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Democrat to challenge Valesky over IDC membership

Ellen Abbott
Democrat Rachel May is challenging State Sen. Dave Valesky (D-Oneida) in the 53rd district.

State Sen. Dave Valesky (D-Oneida) will most likely face a competitive election this year for the first time since 2010.

Rachel May, an administrator at Syracuse University, is running against him in the Democratic Party primary. She has been leading opposition to Valesky in recent months because of his affiliation with the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of breakaway Democrats that shares power with Republicans in the State Senate.

"They call themselves the Independent Democratic Conference. But they aren’t democratic because they prevent democratic priorities from getting enacted," May said. "And they’re hardly independent, because they are hand in glove with Republicans and they depend for their money on downstate developers and the charter school lobby.”

May says this means Democratic initiatives like protection of women’s reproduction rights, election reform and climate change proposals don’t move ahead.

"Because Trump Republicans control the New York State Senate and they make sure these bills not only come up for a vote, they never come out of committee,” May said. “It’s not because voters have given them the majority, but because a few elected Democrats like my opponent Dave Valesky have decided to hand power over to them.”

Statewide leaders of the Democratic Party in New York have vowed to put an end to the IDC by either forcing them to join Democrats, or supporting primary races against the eight members. Senate Democrats have said they still support a reunification with the IDC, but that reunification would only happen later in 2018. 

Valesky has said he is not concerned about a primary challenge right now. He said his main concern is passing a budget, with the state facing a $4.4 billion deficit.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.