Millennial Politics: Meet Harvey Epstein, Progressive New York Assemblymember

In November, New York Democrats made history by securing a true blue trifecta. Democrats technically had a trifecta prior to the 2018 midterm elections, but due to the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of conservative Democrats who caucused with the Republicans, the GOP held control over the New York State Senate. This meant that even though the House Democratic majority repeatedly passed progressive legislation such as the DREAM ActGENDA, and the Reproductive Health Act, the bills would be killed in the Senate before ever having the chance to arrive on the Democratic Governor’s desk.

Six of the eight IDC members were defeated in the primaries by young progressives like Zellnor Myrie and Alessandra Biaggi, while Julia Salazar managed to even unseat a non-IDC corporate Democratic Senate incumbent. But still, going into Election Day, Democrats only held 32 Senate seats to the GOP’s 31, with one of the two remaining IDC members still caucusing with the GOP.

On Election Day, Democrats ended up winning 40 seats in the State Senate, held their veto-proof in the State Assembly, and re-elected Governor Andrew Cuomo with almost 60% of the vote. Already, the Democratic trifecta has passed major progressive immigrationgender identityreproductive freedom, and voting rights legislation, which should give progressives immense hope for the rest of 2019. But the path forward won’t necessarily be easy, especially on big issues like single-payer healthcare. Governor Cuomo has been labeled by progressives as a corporate centrist, a point highlighted intensely during his fierce primary battle with Cynthia Nixon.

Fortunately, New York has some impressive progressive fighters in the legislature ready to go to bat for the long-overdue change New York needs. One such fighter is Harvey Epstein, who was elected to a full term in November with almost 90% of the vote.

Epstein certainly isn’t one to cave to the establishment. He was one of just three state assemblymembers to endorse Cynthia Nixon over Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary. Unlike the governor, he never had to be pressured into supporting single-payer healthcare or legalizing cannabis. Epstein campaigned as a strong progressive dedicated to fixing the MTA, expanding and preserving affordable housing, fighting for fair public school funding, championing social justice, and improving voting rights.

Assemblymember Harvey Epstein joined us on the podcast to discuss his wide array of progressive priorities for this legislative session. Listen on iTunes