Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/2472 Wed, 20 Mar 2019 01:21:29 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) Cuomo Begins Push to Flip State Senate and House of Representatives http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7969-cuomo-begins-push-to-flip-state-senate-and-house-of-representatives http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7969-cuomo-begins-push-to-flip-state-senate-and-house-of-representatives cuomo li senate candidates

Cuomo & Long Island candidates (photo: @andrewcuomo)


Having resoundingly won the Democratic Party nomination for a third term last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo is now directing the enormous campaign and party machinery that propelled his victory to focus its efforts on the New York State Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. In a break from past cycles when he has been criticized for doing too little for his party and its candidates, Cuomo has pledged to leverage the significant resources, financial and human, at his fingertips to help Democrats flip control of the two legislative chambers, one each at the state and federal levels, to better counter what he says are harmful policies of the Trump administration and Republican-led Congress.

On Monday, Cuomo stood alongside several state Senate candidates at LIU Post on Long Island, unveiling a nine-point Long Island-focused pledge to regain Democratic control of the legislative chamber -- Democrats need to pick up a net of one seat in the Senate, while in the Assembly they enjoy an overwhelming majority. Alongside a slate of Democratic Senate candidates, Cuomo signed the pledge, which includes measures he’s already put into place and others he has said he supports but hasn’t been able to get through the Republican-led Senate.

Cuomo and the battleground candidates promised to continue the state’s 2 percent property tax cap, which he says will protect Long Island residents from the federal government’s reduction of state and local tax (SALT) deductibility; he called for more funding for the MTA from New York City; he touted his $150 billion infrastructure plan, which includes modernizing the Long Island Rail Road; pledged to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade into state law; backed ethics and voting reforms; promised to continue investing in combating the MS-13 gang; and pushed his proposal for a red flag gun protection bill. He also spoke of providing more funding to public schools and protecting access to clean water.

“We need the New York State Senate, because the only security we’re going to have are the laws of the State of New York as they are tearing down our rights and values in Washington,” Cuomo said.

On Tuesday, the governor made a brief stop at the Stars & Stripes Democratic Club in southern Brooklyn to publicly endorse Andrew Gounardes, the Democrat challenging State Senator Marty Golden in one of the few New York City districts represented by a Republican. Cuomo repeated many of the same talking points from his Monday speech, which he has honed for his own campaign, warning of the ills of Republican control of government at the state and federal level and painting himself and New York State as the bulwark against Trump and the many threats his administration has levelled -- against women, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, Puerto Ricans, for instance.

“Elections matter. This one really, really matters,” Cuomo said, speaking of a broad disaffection among the electorate, on both sides of the aisle. The governor and Gounardes also signed a pledge, mostly similar to the one from Monday but including a focus on New York City issues such as a promise to pass speed camera legislation for school zones and expanding rent stabilization, and not including Long Island-focused planks like the LIRR and demanding more MTA funding from the city.

The September 13 primary saw a massive increase in turnout among Democratic voters, which many have cited as evidence of an ongoing and growing “blue wave” that is similarly boosting Democratic candidates across the country and expected by some to come crashing down upon Republicans on Election Day, November 6. But Cuomo’s own interpretation has differed somewhat, including when he dismissed the notion of a progressive wave the day after he won his primary, despite the fact that his under-funded opponent received more than 500,000 votes (to Cuomo’s nearly 1 million).

“I don’t like the expression the ‘blue wave’, because the ‘blue wave’ suggests its partisan,” Cuomo said at Tuesday’s rally in Bensonhurst, “that it’s Democrats who are offended. It’s not just Democrats who are offended...What this president is doing is not anti-Democratic, it’s anti-American...This is not a blue wave, my friends. This is a red, white, and blue wave.”

Last month, in the immediate aftermath of his primary win, just as he had done a few months after Donald Trump assumed office, Cuomo rallied the troops, but to his tune. “[T]he truth is this president and his extreme conservative colleagues have declared war on the State of New York. They are attacking our rights, our values, and our economy,” Cuomo said at a September 18 Democratic rally billed as an effort to relaunch the general election campaign to swing the state Senate and help flip the U.S. House. For nearly 20 minutes, Cuomo, newly invigorated from his primary win, inveighed against the “extreme conservative freight train” from Washington running roughshod over New Yorkers, and promised “more organizing, more mobilizing” to capture the energy of the Democratic base.

“[W]e’re gonna take this energy that we now have and we’re going to build on this energy,” he said. “It’s not going away...There’s a whole new Democratic movement. They’re responding to what we did and they’re responding to what they want to do by stopping this threat in Washington. And we have to build on that energy.”

A spokesperson for Cuomo’s campaign said he plans to personally raise funds and campaign for ten Democratic candidates running against sitting Republican congressional representatives -- he’s already sent each of them a maximum donation of $2,700 through a federal political action committee, Cuomo NY Take Back the House. The candidates include Perry Gershon, Liuba Grechen Shirley, Max Rose, Antonio Delgado, Tedra Cobb, Anthony Brindisi, Tracy Mitrano, Dana Balter, Joe Morelle and Nate McMurray. Politico New York reported last month that the broader effort Cuomo had promised had yet to materialize as he seemed more preoccupied with his own primary challenger, actor and education activist Cynthia Nixon. He has so far only held a fundraiser for Brindisi.

Among the Democratic state Senate candidates who have Cuomo’s support are some who are challenging incumbents and others running for open seats. He is also bolstering two Democratic Senators facing Republican challengers. They include Monica Martinez who is challenging Dean Murray in District 3; Lou D’Amaro, who is challenging Sen. Phil Boyle in District 4; Jim Gaughran, who is challenging Sen. Carl Marcellino in District 5; Anna Kaplan, who is challenging Sen. Elaine Phillips in District 7; Peter Harkham, who is challenging Sen. Terrence Murphy in District 40; Karyn Smythe who is challenging Sen. Sue Serino in District 41; Gounardes challenging Golden in District 22; and Democratic Senators John Brooks, who is being challenged by Massapequa Park Mayor Jeff Pravato in District 8, and Todd Kaminsky, who is being challenged by former Nassau lawmaker Francis Becker Jr. Cuomo’s campaign has donated the maximum primary limit of $7,000 to all those candidates, save for Gounardes and Kaminsky. If he decides to do so, Cuomo could direct another $11,000 to each candidate’s campaign for the general election.

The campaign is currently in the process of scheduling fundraisers for the congressional candidates and has already set up eight events to support the state Senate contenders, starting on Wednesday, October 3, with a fundraiser for Smythe. Fundraisers are scheduled to support Gounardes and D’Amaro on October 9; for Martinez on October 12; for Brooks and Kaminsky on October 15; for Harckham on October 21; and for Kaplan on October 22.

But it’s not only campaign cash that Cuomo will corral for the candidates. His campaign infrastructure and the State Democratic Party’s assets are being put to use to raise name recognition for the candidates and to get voters to the polls. Some of the congressional seats also overlap with the competitive Senate districts, giving Cuomo the ability to kill three birds with one stone as he also campaigns for his own reelection, perhaps without making it too obvious. The governor is facing a handful of challengers led by Republican nominee Marc Molinaro.

According to the Cuomo campaign spokesperson, there are more than 25 state party staffers in the field, training and engaging Democrats on the ground and leading Get Out The Vote efforts across the state. In congressional districts 1, 11, 19, 22 and 24 -- the five identified by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee under their ‘Red to Blue’ campaign effort -- the state party has sent campus organizers to rally young people, and in major metropolitan regions, organizers are recruiting volunteers to aid in those battleground districts. The party is also using digital and social media and data analytics to bolster outreach.

There’s also the tried-and-tested method of campaign mailers, in which the State Democratic Party has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars, the campaign spokesperson said, urging voters to support candidates including Rose, Brindisi, Gershon, and Delgado. (At this point there have been no other controversies with such mailers beyond the one that has dogged Cuomo and the party that sought to falsely tie Cynthia Nixon to anti-semitism in the final weeks of the primary.)

The party and campaign together spent millions on its statewide primary ticket -- to set up field offices and organizers -- and the campaign spokesperson said they would expand on that infrastructure for the general election.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who prevailed in last month’s primary over challenger Jumaane Williams, a Brooklyn City Council member, is also leading her own parallel effort to support female candidates for Congress and State Senate. “Republican control of Congress and the New York State Senate has been a disastrous disappointment for all New Yorkers, especially women and middle class families,” Hochul said in a September 28 statement, launching the general election effort. She announced her support for four Congressional candidates -- Grechen Shirley, Cobb, Mitrano and Balter -- and five State Senate candidates -- Martinez, Kaplan, Smythe, Jen Metzger and Jen Lunsford.

On Sunday, Hochul was scheduled to meet voters alongside Alessandra Biaggi, who defeated Democratic State Senator Jeff Klein in the September 13 primary, but the event was cancelled because Biaggi was sick, according to Hochul’s campaign. The planned event appeared to be a signal to Senator Jeff Klein, who Biaggi defeated in the primary, to publicly concede and bow out of the race on the other ballot lines he has for the general election. Election Day is November 6.

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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Cuomo Begins Push to Flip State Senate and House of Representatives Tue, 02 Oct 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Democrats Target Previously Ignored Brooklyn Shot at State Senate Majority http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7947-democrats-target-previously-ignored-brooklyn-shot-at-state-senate-majority http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7947-democrats-target-previously-ignored-brooklyn-shot-at-state-senate-majority a gounardes2

(Photo: @agounardes)


As Democrats eye majority control of the New York State Senate that has effectively eluded them for a decade, party leaders and a coalition of progressive activists are descending on Southern Brooklyn’s District 22, where Democrat Andrew Gounardes is challenging Republican Senator Marty Golden and where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans more than two-to-one.

The Senate Democratic conference currently holds 31 seats and needs just one more for a majority in the 63-seat upper chamber of the state Legislature, while their party-mates already overwhelmingly control the Assembly. With surging turnout and a blue wave of progressive energy rousing the party’s base, they see an opportunity to pick up several seats across the state. Senate District 22 -- which covers the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton, Dyker Heights, parts of Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach and Marine Park -- is one of only two in New York City represented by a Republican (the other is District 24 in Staten Island, a solidly Republican seat held by Senator Andrew Lanza). Golden, a former NYPD officer, has held the seat for 16 years, prior to which he served on the New York City Council.

In the September 13 primary, Gounardes, who is counsel to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, beat journalist-turned-politician Ross Barkan to win the Democratic nomination. The race was less bitter than other Democratic primaries across the city, and saw more attention focused on Golden’s eight-term Senate record and history of personal controversy.

“We’ve been running full-speed, nonstop since [primary] night,” Gounardes said in a Wednesday phone interview, 47 days until Election Day, November 6. “I was at the subway at 7:30 on Friday morning and we’ve been campaigning straight through.”

Gounardes has challenged Golden before, in 2012, but Golden outspent him and easily defeated him, getting 38,584 votes, or 52 percent, against Gounardes’ 28,243 votes, 38 percent, out of a total 74,451 votes cast. There were a total of 154,316 registered voters in the district at the time, including 77,594 Democrats, 33,621 Republicans and 36,731 unaffiliated voters. (Gounardes also ran on the Working Families Party Line and Golden ran additionally on the Independence Party and Conservative Party lines).

In 2014, Golden again faced a Democratic challenger, Jamie Kemmerer, who received little support from the Democratic establishment and lost by a wide margin in a low turnout election. Only 36,348 voters cast a ballot in that race, with 23,580 voters, or 65 percent, voting for Golden and 10,633, or 29 percent, for Kemmerer. Voter enrollment was largely unchanged -- there were 154,001 total registered in the district, with 77,328 Democrats, 32,710 Republicans, and 37,250 unaffiliateds.

Two years ago, the Democrats did not put up any opponent even as they were attempting to win back the Senate, allowing Golden to be reelected unopposed with more than 62,000 votes.

This year, however, is nothing like the last two elections. As Golden cruised unopposed in 2016, Donald Trump was surprisingly elected president. Awareness of the New York State Senate -- the fact that it has been controlled by Republicans, with the help of nine rogue Democrats -- grew. Activists organized. Party leaders, while feeling pressure from the base, began to see more seats as in play.

Turnout surged on primary day, September 13, and is expected to carry forward into the general. Voter registration has also climbed. As of April this year, there were 167,219 registered voters in District 22: 83,244 Democrats, 35,786 Republicans and 41,458 unaffiliateds.

“My approach has always been pragmatic progressivism,” Gounardes said, noting the issues that have defined his campaign and that he will be talking about for the next seven weeks: education, pedestrian safety, the city’s subway crisis, the high cost of living in the district, especially housing and health care, and corruption and good government reform.

“I have very progressive values but I’m also a very pragmatic person. Nothing in my platform is anything that I think is out of the mainstream,” he said. “I don’t think it’s out of the mainstream to talk about speed cameras. I don’t think it’s out of the mainstream to talk about fixing the MTA. Frankly I don’t think it’s out of the mainstream to talk about universal health care in the year 2018...I’m really focused on issues that we can have a direct impact on in as pragmatic a way as possible.”

He credited his primary victory to a robust field operation and a strong coalition of activists and labor unions that backed him. “We’re gonna do the same thing we did in the primary, we’re just gonna do more of it,” he said of his strategy to beat Golden. “The last four days of the election, we knocked on, I think, north of 15,000 doors in four days....We identified more than half of the voters in our target universe and we pulled them all out. And we predicted our turnout numbers, we predicted our margin, we hit all our metrics really, really strong. So we’re gonna do all of that but we’re gonna do it ten times more. That’s how we’re gonna win.”

Golden seems unperturbed by the challenge. The senator prides himself on being able to work with lawmakers from across the aisle and has called himself an “economic development nut,” who cares about lowering taxes and creating jobs. “My neighbors know I get good things done,” he said in an emailed statement to Gotham Gazette. “Bringing back billions of dollars to schools, advocating for common sense MTA reforms, standing up for labor, supporting law enforcement, driving economic development and job creation, keeping prescription medicine affordable and Brooklyn health care excellent - these have always been my priorities year in, year out.”

He has a strong fundraising advantage. He has raised more than $782,000 for reelection, spent just about $720,000 and has about $485,000 in cash on hand. Gounardes has only raised about $276,000, spent about $101,000 and has about $153,000 left.

Golden has also been endorsed for reelection by several prominent law enforcement and uniformed workers unions, including the Sergeant’s Benevolent Association and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, and by the Civil Service Employees Association Local 1000, the New York League of Conservation Voters, and DC37, an influential labor group. “My focus - beginning, middle and end - are the Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods I have the honor of representing. The support I get is from them. However others try to frame this this race, it's not about - and has never been about - anything other than our communities,” Golden said.

State Republican Party Chair Ed Cox said in a statement, “Marty Golden is one of the most effective leaders in the state. He delivers for his district and his constituent service is second to none. People trust him and know they can count on him -- it's why Brooklynites from all political persuasions vote for him and it's why he'll be re-elected this November.”

On the other side, Gounardes is being aided in his effort by prominent elected officials and labor unions as well, including 32BJ, the powerful building services workers union that just played a significant role in defeating Senator Jeff Klein, former leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, in the primary. A campaign spokesperson for Governor Andrew Cuomo said they see the seat as in play and will be supporting Gounardes as the governor spearheads the party’s effort to flip the senate.

“We believe in this blue wave year, every seat is in play and the governor is laser focused on doing our part to take back the House and flip control of the State Senate this November to fight back against Donald Trump’s divisive, anti- New York agenda,” the spokesperson, Abbey Collins, said in a statement.

The Working Families Party and the True Blue coalition, made up of 60 activist groups, also intend to flood the district with volunteers and efforts to turn out voters, which they successfully employed in several other contested Democratic primaries. On Saturday, the Gounardes campaign is holding a large general election kickoff rally, and on Sunday, True Blue activists will join with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and others to canvass in the district.

“Now that the primary’s behind us, there’s no other competitive general election to the State Senate in any one of the five boroughs except for our race here,” Gounardes pointed out. “So we feel very, very bullish about that fact and we’re encouraged by it because it means that volunteers, instead of getting on a bus and going to Pennsylvania or New Jersey or wherever else to go help with a congressional race, they now have an opportunity to take the subway down, if it’s running, and come down to Bay Ridge, and help us knock on doors and make phone calls.”

He has also been in touch with Barkan, his primary opponent, inviting him to the Saturday campaign event, and said that Barkan’s campaign volunteers and donors have reached out to offer support. “[H]e really spoke about Marty’s record in a way that I couldn’t have, with a platform that I just didn’t have,” Gounardes acknowledged of Barkan.

Barkan intends to assist the campaign which, he said in phone interview, could lead to a “sea change” in Southern Brooklyn. But he is still figuring out how he will get involved. “To defeat Marty Golden, you have to motivate Democrats, progressives, newer voters, younger voters, and really get them to come out,” he said. “I think this could be the year to do it. I certainly think Marty Golden is vulnerable, I always did. He is a state senator whose views are out of step with much of the district. It’s not an easy fight. I knew that going in, Andrew knows that too. But it’s a winnable fight.”

To Democrats, Golden’s weaknesses are legion. He is an avid supporter of President Donald Trump and has made a variety of bad headlines. In February last year, he falsely claimed that some of the 9/11 hijackers were Bay Ridge residents. In June 2017, he referred to now-Council Member Justin Brannan as “fat boy” at a sit-down with reporters. Then, in December, he apparently impersonated a police officer while his driver tried to force a cyclist out of a bike lane to get through traffic. In 2015, he made, and later deleted, a crass joke on Facebook about same-sex marriage and recreational marijuana being legalized. In 2012, he advertised and then later cancelled a workforce development seminar for women that had sexist overtones. In 2008, he spent more than $200,000 in campaign funds on events at a catering hall that he previously ran. He was investigated in 2014 for alleged campaign finance violations and used campaign funds for his defense, though no charges were filed. In 2005, Golden hit an elderly woman with his car -- she fell into a coma and died six months later -- and paid her family a settlement though he was found not to be at fault. He also believes Palestinian and Arab communities don’t vote because of cultural differences. And, in January, he made remarks about the opioid crisis that invited allegations of racism.

“We’re not talking about a quality candidate here,” said Harris Doran, a steering committee member of No IDC NY and an activist at Rise and Resist, two activist groups under the True Blue coalition. “He’s messed up his own record. No one else needs to do that. This is just a list of facts that are horrible. And he’s also super for Trump.”

[Read: After Primary Wins, Progressive Activists Eye Flipping State Senate Seats, and Wide Majority]

Golden also has a lengthy record of speeding tickets, which many saw as particularly hypocritical because of his shifting positions on the renewal of a law in this year’s state legislative session related to a speed camera program in place around New York City schools. The Democratic Assembly pushed to expand the program and the Republican Senate refused, leading to an expiration of the program that has since been resurrected by City Council legislation and a Cuomo executive order.

“A lot of people frankly are startled or shocked when they hear some of the policy positions or some of the things that Marty Golden stands for and the fact that someone can hold these views in 2018 in the city of New York,” said Brannan, a close Gounardes ally whose City Council district overlaps with Senate District 22. Brannan won his seat by defeating John Quaglione, who is Golden’s deputy chief of staff.

Brannan conceded it will be a tough battle. “We’re gonna have to work very hard because the district is very heavily gerrymandered but I think we’ve got the numbers,” he said.

Golden, however, downplayed the massive uptick in turnout in the district. “Slogans like ‘blue wave’ have a way of glossing over and missing the reality of neighborhoods,” he said. “Every district and community is different. I am proud and grateful to have longstanding support from all parties, all ages, all backgrounds, and from throughout the district.”

Gounardes believes Golden’s base has likely soured on his record. “The message has always been for years that if we run a strong, smart campaign, Golden is vulnerable,” he said. “We know that because his support in the district is a mile wide but an inch deep and his record is really poor on a lot of critical issues.”

He added, “We’re gonna flip the Senate when we win this race and so people wanna be a part of that history-making moment and they can do it without having to leave the city.”

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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Democrats Target Previously Ignored Brooklyn Shot at State Senate Majority Thu, 20 Sep 2018 04:00:00 +0000
In Democratic Senate Primary, Barkan Criticizes Gounardes for Embracing 'Anti-Immigrant' Reform Party Leader http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7821-in-democratic-senate-primary-barkan-criticizes-gounardes-for-embracing-anti-immigrant-reform-party-leader http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7821-in-democratic-senate-primary-barkan-criticizes-gounardes-for-embracing-anti-immigrant-reform-party-leader barkan handshake

Ross Barkan (photo: @RossBarkan)


As the contested Democratic primary for a southern Brooklyn state Senate seat heats up with less than two months to go, reporter-turned-candidate Ross Barkan is calling out his opponent Andrew Gounardes for accepting the endorsement of the Reform Party and its local leader, Bob Capano, who has a history of anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Barkan and Gounardes are competing ahead of the September 13 primary for the Democratic nomination in state Senate District 22, hoping to unseat Senator Marty Golden, one of the few Republican elected officials in the city. The district covers swaths of southern Brooklyn, including Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Marine Park, and Gerritsen Beach.

Immigration justice is a prominent part of Barkan’s policy platform, and one that has taken on added significance under the Trump administration with its “zero tolerance” policy towards illegal immigration and some asylum seekers. Barkan has called for abolishing ICE, the immigration enforcement agency, and supports the passage of the New York Liberty Act, the DREAM Act, and giving driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, among other immigrant protections.

Gounardes, who is the general counsel to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and a longtime Democratic presence in the area, including a 2012 bid to unseat Golden, has a similar platform and has backed some of the same policies as Barkan, including driver’s licenses and the Liberty Act. Gounardes is in favor of removing ICE from courthouses in the city but has not called for doing away with the agency entirely. He has the backing of the Working Families Party (WFP), prominent labor unions, and Democratic clubs. His previous boss, former City Council Member Vincent Gentile, has endorsed him as well, and he is close to the current Council Member in the area, Justin Brannan.

Gounardes’ outspoken support of immigrant rights, however, conflicts with his embrace of Capano, the Brooklyn Reform Party chair. Gounardes’ campaign website notably does not tout the Reform Party endorsement, which he received last month after being handed a Wilson Pakula certificate to obtain the party’s ballot line. He is running unopposed in the Reform Party primary and therefore is guaranteed both the Reform and WFP lines on the November 7 general election ballot (it is unlikely he would run a campaign in the general if he loses the Democratic primary to Barkan, however).

Capano, an adjunct political science professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, unsuccessfully ran as a Republican to replace Gentile in the 43rd Council District, when Gentile was term-limited out of the City Council last year. Capano and his branch of the Reform Party skew conservative, and he has been vocal in his anti-immigrant positions. He has been a prominent supporter of President Donald Trump and endorsed him in the 2016 Republican primary. He opposes Mayor Bill de Blasio’s progressive policies and recently supported ICE’s detention of Pablo Villavicencio, the undocumented pizza delivery worker who was taken into custody when making a delivery at Fort Hamilton army base.

“Political correctness can’t be allowed to determine which laws are worthy of prosecution and enforcement. The law is the law, and must be followed by all,” Capano wrote in an op-ed for Brooklyn Daily. Last year, Capano was heavily critical of Khader El-Yateem, a Democratic primary candidate for the 43rd Council District, calling the faith leader, who is a Lutheran pastor, a “radical cleric” and insisting that the nonprofit organization where he serves as treasurer, the Arab-American Association of New York, should be investigated for delving into political activities. Capano donated $125 to Gounardes’ campaign, and Curtis Sliwa, the chair of the state Reform Party, donated $100, according to campaign finance filings with the state Board of Elections. While the Reform Party has very few enrolled members, it has a ballot line to offer and a name that signifies good values to many voters.

On Monday, a few hours after Gotham Gazette asked Gounardes’ spokespersons for comment about his embrace of Capano, his campaign sent out a press release touting his immigration platform.

gounardes subway“To equate support with the Reform Party's agenda with anti-immigrant views is spurious,” Gounardes (pictured left) said in a statement to Gotham Gazette. “Throughout my entire career, I have been outspoken in my support for and in defense of immigrants and refugees. I was one of the first people in my neighborhood to vociferously condemn the NYPD's illegal surveillance in mosques, cafes, and bookstores. I have given speeches urging for more to be done to help refugees around the world...I am running a campaign based on action and issues that affect the community, and that is both how and why I will win this November."

Gounardes also noted that he is sponsoring a bystander training session later this week with The Accompany Project, an initiative of the Arab-American Association. The session comes in response to a recent incident of a Muslim woman being verbally accosted on a Staten Island-bound bus.

Barkan, in a phone interview a few hours before Gounardes’ statement, said it was “quite frankly confusing” that Gounardes chose to accept the Reform Party endorsement and align himself with someone whose views are “antithetical” to Democrats in 2018. Barkan, who said he is attending a separate bystander training on Tuesday night sponsored by the city with the AAANY, pointed to the bus incident as evidence that hate is increasingly being normalized even in communities in New York with large immigrant populations.

“My campaign is a repudiation of everything Bob Capano stands for,” Barkan said. “We can’t defeat Marty Golden by emboldening racism and anti-immigrant attacks. We have to counter it at every turn.”

Barkan called on Gounardes to return the donation from Capano and to drop the Reform Party line. “The money’s not the only issue. The issue is a larger one. You’re running on a party line whose borough chair has made the headlines for anti-immigrant attacks, for supporting Donald Trump vociferously. I firmly disagree with any politician or candidate, Andrew or anyone else, who thinks you can run on a party line and take some of what the party stands for but not the rest of it.”

The Barkan campaign connected Gotham Gazette with residents in the district who were apprehensive about Gounardes being allied with Capano.

Fatima Elmansy, a Bay Ridge resident who worked on El-Yateem’s campaign last year, said she decided to vote for Barkan after hearing of Capano’s support for Gounardes.

“[Barkan and Gounardes] both clearly have appealing characteristics and its almost hard to find what exactly the differentiation is,” she said in a phone interview, “but finding this out was very jarring to me and a little concerning. It’s quite difficult to advocate against bigotry and racism and then have something like this happen. It’s almost empowering that. I know Bob Capano...isn’t exactly not a racist.”

She added, “It definitely puts a lot of Andrew’s views into question and in south Brooklyn, in the specific area he’s running in, it’s really important I think to be a very accepting and open person and stand against racism and bigotry very clearly.”

Community organizer and social worker Costa Kokkinos, another resident, said in an email, “Any association or quid pro quo with Bob Capano is troubling news for many reasons. This is the same Bob Capano that spent most of his breath trying to convince voters that he was a bigger supporter of Trump than any other Republican candidate during his City Council campaign last year.”

Capano and other competitors lost the Republican primary by a wide margin to John Quaglione, an aide to Golden, who went on to lose narrowly against Brannan.

Kokkinos also cited Capano’s repeated use of terms like “illegal aliens” to describe immigrants. “I don’t know Andrew Gounardes very well and he seems like a genuinely good person and a good candidate for the State Senate, but if he is so willing to associate with Capano to get a few extra votes, I wonder what he will give this guy in return if he wins?,” Kokkinos wondered. “Is he willing to do the hard identity work that this State Senate district needs to evolve?”

In a statement, Capano said, “Andrew Gounardes and I do not agree on everything. The Reform Party is not about any one person's purported positions, but rather our focus on cleaning up Albany.”

He added, “We respect that Andrew stands up for the causes he believes in, and he is the only candidate, regardless of party, with a platform that will achieve a less corrupt government."

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

Note: This article has been updated to reflect that Gounardes is sponsoring the Accompany Project event, not just attending it, and Barkan is going to attend a separate event on Tuesday, July 24.

Note: Ross Barkan wrote a handful of articles for Gotham Gazette in 2012-2013.

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In Democratic Senate Primary, Barkan Criticizes Gounardes for Embracing 'Anti-Immigrant' Reform Party Leader Mon, 23 Jul 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Max & Murphy Podcast: A Journalist Runs for State Senate http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7536-max-murphy-podcast-a-journalist-runs-for-state-senate http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7536-max-murphy-podcast-a-journalist-runs-for-state-senate mxm logo

Ben Max, left, of Gotham Gazette, and Jarrett Murphy, right, of City Limits


March 13, 2018 - Max & Murphy Podcast: A Journalist Runs for State Senate, with Ross Barkan

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Ross Barkan announced late last year that he was making the leap from journalism to running for elected office and entered the race in the 22nd State Senate District, a Brooklyn seat currently held by Republican Marty Golden that is on the ballot this fall. Golden is part of the GOP majority in the Senate that Democrats like Barkan blame for preventing a host of progressive legislation from moving through the Legislature.

Before he can directly take on Golden, Barkan must first prevail in the Democratic primary, where he faces Andrew Gounardes, an aide to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams who lost to Golden in 2012. (We had booked both Barkan and Gounardes for this episode, but Gounardes later said a work obligation came up, so Barkan appeared alone.)

In this episode, Barkan explains his rationale for running, how journalism has prepared him for elected office, his campaign platform, and more.

Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter @TweetBenMax and @JarrettMurphy and guest Ross Barkan (@RossBarkan). You can listen to the episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Max & Murphy Podcast: A Journalist Runs for State Senate Tue, 13 Mar 2018 04:00:00 +0000