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NY State Senate Candidate Rachel May Hopes Disbanded IDC Leads to Progressive Legislation

Scott Willis/WAER News

New York Senate Candidate Rachel May says the disbanding of the Independent Democratic Conference might open the door for progressive change in the state.  The IDC was a small faction within the Democratic Party that typically caucused and voted with Republicans.  May is challenging incumbent David Valesky, a now-former IDC member, for the 53rd district seat.  She says she hopes to help change the attitude in the State Senate.

"We have been working for a year to raise awareness about the IDC, but it really hasn’t been a campaign against the IDC, it’s been a campaign against the cynicism that underlies saying one thing and doing another and taking their voters for granted."

May says she’s focused on campaign finance reform, criminal justice reform, equitable public school funding, and the New York Health Act. She says people in the region need to feel that they can trust their representatives, and that their vote matters.

Credit Scott Willis/WAER News
May's supporters came out to her campaign announcement in January to join her grass-roots movement against the IDC.

“We already have a lot of people who are excited. I’ve been making hundreds of phone calls. What I was hearing was a lot of people who are really frustrated with their representation in the Senate in general because my opponent has been taking them for granted. I expect to have lots of volunteers going door-to-door for it to be a real people-powered campaign.”

May has a history of grassroots activism in the area, which she says she feels puts her in a better position to understand and respond to her base.

"People really want progressive democrats who are fighters so business in Albany isn’t done behind closed doors and in the dark. I have to say the other challengers of the IDC are a really impressive group, and I hope I will get to serve with many of them in 2019."

May’s opponent, incumbent State Senator David Valesky could not be reached for comment.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at