By Nicole Disser. Originally published by Bedford and Bowery. Primary day is September 13, 2016.
To meet with Debbie Medina, New York’s first Democratic Socialist candidate for State Senate, I was invited not to a campaign office, nor a public appearance, not even to join her on a campaigning stroll through the 18th district, but to Medina’s Williamsburg apartment– specifically, her dining room table. Here, she advised me not to take off my shoes. “You’ll ruin your socks if you do that,” she laughed.
It became clear to me immediately that Debbie Medina, who’s running her second grassroots campaign to snatch the 18th-district seat in the fall, isn’t at all like other politicians. For one, hers isn’t the sort of practiced, regal charisma that most politicos have– a perfect grin and an unerring face, both provided with extra protection from the elements by a layer of effervescent self-assurance so infectious that if you’re not careful it can briefly paralyze your capacity for doubt, and turn you into a nodding, agreeable dimwit.
Medina is not only an unusual candidate because she’s a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (an organization that recently endorsed her campaign), but because she doesn’t really look like most other politicians (white, old, male) or carry herself like them either– in fact, at a recent public meeting filled with City and State leaders (in such high concentration that the place felt like a police academy graduation ceremony), Medina tiptoed into a seat amidst all the bigwigs and began talking in a low voice, which drew the apparent ire of a woman seated in front of her. True, Medina didn’t really fit in with all the suited-up men around her, but something about the way she didn’t seem to notice or care, and the way her unwitting audience seated ahead might as well have been clutching actual pearls, that made it seem like Medina’s just keeping it real. Continue reading