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Samuels hails their bucking Albany’s entrenched leadership to reject corrupt incumbent Pedro Espada and endorse Rivera; assails incumbents Hugh Farley and Roy McDonald for voting to elect Espada President of the Senate; cites imperative to increase percentage of women serving in the Senate

Albany, NY – At a press conference on the steps of the Capitol today, New Roosevelt Initiative Founder Bill Samuels and insurgent Democratic Senate Nominee Gustavo Rivera endorsed Senate candidates Susan Savage (D-44) and Joanne Yepsen (D-43) and praised their courage for the highly unusual step of endorsing Rivera in the party primary, against the wishes of Albany’s entrenched political leadership. They also cited each candidate’s continued push for reform and 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, alongside Alaska, Alabama and Mississippi.

Savage and Yepsen, who joined Samuels and Rivera at the press conference, brushed aside the Democratic establishment in August to endorse Rivera in his primary fight against corrupt Senator and Majority Leader Pedro Espada.

Savage is challenging incumbent Senator Hugh Farley and Yepsen is running against incumbent Senator Roy McDonald, who was appointed to the seat long held by Joe Bruno. Both Farley and McDonald voted to make Espada President of the Senate and went along with fellow GOP lawmakers to offer 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.

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.

State Senator candidate Gustavo Rivera thanked Savage and Yepsen for their endorsements and discussed how they will join together to bring reform and change to Albany in November.

“I want to thank Susan and Joanne for having the courage to support my campaign when few in the Democratic establishment were willing to stand up against my former opponent Pedro Espada, despite his clearly corrupt ways,” Rivera said. “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. Susan and Joanne are two such leaders.”

Yepsen thanked Rivera and New Roosevelt for their endorsement and took aim at incumbent State Senator Roy McDonald. “My opponent Roy McDonald voted to make Espada President of the Senate, putting his corrupt practices a heartbeat away from the Governor’s office. That is simply unacceptable and we must hold McDonald responsible for putting partisan interests ahead of the people in our district.”

Savage echoed Yepsen’s sentiments. “I applaud Bill Samuels and Gustavo Rivera for their hard work and ongoing efforts to clean up Albany,” Savage said. “It is important we have people in the Senate who will stand up for what’s right, even when it means standing up to their own party. Hugh Farley voted to put Pedro Espada a heartbeat away from the Governor’s office and in doing so put his own political interests above the taxpayers of the 44th District. He was more concerned about the size of his office than the families struggling to make ends meet in this district. We need to change the way business is done in Albany, and get government working again.”

In his organization’s endorsement, Samuels hailed Savage and Yepsen for standing up to party bosses by endorsing Rivera and said they have the opportunity to lead a group of reform-minded women Senators who can change Albany and its culture for the better.

“With the defeat of Pedro Espada, we have not only ousted the most corrupt member of the State Senate, but demonstrated to voters that Democrats can police their own party,” Samuels said. “New Roosevelt heartily endorses Susan and Joanne. They can help lead a remarkable group of independent, reformist women leaders, who can go to Albany change its culture.”

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.

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. He believes the only way to achieve such reform is to put a diverse group of reform-minded men and women into the Statehouse.

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