Julia Salazar Wins N.Y. State Senate Primary After Contentious Campaign

Despite her campaign being mired in controversy over her Jewish roots, the Democratic socialist went on to defeat 16-year incumbent Sen. Martin Dilan

Democratic New York State Senate candidate Julia Salazar smiles as she speaks to a supporter before a rally in McCarren Park in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Julia Salazar, a Democratic socialist candidate in New York’s 18th State Senate District, won the primary on Thursday, defeating a 16-year incumbent in the Democratic primary. 

Recently, Salazar was one of the first women who came forward to publicly accuse Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s foreign media spokesman, David Keyes, of sexually assaulting her. Keyes denied the claims to Haaretz. Several more women have since made similar allegations.

Keyes denies any wrongdoing and has called the accusations false. He announced on Thursday that he was taking time off from his job at the Prime Minister’s Office in order to fight to clear his name from the allegations. 

Salazar came into prominence following the rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old Democratic socialist who toppled party heavyweight Rep. Joe Crowley in June’s primary for the 14th Congressional District.

Ocasio-Cortez’s victory inspired journalists to seek out other young female powerhouses of the progressive left affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America.

Billing herself as a Jewish Latin immigrant, Salazar's campaign became mired in criticism when both her Jewish and immmigrant roots were called into question.

In August, an article published in Tablet, an online Jewish magazine, said Salazar has been inconsistent in describing her place of birth and Jewish background, and that her Jewish and “immigrant” identity is “largely self-created.”

Salazar dismissed the article, saying she was Jewish, "Even if the gatekeepers of Jewishness want to deny my Jewishness, that doesn’t really upset me.”

Claims of being a Colombian immigrant were edited out of background. Salazar herself said she never claimed to be an immigrant herself, but the daughter of one.