State Senator Daniel Squadron, the Democrat representing Brooklyn waterfront neighborhoods and lower Manhattan, suddenly announced that he is leaving the State Senate this week to work on promoting Democratic issues and candidates for the state. In an announcement published in the Daily News, Squadron wrote that one of the main reasons for his departure is the corruption that lies beneath much of the Albany power structure, calling New York a "seedy example" of how corruption has flourished thanks to "political dealmaking, big money and public distraction."
Politico's Azi Paybarah and Jimmy Vielkind note, "It’s a rare Albany departure that does not include an arrest, indictment or accusation of wrongdoing."
In a Daily News op-ed explaining his decision, Squadron wrote about the excitement of his 2008 win:
I had defeated a 30-year incumbent to become the youngest member of the state Senate, part of the first Democratic majority in more than 40 years. I believed in state government’s potential.
I still do. But over the years I have seen it thwarted by a sliver of heavily invested special interests. In the state Senate, for example, Democrats have repeatedly been denied control of the chamber by cynical political deals, despite winning an electoral majority — including in 2016.
And the status quo has proven extraordinarily durable: It barely shuddered when the leaders of both legislative chambers were convicted of corruption.
As for his next steps, Squadron wrote, "There are no easy answers, but I believe stronger candidates, a sharpened approach and better policies at the state level can help turn the tide nationally. In the coming months, along with entrepreneur Adam Pritzker and Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, I will launch a national effort focused on addressing this crisis — joining others already doing important work toward 2018 and beyond."
In a letter to constituents (full text below), he framed it as, "After much reflection, I have decided to lend my hand to make a difference in states across the country, pushing policies and candidates that will create a fairer and more democratic future. It's not possible to take on this challenge and continue to be a full-time legislator, which is what I always promised I would be."
Noted Beastie Boys fan Squadron has been a reliably progressive member of the State Senate, promoting civil rights issues and supporting NYC public schools adding Lunar New Year as a holiday, and rapping to criticize ticket scalping. He ran for Public Advocate in 2013 but lost in the primary run-off against Letitia James. During the 2013 primary race, Squadron admitted that his family lost their money in Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme.
Squadron emphasized in the op-ed, "My decision will not impact the partisan balance of the chamber. The 26th District is safely Democratic, and I am stepping aside with enough time to ensure it will be filled on election day this November. And I will remain committed to doing all I can to support an empowered Democratic majority."
Full text of State Senator Squadron's letter to constituents:
For years, we've fought together for a better Albany and a stronger district. From the beginning, your support, advice, energy -- and, yes, criticism -- have been an enormous inspiration. That's why I wanted to let you know directly why I have decided to resign from the Senate this Friday.
Like many across the country, since November, I’ve thought a lot about how best to change the direction of our country, and stand up for core values that are under threat. After much reflection, I have decided to lend my hand to make a difference in states across the country, pushing policies and candidates that will create a fairer and more democratic future.
It's not possible to take on this challenge and continue to be a full-time legislator, which is what I always promised I would be.
When I was first elected in 2008 in a season of hope and change, I hoped to bring enthusiasm for government to the district, and a government to be more proud of to Albany. Though progress has sometimes been slow -- and there is much more to do in this much less hopeful time -- the many constituents, colleagues, and staff with whom I've partnered have kept that enthusiasm, and pride in public service, alive.
Together, we’ve secured millions for public housing, storm resiliency, and waterfront parks. We’ve won a Lunar New Year school holiday, and a more equitable parks system. We've fought to hold Albany accountable, cut through red tape, advocated for subways, and tried (and tried, and tried) to fix a corrupt campaign finance system. I've been grateful for every chance to support a local school, make an intersection safer, or stand up to a bad landlord.
It has truly been an honor to serve the people of the 26th District.
The timing of my decision means the 26th District Senate seat will be filled in this November's election -- and I remain committed to continuing to fight for an empowered Democratic majority.
Thank you again to the many people with whom I've worked. Your faith in a better Albany and a stronger district continues to inspire me. And thank you especially to the constituents who hired me over these last nine years. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to serve.
If you have a constituent need, you can and should continue to contact the district office number at 212-298-5565.
See you in the neighborhood,