You are reading

Progressive Candidates Engage in War of Words as Campaign for Senate Seat Gets Ugly

Kristen Gonzalez (left) and Nomiki Konst (Facebook)

July 14, 2022 By Christian Murray

Tensions are running high between the campaigns of two progressive candidates who are both running to represent the District 59 seat in the state senate.

Nomiki Konst and Kristen Gonzalez—both left leaning candidates in the race to represent western Queens, north Brooklyn and parts of Manhattan—have been waging a war of words on social media.

Gonzalez has leveled claims that Konst is racist, while Konst has accused Gonzalez’s campaign of harassment, intimidation and inciting violence.

The animus between the two campaigns began the moment that Konst announced on June 1 that she was running.

Konst, a well-known progressive who ran for NYC public advocate in 2019, was criticized from the get-go since Gonzalez had announced months prior that she was running for state senate. Gonzalez had already received the backing of scores of high-profile progressives—including the NYC-DSA, the Working Families Party, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—and that there were fears that Konst would jeopardize her campaign.

Konst faced an avalanche of criticism on Twitter when she announced.

“This is so selfish and wasteful. We have a Latina socialist running in the district who has a track record in this particular community & has a winning coalition of endorsements & she’s up against a machine hack. Don’t split the vote! And for what?!” posted Elana Levin, whose tweet got 320 likes and reflected the sentiments of DSA supporters.

Many of Gonzalez’s followers—as well as DSA members–believe that Konst’s campaign will help candidates such as Elizabeth Crowley, who is also vying for the seat, win the Aug 23 primary. Other candidates in the primary include Mike Corbett and Francoise Olivas. All five candidates have a following.

The tension heated up online on July 10, when Gonzalez took to Twitter and accused Konst of racism for “twice sarcastically saying to my face Welcome to Astoria.”

Gonzalez, who was raised in Elmhurst and is the child of Puerto Rican and Colombian parents, viewed this as a “dog whistle,” implying that she was an outsider and was without community support.

Konst, who says she has lived in Astoria since 2015 but hails from Arizona, said that she was baffled by Gonzalez’ tweets saying that she welcomed Gonzalez to Astoria on two occasions–once at a candidate forum held in the Astoria and another time at a polling site in Astoria on election day.

She said that on both occasions she didn’t speak with any ill-will and noted that she has welcomed other candidates to the neighborhood without incident.

Konst, of Greek heritage, said that when candidate forums have been held in other parts of the district candidates welcomed her there.

“This was her literally just creating controversy right before the filing so she could raise money,” Konst said. “It was personally offensive, and it was also grotesque.”

Olivas, who lives in Greenpoint and whose father is Mexican, said she was disappointed to hear these allegations of racism and questioned whether they were true.

Olivas said that she has welcomed candidates to Greenpoint and offered to show them the neighborhood, noting that the senate district is so big. “There’s an etiquette to that.”

But Gonzalez’ account is somewhat different– although she did agree that Konst said “Welcome to Astoria” on the two occasions she mentioned.

But it was the incident at the polling site where the controversy began, which came after the candidate forum.

Gonzalez said that when she walked past Konst near the polling site, Konst said ‘Welcome to Astoria’ in a snarky manner as she passed her.

“It was definitely sarcastic and not said in a welcoming tone,” Gonzalez said, adding that it was a clear “dog whistle.” It was also the second time she received that greeting.

“I’m someone who– as a person of color–has operated in predominately white spaces. I’ve experienced microaggressions my entire life. I know what they are. I know what they look like. I know what they feel like. And so do a lot of people in this district. This is a microaggression and it needs to be talked about, not invalidated.”

Konst argues she was not being sarcastic, and it is a political smear.

But Konst says that the tweets alleging racism have led to her being the target of attacks from the Gonzalez campaign and DSA members. She said she is worried about her safety and that the level of hostility directed toward her—both online and in person– have reached new heights after the tweets alleging racism were posted.

On Monday, Konst said, she held a campaign event at Katch Astoria, a restaurant located on Newtown Avenue, and was the subject of fierce abuse. She attributes the abuse to Gonzalez’ tweets.

“This guy stormed the restaurant after physically getting in my face and protesting outside,” Konst said, noting that he was making similar allegations made by Gonzalez.

Footage of the man was released by Konst’s campaign. While the man can be seen protesting Konst’s campaign, it was unclear what exactly he was saying.

.

.

On Wednesday, Konst said she was at the 30th Avenue subway station in Astoria with her organizers and they were harassed by a man who gave them the finger and said: “‘I’m DSA, f*ck you! I’m DSA, f*ck you!’ as he walked up the stairs.”

Konst, 38, said she has been working in politics and organizing for years and she has never seen a campaign get this heated before. “I’ve never ever in my life ever seen anything like this or experienced anything like this.”

But Gonzalez said that she has no association with these people and was disappointed to hear of the attacks. She said she has never met the man who protested outside Katch, nor knows who he is.

“No one from our campaign has been involved in what’s been alleged. Nonetheless, I’m very sorry to hear that Nomiki experienced this. We’ve experienced false accusations and targeted harassment during this campaign, which no young woman should have to experience. Our volunteers and core members of our team have been focused on knocking on doors and raising money through small donations from friends and family.”

Many people also took to twitter to question Konst’s account, saying the video footage was inconclusive. Some said that it was just a campaign smear tactic against Gonzalez as well as the DSA.

The battle between the progressives led to two other candidates weighing in on the discussion.

Crowley, seen by some pundits as Gonzalez’s main rival, took to twitter and said that she stands with Konst and that “no campaign or candidate should encourage this behavior.”

Meanwhile, Olivas took to twitter and criticized the DSA and Gonzalez’ campaign.

“On Saturday, a @Gonzalez4NY supporter and DSA member told me I can’t be a WOC and Jewish. Gonzalez supporters have gone after my daughter, saying she is adopted and calling her a prop.”

Olivas told the Queens Post that the DSA and the Gonzalez campaign are extremely aggressive when it comes to their campaign tactics.

The whole back and forth saga between Gonzalez and Konst led to dozens of twitter users—most with anonymous handles—firing toxic comments at one another. However, the underlying theme remains that Konst’s candidacy could hurt progressives in their bid to take a vacant seat.

Konst said that she was entitled to run and that she announced shortly after the district maps were drawn that included Senate District 59—a brand-new district that included Astoria.

The district had been configured by a special master in May after the maps drafted by state Democrats were deemed unconstitutional.

Gonzalez announced she was running when most thought Long Island City, where she lives, was going to be part of Senate District 17, a district originally drafted by state Democrats that did not include Astoria.

The special master eliminated District 17, and Long Island City was included as part of District 59, which also incorporates most of Astoria.

Konst said that District 59 is entirely different than the proposed District 17, noting that District 17 didn’t include Manhattan and Astoria as well as several parts of Brooklyn.

“This is called a democracy and I have every right to run, and I should not be afraid to walk out of my house and say anything. I should not be afraid to run for office.”

email the author: [email protected]

32 Comments

Click for Comments 
Nari

If your idea of racism is someone saying “welcome to Astoria”, then you my friend have never experienced racism.

13
2
Reply
Branduhhhn Magoo

nobody should be voting for garbage, let alone yesterday’s trash. these do nothings only objective is to destroy communities.

11
1
Reply
Athena

if you are a minority calling a white person a racist will still get you some points from your base and may persuade others not to vote for them. Whether its true or not its a good way of “canceling” them out. Gonzales just won. There is no coming back for Konst and others like her in the race. It leaves an impression that if you vote for Konst you are supporting racism.

11
5
Reply
Diversity...the horror!

If you’re afraid of non-white people, why are you living in Queens? A huge mix of cultures is what I enjoy about it.

Have you considered Alabama instead?

1
9
Reply
Trish

Stop projecting your feelings and emotions onto someone else, rather than admitting to or dealing with your feelings. Its very obvious that you need help.

2
1
Reply
White people are the majority...

The largest majority by race in NYC is white, by a long shot.

Imagine being this gullible 😂

Reply
Jessica

You go girl!! Gonzales for the win. We need to elect more people of color to public office. WQs is becoming the epicenter of latino political power just like the Bronx. So proud of my people.

5
31
Reply
Bill

Jessica: you are a racist. I won’t vote for Black and Hispanic candidates just because they are Black and Hispanic. Same thing that you are doing.

Reply
Jessica

Too bad. Dont care. Its a new day. And more people of color will be voted into public office who look like my strong and proud people. Just like me!!

3
5
Reply
You Ranidiot

yeah, lets elect more people of color based on their skin color. thats how you fix all problems.

10
1
Reply
Haley

Juan was endorsed by the progressive party despite his overt racist and homophobic posts online. Now a latina progressive candidate is calling an ethnic white progressive candidate a racist for welcoming her to Astoria twice. So laughable. Gonzales will win and some will feel like white supremacy was defeated. People need to understand that for many progressives your a racist if you are white.

25
3
Reply
Gardens Watcher

Richards’ tweet was nasty and not what we deserve from an elected official, but his written statement was more civil:
“I am honored that the voters have placed their faith in me to continue our Queens comeback…” Richards said. “We’re ready to get back to work and build a Queens that works for everyone.”

Enough of this racist-slinging, garbage talk during election season. Queens deserves better!

8
3
Reply
Reggie

Any person running for public office who uses the term “microagressions” gets an automatic NO in my book. Elizabeth Crowley seems like the least dangerous candidate in my book. And believe me, I’m no fan of the Crowleys. But these “progressives” are living on a different planet. They do not speak the language of working-class folks. The “re-alignment” is real. The Democrats are losing support from the working class because of stupid **** like this.

24
4
Reply
Gardens Watcher

This is a State Senate race, and Crowley is the adult in the race. These other two are squabbling like children.

11
2
Reply
Brandon Magoo

considering that many latinos that now no longer support Biden and the democrats in a huge shift, this should be quite funny.

4
1
Reply
Marcy

When it comes to free healthcare cheaper rent and more immigrant rights everything else goes out the window. People tend to vote for people who are similar to them. Also its the whites that vote for progressives. Bernie won in majority white states.

2
2
Reply
Nothing says working class than American Express

How did Kristen Gonzalez get the DSA endorsement when she used to work for a Fortune 500 company like American Express? It’s hard to believe you probably live in a tower in LIC, pay a ton in rent, used to work for American Express and somewhere we all have to believe your a socialist?

26
3
Reply
Anonymous

She’s a “latina” communist and therefore entitled to the seat. Don’t you know the rules? What kind of communist, sorry progressive are you?

21
3
Reply
yancee

Probably because of her record of standing up for poor people and workers and not taking dirty money. It’s all about where politicians get their money – small donors or big donors.

1
1
Reply
moderate democrat

yes! several, including 1199 SEIU, the largest healthcare workers union in the country. the others unions are afraid of crowley, she has too many powerful connections and is close with powerful people, and they don’t want to anger them. it’s good that a few people are standing up for justice!

Reply
Nothing says working class better than American Express

Yea ok – She was standing up for the working class as her former employer was charging them 18%-25% interest. Very consistent. Does she live in an LIC tower? And how much rent does she pay? If it’s over $3000, is she still a socialist?

Reply
Ed

Sorry, this was one of my peeps from Professional Protesters. He just got out of jail.

7
2
Reply
When "Progressives" Go Wild!

Cat fight! Woo hoo!

Life imitates the Jerry Springer show.

23
2
Reply
Branduhhhn Magoo

except these progressive monsters are destroying our society and nation.

Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

LaGuardia Community College receives federal funding to expand vocational training for the unemployed

LaGuardia Community College recently received more than $400,000 in federal funding to enhance and expand vocational training for underemployed New Yorkers in a city that is still working to recover from COVID-19 pandemic-induced job loss. The support was secured by U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and former Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney.

LaGuardia Community College President Kenneth Adams explained that the school lost nearly a quarter of its students at the height of the pandemic due to the economic effects of the lockdown on low-income Queens households.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

Raga sworn in as first-ever Filipino American elected to the state Legislature

More than 300 community members attended the historic inauguration of Assemblyman Steven Raga as the first Filipino American elected to office in New York state.

Many who attended the swearing-in event at the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park wore traditional and cultural attire to the event at the building that once housed the General Assembly of the newly formed United Nations from 1946-50 until its current home in Manhattan became available for the world body.