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Is This Latina Jew The Next Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

“Is Julia Salazar, a state Senate candidate in Brooklyn, the next Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?” That’s what the New York Daily News tweeted on Monday — and the paper may be onto something.

Since Ocasio-Cortez’s remarkable upset victory over 10-term Rep. Joe Crowley, pundits have been comparing the two young, progressive women running for office.

While they share similar democratic socialist platforms and Latino backgrounds, Salazar, 27, the Jewish Colombian feminist running for state senate in North Brooklyn, has her own story to tell.

And Ocasio-Cortez recognized that, tweeting, “.@SalazarSenate18 isn’t the next me, she’s the first HER.”

Here’s what you need to know about the candidate, who’s running for New York’s heavily Democratic 18th state Senate district, which includes parts of Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, Williamsburg and Brownsville.

Salazar is running against eight-term incumbent Democratic state Sen. Martin Dilan.

Jews for Julia, run by activists such as Sophie Ellman-Golan, stands behind Salazar’s desire for a purely grassroots race, hosting events to raise funds rather than collecting donations from corporations, landlords and developers. The week following Ocasio-Cortez’s victory, Salazar’s campaign raised more than $20,000 from hundreds of contributors, the Intercept reported. Jews for Julia also confirmed that she works as an organizer for Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, an organization that calls on Jewish communities to play an impactful role in the movement for justice. She’s currently on leave to devote more time to campaigning.

Salazar has been working since she was 14 years old.

Salazar’s family emigrated from Colombia to South Florida when she was a baby, according to the Intercept. In a tweet, she wrote that she jumped into the service industry early, first bagging groceries. She was also a line cook, a waitress and cleaned apartments.

She attended Columbia University in 2009, working 30 hours a week as a nanny to pay rent. She lived in Harlem, the Intercept reported, in a building with no heat and a negligent landlord. Salazar and her neighbors organized a rent strike, winning concessions in housing court three months later.

For someone who thrust into the public eye, Salazar is rather shy.

Salazar is soft-spoken and introverted — it took her many years to overcome her shyness, the Intercept wrote. “If community organizing was like learning basic swimming skills,” she said, “then running for office is like being thrown into the middle of the ocean during a storm.”

She swapped endorsements with Cynthia Nixon.

Salazar, who is running a platform for housing justice, police accountability, and universal healthcare, was recently endorsed by Nixon, who is challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary.

Primary day is coming soon.

Salazar and her volunteers have roamed the district, collecting signatures to get her name on the ballot for the September 13 primary. Salazar, her campaign told The Intercept, plans to submit many more than the requisite 1,000 signatures from registered Democrats in the district by the July 9 filing deadline. It’s a tough race. Dilan, who ran unopposed in the 2016 general election, has held the North Brooklyn seat since Salazar was 11 years old.

Alyssa Fisher is a news writer at the Forward. Email her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher


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