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Astoria Progressive Launches Campaign for State Senate Seat, Angers Many Left-Leaning Democrats

Kristen Gonzalez (left) and Nomiki Konst (Facebook)

June 2, 2022 By Christian Murray

A podcaster and well-known Democratic Socialist from Astoria has thrown the progressive wing of the Democratic party into disarray by announcing she plans to run for the District 59 seat in the state Senate.

Nomiki Konst announced Tuesday on “The Majority Report” talk show—a daily political podcast–that she plans to run for the newly formed District 59 seat that covers Astoria, Long Island City, Williamsburg, Greenpoint and parts of Manhattan—such as Stuytown, Gramercy, Midtown and Tudor City.

“I want to announce that I’m running for state senate in District 59—a brand new district that encompasses the community I live in.”

The new district was created mid-May, when a special master drew up the electoral maps for the state senate, after a supreme court judge tossed out the maps drafted by state Democrats on the basis that they were unconstitutional.

Konst joins other candidates such as Elizabeth Crowley and Kristen Gonzalez in the race. However, her announcement has upset many progressives who believe she will cut into the vote for Gonzelez.

Gonzalez, a progressive who lives in Long Island City, has already garnered the support of Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, the NYC-DSA, the Working Families Party, Make the Road, New York Communities for Change, Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani, Councilmember Tiffany Cabán and many other left leaning officials and organizations.

Gonzalez announced she was running months ago, when most thought Long Island City was going to be part of Senate District 17—a district that was eliminated by the special master last month. That district would have included Long Island City, Woodside, Ridgewood, Maspeth, Glendale and Greenpoint—although not Astoria.

The race, pundits believe, is between Gonzalez and Crowley, a moderate Democrat who believes now is the time for common sense, experienced leadership.

Crowley, a former councilmember, has a great deal of support from unions as well as elected officials across Queens—including State Sen. Joe Addabbo and Assembly Members Jenifer Rajkumar, David Weprin, Andrew Hevesi as well as Councilmember Lynn Schulman and former councilmember Danny Dromm.

“We are facing incredibly difficult and challenging times now,” she said. “Leadership and experience matter more and more, and are more important than ever in our State Legislature.”

The revised district is less advantageous for Crowley, who was the council member for District 30 from 2009 to 2017, which covered Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village and Ridgewood.
However, Queens still represents the plurality of the votes—and Crowley has strong name recognition throughout the borough. She won the Hunters Point section of Long Island City when she ran for borough president and fared well in northern Astoria.

Konst said she decided to run after the boundaries of District 59 were drawn– which include Astoria.

“I found out about this [new] district a little over a week ago, and I was approached by many people in the community who I have organized with … against like big real estate, the MTA and Amazon,” Konst said on The Majority Report podcast. “And I am announcing today that I am running for your state senate so that we can keep the New York State Senate–that we fought so hard to make progressive–progressive.”

Senate District 59, created by a court appointed special master, is on the left. The proposed Senate District 17, on the right, was drafted by state Democrats and ruled unconstitutional (RedistrictingandYou)

Konst believes that housing, healthcare and a living wage is a human right and that it is the role of government to guarantee them.

Konst, a former surrogate for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and a left-wing contributor– on CNN, CBS, MSNBC, NPR, the Hill, the Majority Report and The Young Turks–has run for office before.

She unsuccessfully ran for public advocate in 2019 and at the time was backed by fellow Greek American and former Councilmember Costa Constantinides, who praised her as an “ally in the fight against climate change.”

On Twitter, shortly after her announcement Wednesday, she was cheered on by former Assemblymember Aravella Simotas.

But many progressives took to twitter to express their anger that Konst has decided to run, arguing that she will split the progressive vote and hurt Gonzalez.
This became evident after California congressman Ro Khanna backed Konst’s campaign on Twitter.

“I am backing @NomikiKonst in her race for New York State Senate. Nomiki is a proven fighter and a powerful voice for progressive causes,” Khanna tweeted.

Khanna came under harsh criticism for the endorsement from many of his followers.

“Before you endorsed you probably should have talked to your colleague who lives in the district instead of the ten most annoying podcasters,” tweeted one follower.
Another tweeted: “What the f..k? You are reaching across the country to make an endorsement in a state senate race… in support of the spoiler candidate who’s jumping in against an already strong consensus progressive candidate?”

Another chided him, arguing that he hadn’t done his research. “This is a spoiler campaign that is a high risk of throwing the seat to a corporate democrat. Do your homework.

This afternoon Ocasio-Cortez jumped in on twitter and doubled-down on her support for Gonzalez.

“If you’re in NYC and live in Astoria, LIC, Greenpoint, Murray Hill, Kips Bay, Stuy Town, or Gramercy – Gonzalez4NY is an incredible candidate for State Senate on housing, climate, healthcare, and more. Proud to support her.”

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