Assemblyman Phil Ramos won yesterday's Democratic Party Primary for the 6th District (Central Islip, Bayshore, Brentwood). He did so by beating back a spirited challenge from Waldo Cabrera by a 2 to 1 margin. Lacking a a Republican opponent--and with Cabrera on the Conservative Party line, Ramos is guaranteed re-election in November.
Congratulations to Assemblyman Phil Ramos.
This was, of course, a very unusual race. Here's why:
- Primary challenges are rare in New York State politics.
- As the first elected--and only--Latino state representative East of the Queens-Nassau border, Ramos is a genuine pioneer, and a well-regarded leader. Primary challenges to unseat such individuals when they're still in their prime just don't happen.
- A county executive campaigning to remove an assemblyman--who's a member of the same party--is unheard of. Ramos, who stood up to Suffolk's Steve Levy because of his anti-immigrant policies and on state sales taxes, was targeted by the revengeful county executive.
- The governor stepping in in support of an incumbent during a primary is rare as well. Governor Patterson last week visited the 6th District to boost Ramos. In a sense, Patterson-Ramos defeated Levy-Cabrera.
It seems to me that this contest has strengthened Ramos. Ramos' has consolidated his position and is probably safe from in-party threats for the foreseeable future. I also expect that through Ramos' victory, the pro-immigrant community has been empowered to challenge Suffolk's promoters of anti-immigrant bigotry.
The entrepreneurial Waldo Cabrera is energetic and tenacious. However, after two runs for the 6th District, crossing party lines, challenging a pioneer incumbent in a primary, and doing so in alignment with a polarizing sponsor, it's probably time for Cabrera to re-assess. I hope he does because Cabrera is a fighter and someone genuinely committed to public service. I can see him re-connecting with the community and becoming an effective leader for change.
Finally, I don't believe Levy can easily let go of the defeat. I would expect a possible re-examination of county resources earmarked for the communities of the 6th District. I also wouldn't be surprised if Levy weighs a challenge to Governor Patterson. Might we see Patterson vs Levy, Round 2?