Biaggi challenges State Senator Klein in Democratic primary, criticizes incumbent’s support of GOP

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Alessandra Biaggi, who is seeking to run in the Democratic primary against incumbent State Senator Jeff Klein, said her campaign is fueled by Klein’s betrayal of the Democratic Party.

“The fact that someone who was elected as a Democrat was empowering Republicans even after the 2016 election is outrageous,” Biaggi said. “My only way to take action against that was to run for office. I voted for (Klein) thinking he was a Democrat…and I feel so betrayed.”

Klein, who has represented the 34th district for nearly two decades, was the leader of the Independent Democratic Conference in the State Senate, a group of eight Democrats that voted with the Republicans from 2011 until it disbanded in April. Petitions to put Biaggi on the Sept. 13 ballot began circulating in early June. Candidates require 1,000 signatures from residents of the district in order to run in the primary.

Biaggi, a Pelham native, has been endorsed by more than 60 progressive organizations, including the Progressive Women of Pelham, as well as the Pelham Democratic Committee.

Biaggi’s insurgent campaign received attention from the New York Times after Democratic Congressman Joseph Crowley was upset in a primary by activist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The Times wrote, “As emboldened progressive activists dream of their next targets, Mr. Klein and the band of renegade Democrats he led in Albany, who for years broke with the Democratic Party to help keep Republicans in power in the State Senate, are at the top of the list.”

Biaggi, who is 32, served as deputy national operations director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Prior to that, she worked in the Counsel’s Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Biaggi’s advocacy for women’s rights has been prominent throughout her career. “With more women in state legislature, we would be able to push affordable child care (and) stronger sexual harassment and abuse protection,” Biaggi said. “The more women you have, the more policies that you have that will help women.”

“Where we can make the most tangible impact is at the state and local level,” she said. “If we don’t pay attention, it can be very harmful. As someone who is young, has been working in politics and government over a decade, what I am most afraid of is having people not brought into this process.” She added that people cannot ignore national issues solely because they live in a Democratic state.

As senator, Biaggi said she hopes to lift social issues such as equal educational opportunity, healthcare as a basic human right and moral integrity into politics.

Biaggi was born in Mt. Vernon, raised in Pelham and attended Pelham Memorial High School. Her campaign has enlisted a number of student volunteers in Pelham, and she said they inspire her deeply.