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EXCLUSIVE: Former councilman gets early endorsement in challenge to state Sen. Marisol Alcantara

Former City Councilman Robert Jackson is already getting support from an old foe for his planned 2018 primary challenge against freshman breakaway Democratic state Sen. Marisol Alcantara.

ALBANY — The race may be more than a year away, but former City Councilman Robert Jackson is already getting support from an old foe for his planned 2018 primary challenge against freshman breakaway Democratic state Sen. Marisol Alcantara.

Micah Lasher, the former chief of staff to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and a one-time aide to then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said he will forego a second shot at the Upper Manhattan Senate seat and instead back Jackson’s bid to oust Alcantara in 2018.

Lasher, who finished second to Alcantara in a tight four-way 2016 primary, said he will campaign and raise money for Jackson, who finished third, just 533 ballots behind the winner.

Alcantara was backed by the Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference, or IDC, which now has eight members and is aligned in a leadership coalition with the GOP.

"It’s incredibly important that we have Democrats in the Senate that we can count on to stand up for progressive values," Lasher said. "Robert Jackson exemplifies that and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he wins the primary next September."

Micah Lasher said he will forego a second shot at the Upper Manhattan Senate seat and instead back Jackson’s bid to oust Alcantara in 2018.

It’s highly unusual for someone to declare a primary challenge, let alone start rolling out endorsements, 16 months in advance of a state race, but Lasher said, "these are unusual circumstances; we’re in an unusual moment."

"Everything Democrats stand for is under threat and the single biggest obstacle to making progressive policy in New York is the Republican-IDC coalition that controls the New York State Senate."

Those close to Jackson say they hope the former city councilman’s early entry into the primary will help encourage others to announce their own challenges against IDC members.

They say they are also confident Jackson can pick up most of the votes Lasher received in areas where Lasher performed best in 2016, like the upper West Side and parts of Washington Heights. Sen. Diane Savino, an IDC member from Staten Island, said primarying the breakaway members will do nothing to unseat Republicans and help the Democrats capture the majority.

State Sen. Marisol Alcantara.

(Jefferson Siegel/New York Daily News)

Savino argued the Republicans hold the majority not because of the IDC but because Brooklyn Democrat Simcha Felder actually caucuses with the GOP. She says it’s thanks to the IDC’s relationship with the Republicans that policy like a $15 minimum wage, creation of a statewide paid family leave program and a free public college tuition program for some students were able to pass. "They’re not going to win the majority by running lefty primaries," Savino said of the mainstream Dems. "The future of the Senate Democratic conference lies in the suburbs and the rural parts of the state. The Democratic party needs to understand that Democrats are not the same everywhere. That’s part of the national discussion.

"If we’re going to go down the road in deciding who is a Democrat and who isn’t, we’re going to be wandering in the wilderness for a long time."

She added that if Lasher truly wanted to be helpful, he’d get his old boss, Bloomberg, to help raise money for Democrats for "very expensive battles in the suburbs — as soon as they develop a rationale for winning in those races."