At a large rally for Bernie Sanders in Long lsland City Saturday, Sanders drew local endorsements from State Senators Julia Salazar, Jessica Ramos, Luis Sepulveda and Deputy Senate Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, who represents the area where the rally was held.
Michael Gianaris: Bernie Sanders did very well here in the 2016 primaries, so there has always been this progressive energy here.
Zack Fink: You didn't support Bernie in 2016.
Michael Gianaris: No. Look, when people get very into the parlor discussion, of the politics of it, my stance on issues has always been incredibly progressive.
But while Sanders has drawn support from the Democratic Socialists of America, the national Working Families Party endorsed Elizabeth Warren. And while it may be unusual to see those two groups divided, local leaders have also been split on their choices for president.
Last month, several state lawmakers endorsed Warren at a rally in Washington Square Park.
"She's building,” said State Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, one of the New York City Democrats who supports Warren. “That was something that was key to my deciding to endorse Elizabeth Warren. I like her very much. There are other candidates I like as well. But Elizabeth Warren has the campaign that is building."
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a prominent Sanders supporter, changed Queens politics when she defeated Joe Crowley last year, the borough’s Democratic party leader who was once a close ally to Gianaris. Some insiders say Gianaris had to endorse Sanders to stay in line with Ocasio-Cortez.
"No, I happen to agree with so many of the issues that Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez is advancing,” said Gianaris when asked about his support of Sanders. “Whether it's addressing the environment with the Green New Deal, or making sure people have adequate health care coverage in this country."
Gianaris is facing his own primary in the district next year, but it's not from the left. It's from someone who's unhappy Gianaris helped scuttle a deal to bring retail giant Amazon to Queens.
"Not many people are tuned into local politics, but everyone knows about the Amazon deal blowing up, and most people are quite excited to hear that someone is running against the guy who blew it up," said Justin Potter, a candidate running for State Senate.
Asked over the weekend what he thought of Gianaris endorsing Sanders, Governor Cuomo declined to offer an opinion. Cuomo has been supportive of Joe Biden. Senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has not endorsed any candidate yet.