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Samuels hails her bucking Albany’s entrenched leadership to reject corrupt incumbent Pedro Espada and endorse Rivera; assails her incumbent opponent Jim Alesi for voting to elect Espada President of the Senate

Rochester, N.Y. – At a press conference in Rochester, N.Y. today, New Roosevelt Initiative Founder Bill Samuels and insurgent Democratic Senate Nominee Gustavo Rivera endorsed Senate candidate Mary Wilmot (D-55) and praised her courage for the highly unusual step of endorsing Rivera in the party primary, bucking the advice of Albany’s entrenched political leadership. They also cited her continued push for reform and her ability to help increase the number of women lawmakers in the state Senate, which currently ranks 40th among the country’s statehouses in percentage of women lawmakers.

Wilmot, who joined Samuels and Rivera at the press conference, brushed aside the Democratic establishment and joined four other Democratic women Senate candidates in August to endorse Rivera in his primary fight against corrupt Senator and Majority Leader Pedro Espada.

Wilmot is challenging incumbent Senator Jim Alesi, who voted to make Espada President of the Senate and went along with fellow GOP lawmakers offering Espada more than $2 million in member items to join the GOP caucus. Espada’s party switch brought the Albany legislature to a halt during the summer of 2009.

Wilmot becomes the second Senate candidate endorsed by the New Roosevelt Initiative in the 2010 election. In July, New Roosevelt was the first organization to endorse Rivera in his challenge to Espada, who he handily defeated in the Sept 14th primary.

Rivera thanked Wilmot and discussed how they will team up to bring reform and change to Albany in November.

“I want to thank Mary for having the courage of her convictions and supporting my candidacy when few even within the New York Democratic Party were willing to call out my former opponent Pedro Espada,” Rivera said. “Mary recognized that if we are to change the way Albany does business, we must bring with us like-minded leaders who are independent-minded, believe in reform and want to give New Yorkers the best state legislature in the country.”

In his organization’s endorsement, Samuels hailed Wilmot for standing up to party bosses by endorsing Rivera and said she is leading a group of reform-minded women Senators who can change Albany and its culture for the better.

Samuels also repeated his challenge to Carl Paladino to take on members of his own party to demonstrate that his call to “take a bat to Albany” was more than a slick campaign slogan.

“With the defeat of Pedro Espada, we have ousted probably the most corrupt member of the State Senate,” Samuels said. “With New Roosevelt’s endorsement of Mary, we plan to take down one of Espada’s accomplices, incumbent Jim Alesi, who voted to elect Espada President of the State Senate, putting him second in line to the Governor, in exchange for switching parties. Mary represents a remarkable group of independent, reformist women leaders, who can go to Albany change its culture.”

Wilmot thanked Rivera and New Roosevelt for their endorsement and took aim at incumbent State Senator Jim Alesi. “Changing the way business is done in Albany is a top priority of my campaign,” Wilmot said. “I endorsed Gustavo Rivera because I will not be a part of the corrupt politics that motivated Espada to switch parties and that created gridlock in Albany. Jim Alesi voted to make Pedro Espada President of the Senate. That is unacceptable. We have held Espada accountable and now it is time to hold Jim Alesi accountable. I will continue to do what is right for the constituents of my district and not what is in the interest of the party bosses.”

Currently, New York ranks far behind other statehouses in its percentage of State Senators who are women. New Hampshire leads the way with 54% of its State Senate comprised of women legislators, while New York ranks 40th in the nation with only 16% women legislators.

“Nearly 150 years ago, Susan B. Anthony and her three sisters were arrested for having registered to vote and casting their ballots in Rochester, and in the process helping to shape the road towards securing a women’s right to vote in America.” Samuels said. “Today I urge voters of the district to throw their support behind another independent and reform-minded woman, Mary Wilmot, who bucked the trends and establishment to stand up for her convictions to change Albany.”

Samuels is a native of upstate New York, who grew up near Rochester in Canandaigua. He founded the New Roosevelt Initiative to reform Albany and help make New York’s legislature the best in the country.

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