Highlighting its commitment to passing bold progressive reforms including Medicare for All, the country's largest Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) chapter voted on Sunday to endorse Cynthia Nixon in New York's gubernatorial race as well as New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams for lieutenant governor.
"Cynthia Nixon and Jumaane Williams are the best chance we have to win universal rent control, Medicare for all, and many other priorities for working people in New York," Abdullah Younus, co-chair of NYC DSA, said in a statement.
Nixon, an actress and longtime LGBTQ rights and education activist, said in recent weeks that she identifies as a democratic socialist. Since beginning her campaign this past spring, she has spoken out in favor of Medicare for All, affordable housing, and transitioning to a 100% renewable energy economy.
On Twitter, the progressive challenger to two-term governor Andrew Cuomo highlighted DSA's commitment to grassroots campaigning, which has been credited with helping Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez win her primary against another centrist Democrat, Rep. Joe Crowley, in New York's 14th congressional district.
I'm proud to receive the @nycDSA's endorsement and look forward to working with members to knock on doors and organize for single payer, rent control, and justice for all.
DSA knows that politics happens at the grassroots level and we are ready to do the work. pic.twitter.com/byzl8jMBhp
— Cynthia Nixon (@CynthiaNixon) July 29, 2018
Williams, an affordable housing advocate who has served on New York's City Council since 2009, has also demonstrated that he will fight for DSA's key objectives, including guaranteeing universal healthcare and defending immigrants' rights. The first-generation New Yorker was arrested in January for protesting the detention of immigrant rights leader Ravi Ragbir.
— Jumaane Williams (@JumaaneWilliams) July 29, 2018
The NYC-DSA's vote for Nixon and Williams was not without disagreement among the chapter's 4,000 members.
Several members from the city's five boroughs signed a letter arguing that Nixon is not qualified to represent the organization because of her late adoption of the democratic socialist label, and called into question some of Williams' campaign contributions. In 2011, Williams accepted $250 from a law firm that has represented landlords in legal disputes.
Members who supported the endorsement argued that the candidates' vocal endorsements of Medicare for All, immigrant rights, and criminal justice reform would bring wider attention to those issues—all of which are part of DSA's agenda.
I think the strongest reason to endorse Nixon is that her policy priorities literally include DSA's policy priorities and they'd make life better for millions of working class people. But also that thing about power.
— Seth Pollack (@sethmpk) July 28, 2018
"We're the third-biggest economy in the United States," Susan Kang, a member of NYC DSA's leadership team, told the Huffington Post. "We can be the policy innovator on something like single payer and really set the momentum for 2020."