Samuels, NRI and upstate State Senate Democratic candidates Mary Wilmot, Kathleen Joy and Robin Wilt endorse Rivera; pledge to oppose Espada for any leadership role in the Senate

Albany, NY – A group of upstate women Democratic candidates for State Senate today endorsed Gustavo Rivera in his primary race against disgraced State Senator Pedro Espada. State Senate candidates Mary Wilmot, Kathleen Joy and Robin Wilt joined Democratic Activist Bill Samuels, who has made Espada’s ouster and Rivera’s election the top priority for his New Roosevelt Initiative.

Wilmot, Joy and Wilt said that they were looking forward to working with Rivera to reform Albany should they all be elected in November, and they pledged to oppose any effort to keep Espada in his current leadership position should he manage to be reelected. The reform-minded candidates are all challenging incumbent Republicans who voted to make Espada the Senate Majority Leader during his attempted coup in 2009. The group urged fellow candidates and lawmakers to join them in endorsing Rivera and rejecting Espada.

“Changing the way business is done in Albany is a top priority of my campaign,” said Mary Wilmot, State Senate candidate in the 55th District. “I’m endorsing Gustavo Rivera because I will not be a part of the corrupt politics which motivated Espada to switch parties and create gridlock in Albany. His brand of self-serving politics has no place in our State Government.”

“Last year’s Senate coup highlighted what’s wrong with Albany– power politics, greed and partisan divide. Who were the players? Pedro Espada and John Defrancisco,” said Kathleen Joy, State Senate candidate in the 50th District. “That is why we need a change in Albany. It’s time for new leadership and a new perspective in both senate races.”

“Like Espada, my opponent sold out his constituents and switched parties to serve his own self-interests, and then last year he voted to make Pedro Espada the Majority Leader,” said Robin Wilt, State Senate candidate for the 56th District. “That’s unacceptable.  I look forward to serving with Gustavo Rivera and I want Mr. Espada to know that no matter what, he will not be coming back as Majority Leader.”

Betsy Gotbaum, former New York City Public Advocate, who has hosted top women reform candidates who will change the State Senate said, “I applaud these women for standing up against corruption and endorsing fellow candidates who will carry the mantle of reform to Albany.”

Samuels praised the willingness of all the candidates to put principles first in endorsing Rivera against Espada. “Across the state, we have five Democratic women state senate candidates who are courageous enough to take a stand, endorse Rivera and put themselves on the record as unwilling to support Espada for any leadership position,” Samuels said. “I am impressed by the breadth and depth of women stepping up to run for office in New York this year. The election of more progressive women to the State Senate can send a powerful message that we can change the culture in the statehouse and finally bring true reform to Albany.”

Samuels, who was an active candidate for Lieutenant Governor until recently, founded the New Roosevelt Initiative to help make New York State’s legislature the best in the country.

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