s the commitment to hit the streets, knock doors, and engage the community in a truly people powered way.”

Empire State Indivisible will continue to consider additional candidate endorsements over the course of the next few months.

We use the Indivisible Guide to defend New York against the Trump administration and those in our state government that enable its harmful policies.