The IDC Challengers

In 2018, No IDC NY backed these successful challengers who defeated 6 incumbent state Senators from the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), who had caucused with Republicans, giving them control of the Senate and blocking much-needed progress. In the 2020 election cycle, No IDC NY will continue to support progressive challengers in both the Assembly and Senate against incumbent Democrats who represent safe blue seats but who stand in the way of change.

Meet the six newly elected state Senators backed by No IDC NY in 2018:


John LiuJOHN LIU (District 11)



Whitestone, Bayside, College Point, Flushing

John C. Liu is the former Comptroller of the City of New York (2010-2013) and a former member of the New York City Council (2002-2009). In 2013, John was a candidate for Mayor of New York City, in lieu of running for re-election as Comptroller. Currently, John teaches municipal finance and public policy in Masters programs at the City University of New York (CUNY) and Columbia University.

The 43rd Comptroller of New York City, John Liu established an impressive record as the chief financial officer for 8.4 million residents and overseeing municipal government with an annual budget of $70 billion. John saved taxpayers $5 billion through rigorous audits of City agencies, detailed scrutiny of contracts with private companies, and refinancing of $20 billion of outstanding City bond debt. During his four-year term of office, he achieved an enviable total investment return, increasing the City’s pension asset portfolio to $150 billion. John created the nationally acclaimed online application “” providing unprecedented transparency in government spending. He facilitated economic development and new job creation with acceleration of City capital projects, capturing low interest rates in the bond markets.

Always emphasizing that “it’s not just about numbers, it’s about people,” John Liu championed fairness and equality. An early and staunch opponent of stop-and-frisk tactics, John highlighted the risks to communities and taxpayers alike due to damaged police-community relations. John presented daily-updated M/WBE Report Cards for City agencies to monitor and encourage greater government contracting opportunities for minority entrepreneurs. John also proposed sound economic policies to create real economic growth and narrow the ever-widening wealth gap, protected wage standards and recouped back wages and fines on behalf of cheated workers from contractors who just don’t want to play by the rules, and exposed the billions of dollars in publicly-subsidized corporate welfare doled out by the City that failed to deliver on promised new jobs and fair housing. He published numerous reports analyzing and issuing recommendations on a wide range of public priorities, including education and the need to take students beyond high school, affordable housing and family support, retirement security and protection of pension benefits, and the fiscal and social benefits of legalizing marijuana.

As a member of the New York City Council, John Liu represented his hometown of Flushing and northeast Queens. He secured millions of dollars in additional funding for schools, libraries, parks, senior citizen centers, and youth programs. John served as chairperson of the Council’s Transportation Committee overseeing operations of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Department of Transportation, and Taxi and Limousine Commission, and enacted legislation boosting efficiency and efficacy of key City agencies. John also served on the committees on Education, Consumer Affairs, Contracts, Oversight & Investigation, Land Use, Lower Manhattan Redevelopment and Health.


JESSICA RAMOS (District 13)

Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, parts of Woodside and Astoria

Jessica Ramos is a Queens native, grassroots activist, and proud public school parent. A strong labor advocate with deep experience championing union rights, Jessica worked with Build Up NYC to fight for better pay, benefits and working conditions for New York's construction, building, hotel, and maintenance workers. Jessica has also worked with a local chapter of the Social Service Employees Union and a regional branch of the Service Employees International Union, where she served as Communications Specialist. She has served her neighbors in Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst and North Corona as a member of Queens Community Board 3, and also as a Democratic District Leader from 2010 to 2014. Most recently, Jessica worked as Director of Latino Media for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Jessica lives in Jackson Heights with her husband and two young sons. She was born in Queens of Colombian immigrant parents, speaks fluent Spanish, and will fight for immigrants' rights in the face of growing hostility from Washington.  Jessica does not have a driver’s license—she rides the subway every day. 


ZELLNOR MYRIE (District 20)

Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, South Slope, Sunset Park

Zellnor Myrie is a Brooklyn native, lawyer, and longtime affordable housing advocate. Zellnor is a graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School, earned his B.A. in Communications and M.A. in Urban Studies from Fordham University. After Fordham, Zellnor worked as Legislative Director for City Councilman Fernando Cabrera where, among other bills, he helped draft and pass the Tenant Bill of Rights.

After leaving the City Council, Zellnor became chair of his Neighborhood Advisory Board where, through community organizing, he helped secure nearly $400,000 in federal funding for job training, after school programming, and tenant protection. Zellnor then went to Cornell Law School where he served as student body president, an editor on the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, a constitutional law instructor in prison, and as a Pro Bono Scholar — a position that allowed him to take the New York Bar early and spend his last semester working full-time at Justice 360, a criminal justice reform organization.

As an associate at a private Manhattan law firm, Zellnor remained committed to public service. Zellnor provided over 600 hours of pro bono service to immigrants seeking asylum, victims of police brutality and illegal stop-and-frisks, special education students not receiving services from the Department of Education, and victims of domestic violence. Zellnor also remained committed to his community as a member of the Neighborhood Advisory Board, junior board for the Legal Aid Society, and president of his building’s tenant’s association.

Zellnor is committed to giving back to the Brooklyn community that raised him and is passionate about securing affordable housing for families like his own, strengthening our public education system, immigrant rights, and criminal justice reform.


ROBERT JACKSON (District 31)

Chelsea, Clinton, the Garment District, Hamilton Heights, Harlem, Inwood, Midtown Manhattan, Morningside Heights, the Upper West Side, Washington Heights

(currently held by Marisol Alcantara)

Robert Jackson has never stopped fighting for our children. Raised by a single mother in Northern Manhattan with eight brothers and sisters, he didn’t have much, faced many obstacles and times were often tough. Through hard work, perseverance, and the help of public school teachers and good people in the community, he earned a scholarship to SUNY New Paltz and the opportunity to get ahead. That’s why he has fought so hard to knock down barriers and to give every child the same opportunity to succeed that he had.

He worked as a union organizer fighting for good jobs and respect for workers and was elected President of the Community School Board for District 6, covering Washington Heights, Inwood and West Harlem. Faced with a rigged system that underfunded these schools, Robert Jackson filed a landmark lawsuit against the state to fix the inequitable New York State school funding distribution formula that was cheating NYC schools and undermining our children’s future. He walked 150 miles to Albany to highlight the cause and won a court judgment that awarded $16 billion for NYC schools, some of which is still owed to the children of New York today. In 2001, Robert was elected to the City Council – and three times overwhelmingly re-elected by the voters of his upper Manhattan district. He was chosen by his colleagues to Chair the Education Committee and Co-Chair the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus. He sponsored the Small Business Survival Act, fought for increased legal protections and city services for immigrants, and continued his lifetime work to fund our schools, defend our tenants, and promote equality, fairness and justice. 

Now Robert Jackson is running for State Senate to defeat the GOP-aligned IDC incumbent and build a real Democratic State Senate majority that finally fully funds our public schools, reforms our loophole ridden rent laws, passes the Reproductive Health Act, achieves single payer health care, and passes badly needed Albany ethics reforms, election reforms and real criminal justice reforms. Robert Jackson will fight to make New York the progressive beacon it should and must be.

Robert met his wife Faika at SUNY New Paltz and they have been married and living in the same building in Washington Heights for more than 40 years. They raised three daughters, and now have two grandchildren and will continue working to leave the world a better place for all of them.



Bronx, Pelham, and Mount Vernon

(currently held by Jeff Klein)

Alessandra Biaggi lives in Pelham, NY, where she was born and raised. She’s been active in politics for over a decade – serving as Deputy National Operations Director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, as counsel in Governor Cuomo’s Office, working for Congressman Crowley, the Kings County D.A.’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of NY. Her race is important for the entire state of New York because she’s running against a “Trump Democrat” who votes republican, blocking progressive legislation for millions of vulnerable New Yorker’s. Biaggi is committed to fight for progressive values and stand for accountability and ethical politics. 



RACHEL MAY (District 53)

Madison County and parts of Oneida and Onondaga counties, including the majority of the City of Syracuse

(currently held by David Valesky)

Rachel May is many things: a scholar, an educator, an environmentalist, a mother and a True Blue Democrat. She is the Director of Sustainability Education at Syracuse University and runs the school's Campus as a Lab for Sustainability (CALS) program. At CALS, Rachel brings Syracuse professors and students together with the people who run campus operations, working hand in hand to evaluate complex systems, reduce energy use, and create models of sustainable practices. Rachel has long been active in the broader community of the City of Syracuse and of Onondaga County. She serves currently on both the 16th Ward Democratic Committee and the Syracuse Board of Zoning Appeals, and formerly on the Board of the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency. Rachel is also a grassroots progressive leader, active in groups including Uplift Syracuse, the CNY Solidarity Coalition, and the Campaign for New York Health, which advocates for a single-payer healthcare system across New York State. 

Before moving to Syracuse in 2001, Rachel was a professor of Russian at SUNY Stony Brook on Long Island and, prior to that, at Macalester College in Minnesota. She holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University (in Slavic Languages) and Master's degrees from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (in Environmental Science and Communications) and from Oxford University (in Modern Languages). She has received numerous awards for academic excellence, including a Marshall Scholarship as well as fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Rachel's husband is a professor at Le Moyne College; their daughter recently graduated from Nottingham High School in Syracuse and now attends Cornell University.