ALBANY - Queens State Sen. Jose Peralta’s decision to join the maverick Independent Democratic Conference has cost him membership in his local party club.
The New Visions Democratic Club voted to expel Peralta and keep him out until he rejoins the Senate’s mainline Democratic Conference. Peralta had been a member since it was created in 2007.
“The New Visions Democratic Club has taken the position that State Sen. Jose Peralta should return to the Democratic Conference immediately,” President Shekar Krishnan told the website DNAinfo, which first reported the move.
Peralta on Monday shrugged off the club’s decision as part of an effort to ingratiate itself with the Queens Democratic Committee. He defended his decision to join the IDC, which has joined with the Senate GOP in a leadership coalition.
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“This is all about protecting my constituents and that's why I made the decision and I don't regret it,” Peralta said. “When people see that time and time again that I am the same progressive Democrat that I have been for the last 14 years…people will realize that it was a good thing.”
Bronx Sen. Jeff Klein, the leader of the IDC also defended Peralta’s move and said recent protests against him were being done by “outside agitators” at the behest of the mainline Senate Democrats.
Klein also said he agreed with fellow IDC member Sen. Marisol Alcantara’s recent charge that the attacks against her and other recent IDC additions, including Peralta, are racially motivated.
“I don't think there's any coincidence when members of color join the IDC...all of sudden now, they are being attacked, that somehow there decision was financially motivated because of child support payments or anything else,” Klein said. “That's obnoxious and yes that is racist.”
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Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Westchester County) rejected Klein’s charge as “outrageous and dangerous.”
“The reality is we have a group of rogue Democrats who are empowering Trump Republicans, and blocking me from becoming the first woman and first African American woman Senate President or co-President,” Stewart-Cousins said. “It is sad that they are now insulting and calling the protesters who are demanding Democratic control of the Senate racist. We need to work together to stand up for the people of New York and not throw around dangerous and offensive accusations.”
Alcantara, in statement Monday, slammed Stewart-Cousins.
“When legislators of color make decisions based on helping their constituents, they are demonized and accused of having a financial motivation,” Alcantara (D-Manhattan) said. “That's what's happening here, and it's racist. The members of the Independent Democratic Conference supported me, the first female Dominican Senator ever elected to this body while Senator Stewart-Cousins, as usual, sat on the sidelines.”Send a Letter to the Editor