Zellnor Myrie ’16 overwhelmingly won election to the New York State Senate on Tuesday in a victory that helped Democrats take control of Albany’s upper house.
After defeating the incumbent in a tough primary battle, Myrie captured 88 percent of the vote in the Senate’s 20th District, centered around the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights.
His opponent, Jesse Hamilton, ran on the Independence and Women’s Equality lines.
Elected to the seat in 2014, Hamilton was one of eight Democratic senators who had pledged their support to the Republican leadership in the chamber as part of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) in exchange for committee assignments and other perks. Seven of those eight breakaway Democrats were ousted in Tuesday’s election.
In a statement on his website, Myrie said the district “deserves real Democratic representation.” A Brooklyn native, Myrie was an associate at Davis Polk & Associates in Manhattan and previously worked as a legislative director in the New York City Council.
“This community made it possible for me to go from Crown Heights to Cornell Law, help write the New York City Tenants Bill of Rights and lead my neighborhood advisory board,” Myrie said during his primary campaign. “But we have a State Senator who turned his back on us at a time when our families are under attack from his Republican allies and real estate donors, and we’re saying, ‘enough is enough.’”
During his primary race, Myrie had received several high-profile endorsements, including nods from New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio and The New York Times. “This is a time for bold progressive change. With Zellnor Myrie in the State Senate, what you see is what you will get—a committed progressive who will fight for working people from his first day in office,” de Blasio said.’
In its endorsement, The New York Times noted that while working at one of the country’s top law firms, Myrie “clocked 600 pro bono hours in a year.” While the paper had supported Hamilton in the past, it called Myrie “the far more dynamic and passionate Democrat and the one this district needs.”
Myrie is one of forty Democrats who won seats in the sixty-three-member State Senate on Tuesday, which allowed the party to take complete control of New York State government. Although Democrats hold a two-to-one enrollment advantage statewide, this is the first time the party has controlled the Senate in a decade.