Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/keith-wright 2017-10-21T10:04:47+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Extraordinary District Leader Ballot Feud Escalates to State's Highest Court 2017-08-29T04:00:00+00:00 2017-08-29T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7161:extraordinary-district-leader-ballot-feud-escalates-to-states-highest-court Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/court-of-appeals.jpg" alt="court of appeals" width="600" height="273" /></p> <p>The State Court of Appeals (wikicommons)</p> <hr /> <p>District leader races typically receive scant media coverage or scrutiny from the state’s Board of Elections investigative division. Disagreements over candidate petitioning for the unpaid, party position are typically settled by borough Board of Elections officials and occasionally advance to a county-level Supreme Court. However, this week, a dispute over the validity of what amounts to 12 signatures for a pair of Harlem district leader candidates -- an incumbent and a newcomer sharing a slate -- is headed to the state’s highest court.</p> <p>On Wednesday, the New York State Court of Appeals in Albany will consider whether to examine if multiple New York Supreme Court judges were justified in unanimously reinstating Norma Campusano and Daniel Clark to the ballot for September’s Democratic primary. This, after the candidates were booted off the ballot by the Manhattan Board of Elections due to what its officials deemed a valid signature challenge from Campusano and Clark’s political opponents.</p> <p>A district leader ballot petitioning case reaching the state's highest court is an extraordinary rarity, but the particulars of this conflict can be traced to the type of often-divisive county party politics that dominates elections for virtually every elected position.</p> <p>The role of district leader comes with <a href="http://manhattandemocrats.org/about/district-leaders/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">limited official power</a>. These party officials play a role in engaging voters, nominating civil judicial candidates, making formal party endorsements, appointing paid poll workers, and voting for the county Democratic Party chair position, currently held in Manhattan by former Assembly Member Keith Wright. In Manhattan, Assembly Districts are often divided into two to four parts, with each party electing a male and female district leader. Each of Manhattan’s 12 Assembly districts gets 24 votes for party boss, and each district leader is granted an appropriate fraction of that vote.</p> <p>In West Harlem, Campusano is running for female leader for Assembly District 70, Part D, alongside Clark, an incumbent who was previously a political ally of Wright, but is not being supported by Wright now. The incumbent female district leader, Alicia Barksdale, is running for reelection in the same district, and had been joined by Vernon Williams for male district leader, but he was knocked off the ballot, according to Barksdale. Barksdale said she has not received support from Wright in her reelection bid, despite indication from Wright's spokesperson that she has.</p> <p>Corey Ortega, who worked for Wright in the New York State Assembly, and Gricel Ortiz-Thompson are running together for male and female district leader, respectively, and they have been waging a relentless campaign to knock Clark and Campusano off the ballot. Wright has signaled <a href="https://twitter.com/WestHarlemDems/status/873308687930183686" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">tacit support</a> for Ortega given his purported neutrality in the male district leader race.</p> <p>The district is important to Wright, as it is in his backyard (he previously represented the 70th Assembly District), and losing any district leaders there could signal waning support for his leadership and have a ripple effect across the county. While the Democratic party in Manhattan has always been fractured, Wright has been well-liked, but has had a difficult few years. In 2016, he lost a contentious Democratic primary for his retiring mentor Charles Rangel’s congressional seat to rival Adriano Espaillat, then a state Senator, and now he is <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7074-democratic-club-calls-on-wright-to-choose-between-party-leadership-lobbying-job" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">facing blowback</a> for accepting a job at a prominent lobbying firm following his years as a state legislator. Wright followed through on a promise not to run for reelection to the Assembly if he lost the congressional race.</p> <p>In July, Clark and Campusano submitted nearly 2,000 ballot signature petitions, four times the 500-signature minimum for district leaders. The Board of Elections initially invalidated approximately 1,512 of their signatures, leaving them with 488 signatures – 12 short of qualifying for the ballot.</p> <p>Clark and Campusano were kicked off the ballot by the Manhattan Board of Elections, in proceedings overseen by Deputy Chief Clerk William Allen, himself a Democratic District Leader in the neighboring AD 70 Part A and <a href="https://nypost.com/2016/06/20/candidate-fails-to-recuse-himself-from-poll-work-in-district/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a close ally of Wright</a>.</p> <p>New York County Supreme Court Judge Carol Edmead reinstated Clark and Campusano on the ballot on August 11, writing that “the defects alleged in the pleadings are di minimus,” an abbreviation of a Latin doctrine referring trivial matters not worthy of the court’s scrutiny. Four days later, Ortega and Ortiz-Thompson formally retained leading election attorney and former state Senate Minority Leader Marty Connor to block their opponents from getting on the ballot.</p> <p>On August 17, Connor filed an appeal with the First Appellate Division of the New York County Supreme Court, but on August 23, the seven-judge panel “unanimously affirmed” the original court ruling placing Clark and Campusano on the ballot, noting they had been “erroneously invalidated by the Board of Elections.”</p> <p>Connor wrote to the New York State Court of Appeals, requesting that the state’s highest court hear an appeal, and will defend the motion in Albany on Wednesday.</p> <p>Arthur Greig, the election lawyer representing Clark and Campusano, told Gotham Gazette that it is highly unusual for a run-off-the-mill signature challenge to reach the state’s highest court.</p> <p>“Typically, you’ll see people slugging it out in City Council races, where you see they have raised and spent $10,000. But for an unpaid, party position, it’s virtually unheard of,” said Greig.</p> <p>An election case that reaches the appellate courts can cost clients between $5,000 and $15,000 in attorney fees, according to Greig -- a hefty price tag for a chance to be elected to an unpaid position.</p> <p>Greig says he has been paid by Clark and Campusano (though he declined to disclose how much), who <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/download/finance/FilingSched17.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">opened a campaign fundraising account</a> in late August, presumably to help meet their legal fees and will be obligated to file an “11-day pre-primary” financial disclosure with the state Board of Election on September 1 or “10-day post-primary” disclosure by September 22, depending on when the account is processed by the BOE.</p> <p>It is also unclear who is paying for Ortega and Ortiz-Thompson’s challenge. While Ortega has <a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov:8080/plsql_browser/committeesregisteredbydate?timeframe_in=365&amp;date_from=&amp;date_to=&amp;ORDERBY_IN=N" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an active campaign committee</a>, it has not filed a required BOE campaign finance report since July 2016.</p> <p>Ortega and Ortiz-Thompson formed a <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/download/finance/FilingSched17.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">joint election committee</a> that does not designate the office they are respectively seeking on April 20, 2017, but have not filed the required periodic filing due July 17, 2017 or the 32-day pre-primary filing due August 11, 2017.</p> <p>When asked why he was pursuing such an aggressive tactic, Connor said, “I’m a lawyer; I do what my client tells me.” When asked whether he was being paid by Ortega and Ortiz-Thompson, Connor said, “It’s none of your business whether someone is paying me or not.”</p> <p>The New York County Democratic Committee last <a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov:8080/plsql_browser/efs_summary_page?comid_in=C23088&amp;rdate_in=17-JUL-2017&amp;reportid_in=K&amp;eyear_in=2017" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">filed last month</a>, in July 2017, reporting $37,161.86 cash on hand. Because the committee is a “housekeeping” account, it is prohibited from spending funds to influence the outcome of specific campaigns, instead it is required to only spend on party building activities.</p> <p>Connor’s history as a state senator is also newly relevant considering the recent resignation of Senator Daniel Squadron -- who defeated Connor in the 26th Senate District in 2008 --- triggering a special election process where Connor’s name has been floated.</p> <p>Last week, Gothamist’s Ross Barkan <a href="http://gothamist.com/2017/08/25/marty_connor_squadron.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reported</a> that Connor may be seeking the party nomination from Wright for the election that will determine who serves the remainder of Squadron’s term. Connor’s work in aiding an ally of Wright to defeat political opponents in a district leader race of particular concern to Wright could help tip the scales in Connor’s favor.</p> <p>Since the Senate district encoumpasses parts of lower Manhattan and brownstone Brooklyn, Wright and Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Frank Seddio are charged with negotiating the Democratic nominee, which in the Democrat-heavy district is akin to choosing Squadron’s successor. While the majority of the district is in Manhattan, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Democratic Party noted to Gotham Gazette that the seat has historically been held by a Brooklyn resident, and choosing a Brooklynite as Squadron’s successor is important to the party.</p> <p>Sources told Gothamist that Connor, who is from Brooklyn, could be selected as a compromise to serve out the remainder of Squadron’s term. When asked about being potentially selected by party bosses for the nomination, Conner was coy.</p> <p>"I have no idea what people are saying, but that would be interesting, wouldn't it?" He told Gotham Gazette, adding, “It's nice to be thought of after all these years.”</p> <p>Others vying for the seat are Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh whose Manhattan district slightly overlaps with Squadron's Senate district, and Paul Newell, a lower Manhattan activist who has run for state Assembly multiple times. Lincoln Restler, an aide to Mayor Bill de Blasio who has been active in Brooklyn Democratic circles, has also been rumored.</p> <p>The Democratic primary election for Manhattan district leaders and many other seats is September 12. The general election, which will include the special state Senate election, is November 7.</p> <p>

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>EDITOR'S NOTE:<br /><em>This article has been updated multiple times, in part due to misinformation provided by a spokesperson for County leader Keith Wright, who took issue with the original version of the story that indicated Wright was not supporting Alicia Barksdale for reelection as female district leader. Gotham Gazette amended the article to include word of Wright's support for Barksdale, per the spokesperson, Barry Weinberg.</em></p> <p><em>When Barksdale read that updated version of this article that indicated Wright was supporting her reelection, she wrote Gotham Gazette to say,&nbsp;"Your article was news to me. I did text him to thank him if it was true but no response...so I know it isn't true of his support."*</em></p> <p><em>Weinberg, president of the West Harlem Progressive Democratic Club, helped the Ortega and Ortiz-Thompson ticket&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/WestHarlemDems/status/873308687930183686">gather ballot petition signatures</a>&nbsp;and served as witness on them, but told Gotham Gazette he did so on his own accord, not as a representative of Wright or the county party, where he serves as executive director.</em></p> <p><em>On Wednesday, the Court of Appeals declined to revisit the challenge to Clark and Campusano, so they will appear on the ballot September 12.</em></p> <p>*<em>Another update: not long afer the addition of this editor's note, Barksdale wrote Gotham Gazette to say that Wright had called her and given his support and endorsement to her campaign.</em></p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/court-of-appeals.jpg" alt="court of appeals" width="600" height="273" /></p> <p>The State Court of Appeals (wikicommons)</p> <hr /> <p>District leader races typically receive scant media coverage or scrutiny from the state’s Board of Elections investigative division. Disagreements over candidate petitioning for the unpaid, party position are typically settled by borough Board of Elections officials and occasionally advance to a county-level Supreme Court. However, this week, a dispute over the validity of what amounts to 12 signatures for a pair of Harlem district leader candidates -- an incumbent and a newcomer sharing a slate -- is headed to the state’s highest court.</p> <p>On Wednesday, the New York State Court of Appeals in Albany will consider whether to examine if multiple New York Supreme Court judges were justified in unanimously reinstating Norma Campusano and Daniel Clark to the ballot for September’s Democratic primary. This, after the candidates were booted off the ballot by the Manhattan Board of Elections due to what its officials deemed a valid signature challenge from Campusano and Clark’s political opponents.</p> <p>A district leader ballot petitioning case reaching the state's highest court is an extraordinary rarity, but the particulars of this conflict can be traced to the type of often-divisive county party politics that dominates elections for virtually every elected position.</p> <p>The role of district leader comes with <a href="http://manhattandemocrats.org/about/district-leaders/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">limited official power</a>. These party officials play a role in engaging voters, nominating civil judicial candidates, making formal party endorsements, appointing paid poll workers, and voting for the county Democratic Party chair position, currently held in Manhattan by former Assembly Member Keith Wright. In Manhattan, Assembly Districts are often divided into two to four parts, with each party electing a male and female district leader. Each of Manhattan’s 12 Assembly districts gets 24 votes for party boss, and each district leader is granted an appropriate fraction of that vote.</p> <p>In West Harlem, Campusano is running for female leader for Assembly District 70, Part D, alongside Clark, an incumbent who was previously a political ally of Wright, but is not being supported by Wright now. The incumbent female district leader, Alicia Barksdale, is running for reelection in the same district, and had been joined by Vernon Williams for male district leader, but he was knocked off the ballot, according to Barksdale. Barksdale said she has not received support from Wright in her reelection bid, despite indication from Wright's spokesperson that she has.</p> <p>Corey Ortega, who worked for Wright in the New York State Assembly, and Gricel Ortiz-Thompson are running together for male and female district leader, respectively, and they have been waging a relentless campaign to knock Clark and Campusano off the ballot. Wright has signaled <a href="https://twitter.com/WestHarlemDems/status/873308687930183686" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">tacit support</a> for Ortega given his purported neutrality in the male district leader race.</p> <p>The district is important to Wright, as it is in his backyard (he previously represented the 70th Assembly District), and losing any district leaders there could signal waning support for his leadership and have a ripple effect across the county. While the Democratic party in Manhattan has always been fractured, Wright has been well-liked, but has had a difficult few years. In 2016, he lost a contentious Democratic primary for his retiring mentor Charles Rangel’s congressional seat to rival Adriano Espaillat, then a state Senator, and now he is <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7074-democratic-club-calls-on-wright-to-choose-between-party-leadership-lobbying-job" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">facing blowback</a> for accepting a job at a prominent lobbying firm following his years as a state legislator. Wright followed through on a promise not to run for reelection to the Assembly if he lost the congressional race.</p> <p>In July, Clark and Campusano submitted nearly 2,000 ballot signature petitions, four times the 500-signature minimum for district leaders. The Board of Elections initially invalidated approximately 1,512 of their signatures, leaving them with 488 signatures – 12 short of qualifying for the ballot.</p> <p>Clark and Campusano were kicked off the ballot by the Manhattan Board of Elections, in proceedings overseen by Deputy Chief Clerk William Allen, himself a Democratic District Leader in the neighboring AD 70 Part A and <a href="https://nypost.com/2016/06/20/candidate-fails-to-recuse-himself-from-poll-work-in-district/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a close ally of Wright</a>.</p> <p>New York County Supreme Court Judge Carol Edmead reinstated Clark and Campusano on the ballot on August 11, writing that “the defects alleged in the pleadings are di minimus,” an abbreviation of a Latin doctrine referring trivial matters not worthy of the court’s scrutiny. Four days later, Ortega and Ortiz-Thompson formally retained leading election attorney and former state Senate Minority Leader Marty Connor to block their opponents from getting on the ballot.</p> <p>On August 17, Connor filed an appeal with the First Appellate Division of the New York County Supreme Court, but on August 23, the seven-judge panel “unanimously affirmed” the original court ruling placing Clark and Campusano on the ballot, noting they had been “erroneously invalidated by the Board of Elections.”</p> <p>Connor wrote to the New York State Court of Appeals, requesting that the state’s highest court hear an appeal, and will defend the motion in Albany on Wednesday.</p> <p>Arthur Greig, the election lawyer representing Clark and Campusano, told Gotham Gazette that it is highly unusual for a run-off-the-mill signature challenge to reach the state’s highest court.</p> <p>“Typically, you’ll see people slugging it out in City Council races, where you see they have raised and spent $10,000. But for an unpaid, party position, it’s virtually unheard of,” said Greig.</p> <p>An election case that reaches the appellate courts can cost clients between $5,000 and $15,000 in attorney fees, according to Greig -- a hefty price tag for a chance to be elected to an unpaid position.</p> <p>Greig says he has been paid by Clark and Campusano (though he declined to disclose how much), who <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/download/finance/FilingSched17.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">opened a campaign fundraising account</a> in late August, presumably to help meet their legal fees and will be obligated to file an “11-day pre-primary” financial disclosure with the state Board of Election on September 1 or “10-day post-primary” disclosure by September 22, depending on when the account is processed by the BOE.</p> <p>It is also unclear who is paying for Ortega and Ortiz-Thompson’s challenge. While Ortega has <a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov:8080/plsql_browser/committeesregisteredbydate?timeframe_in=365&amp;date_from=&amp;date_to=&amp;ORDERBY_IN=N" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an active campaign committee</a>, it has not filed a required BOE campaign finance report since July 2016.</p> <p>Ortega and Ortiz-Thompson formed a <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/download/finance/FilingSched17.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">joint election committee</a> that does not designate the office they are respectively seeking on April 20, 2017, but have not filed the required periodic filing due July 17, 2017 or the 32-day pre-primary filing due August 11, 2017.</p> <p>When asked why he was pursuing such an aggressive tactic, Connor said, “I’m a lawyer; I do what my client tells me.” When asked whether he was being paid by Ortega and Ortiz-Thompson, Connor said, “It’s none of your business whether someone is paying me or not.”</p> <p>The New York County Democratic Committee last <a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov:8080/plsql_browser/efs_summary_page?comid_in=C23088&amp;rdate_in=17-JUL-2017&amp;reportid_in=K&amp;eyear_in=2017" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">filed last month</a>, in July 2017, reporting $37,161.86 cash on hand. Because the committee is a “housekeeping” account, it is prohibited from spending funds to influence the outcome of specific campaigns, instead it is required to only spend on party building activities.</p> <p>Connor’s history as a state senator is also newly relevant considering the recent resignation of Senator Daniel Squadron -- who defeated Connor in the 26th Senate District in 2008 --- triggering a special election process where Connor’s name has been floated.</p> <p>Last week, Gothamist’s Ross Barkan <a href="http://gothamist.com/2017/08/25/marty_connor_squadron.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reported</a> that Connor may be seeking the party nomination from Wright for the election that will determine who serves the remainder of Squadron’s term. Connor’s work in aiding an ally of Wright to defeat political opponents in a district leader race of particular concern to Wright could help tip the scales in Connor’s favor.</p> <p>Since the Senate district encoumpasses parts of lower Manhattan and brownstone Brooklyn, Wright and Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Frank Seddio are charged with negotiating the Democratic nominee, which in the Democrat-heavy district is akin to choosing Squadron’s successor. While the majority of the district is in Manhattan, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Democratic Party noted to Gotham Gazette that the seat has historically been held by a Brooklyn resident, and choosing a Brooklynite as Squadron’s successor is important to the party.</p> <p>Sources told Gothamist that Connor, who is from Brooklyn, could be selected as a compromise to serve out the remainder of Squadron’s term. When asked about being potentially selected by party bosses for the nomination, Conner was coy.</p> <p>"I have no idea what people are saying, but that would be interesting, wouldn't it?" He told Gotham Gazette, adding, “It's nice to be thought of after all these years.”</p> <p>Others vying for the seat are Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh whose Manhattan district slightly overlaps with Squadron's Senate district, and Paul Newell, a lower Manhattan activist who has run for state Assembly multiple times. Lincoln Restler, an aide to Mayor Bill de Blasio who has been active in Brooklyn Democratic circles, has also been rumored.</p> <p>The Democratic primary election for Manhattan district leaders and many other seats is September 12. The general election, which will include the special state Senate election, is November 7.</p> <p>

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>EDITOR'S NOTE:<br /><em>This article has been updated multiple times, in part due to misinformation provided by a spokesperson for County leader Keith Wright, who took issue with the original version of the story that indicated Wright was not supporting Alicia Barksdale for reelection as female district leader. Gotham Gazette amended the article to include word of Wright's support for Barksdale, per the spokesperson, Barry Weinberg.</em></p> <p><em>When Barksdale read that updated version of this article that indicated Wright was supporting her reelection, she wrote Gotham Gazette to say,&nbsp;"Your article was news to me. I did text him to thank him if it was true but no response...so I know it isn't true of his support."*</em></p> <p><em>Weinberg, president of the West Harlem Progressive Democratic Club, helped the Ortega and Ortiz-Thompson ticket&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/WestHarlemDems/status/873308687930183686">gather ballot petition signatures</a>&nbsp;and served as witness on them, but told Gotham Gazette he did so on his own accord, not as a representative of Wright or the county party, where he serves as executive director.</em></p> <p><em>On Wednesday, the Court of Appeals declined to revisit the challenge to Clark and Campusano, so they will appear on the ballot September 12.</em></p> <p>*<em>Another update: not long afer the addition of this editor's note, Barksdale wrote Gotham Gazette to say that Wright had called her and given his support and endorsement to her campaign.</em></p>
In Manhattan, District Leader Maps Redrawn Last Minute and Hard to Find 2017-08-07T20:12:09+00:00 2017-08-07T20:12:09+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7111:in-manhattan-district-leader-maps-redrawn-last-minute-and-hard-to-find Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/district_leader_palm_card_kim.png" alt="district leader palm card kim" width="600" height="566" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 500;"></span><span style="font-weight: 500;">Kim Moscaritolo&nbsp;</span>and Adam Roberts, district leaders for Manhattan's Assembly District 76, Part B<span style="font-weight: 500;"><br /></span></p> <hr /> <p>While much of the media and public’s attention is focussed on New York’s <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7099-20-races-to-watch-in-the-2017-city-election-cycle" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mayoral and City Council races</a>, lesser known elections are also slated to take place this fall.</p> <p>On primary day, September 12, and election day, November 7, Manhattanites will vote on their district leaders. While the position is part-time and unpaid, it comes with a degree of influence and is often a stepping stone to greater political posts. Sometimes elected officials at higher levels are also district leaders, giving them additional power.</p> <p>The county committee, which is made up of two to four representatives from each election district, is too large and unwieldy to be an effective body. Therefore, district leaders are elected biennially to form an executive committee and are enabled to exercise all or most of the powers of the county committee. In addition to acting as a liaison between constituents and paid elected officials, district leaders play a role in nominating civil judicial candidates, making formal party endorsements, and appointing paid poll workers.&nbsp;&nbsp;They also&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7074-democratic-club-calls-on-wright-to-choose-between-party-leadership-lobbying-job">vote for the Democratic Party county chairman</a>.</p> <p>In three boroughs -- Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the Bronx -- a pair of district leaders are elected per State Assembly district, one male and one female. But in Queens and Manhattan, Assembly districts may be divided into two, three, or four district leader parts, marked by the letters A, B, C, and D.</p> <p>To get on the ballot, candidates must collect 500 signatures from residents of their Assembly district, or their part of an Assembly district, which in Manhattan can be comprised of between 10 and 50 election districts, BOE subdivisions marked by designated polling places within Assembly districts. Signatures from outside these boundaries can be challenged by an opponent, potentially leading to removal from the ballot.</p> <p>This year, several candidates for district leader positions say that a last minute redrawing of the Manhattan election district map sparked confusion and misinformation just days before the June ballot petitioning period kicked off. Ballot petitioning is the signature-gathering process whereby candidates qualify for the election ballot.</p> <p>When election districts are changed, the party must then adjust the district leader parts. A preliminary draft of the new “party call” -- which lists which election districts belong in which Assembly district parts -- is submitted to current Manhattan district leaders along with a map to see where additional adjustments can or should be made.</p> <p>Typically, district leaders agree on the boundaries amongst themselves and the party sends out a third version of the party call, which according to Manhattan Democratic Party rules, must be approved by district leaders with a two-thirds vote.</p> <p>This year, petitioning for district leader races began June 6, with the forms due between July 10 and July 13. Due to the newly drawn election districts, the district leader parts had yet to be made permanent or public by the final week in May, and candidates say the related confusion cut into their petitioning time and chances for success.</p> <p>"It was very short notice to find out the lines have changed and that greatly impacted people's targets,” said Ny Whitaker, a candidate for the 68th Assembly District, Part D. “I know for sure that I lost some huge blocks where I've built relationships over the last few years."</p> <p>In New York City, getting on the ballot for any elected seat is <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/open-government/252-understanding-the-labyrinth-new-yorks-ballot-access-laws" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a notoriously complex process</a>, riddled with pitfalls that can cause even experienced candidates to stumble, but for county party races like district leader, in some boroughs it can be that much more challenging to obtain basic information and clarity about guidelines.</p> <p>To deduce where their district parts are located, district leader candidates in Manhattan (and Queens) must match up the most recent “party call,” which lists which one- to two-block election districts are located in each part, with the latest election district map, available from the Manhattan (or Queens) Board of Elections.</p> <p>"There are many intricate layers to running for a party position, but there isn't a manual for telling you how to run,” said Whitaker. “Calculating the number of voters that you need for party positions and county positions is like a statistical equation involving algebra, geometry, and geography."</p> <p>For non-incumbents, unless they are very knowledgeable about the process, obtaining this information is even harder. The party call listed on the Manhattan Democratic Party <a href="http://manhattandemocrats.org/about/find-your-assembly-district-part/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">website</a> is out-of-date (though this is an improvement from Queens, where the Democratic Party does not have a website to reference).</p> <p>Whitaker, who ran for district leader positions twice before, said the information was changed on such short notice that Votebuilder -- the voter roll database compiled by the Democratic National Committee, made available to Democratic candidates for a hefty subscription fee -- had not been updated with the new data, and until the very last petitioning day, even the Board of Elections could not provide an updated election district map.</p> <p>Whitaker, who wound up obtaining the new party call and latest electoral district map from the Manhattan Board of Elections office one day before the start of petitioning, said she only knew of the maps being redrawn because she attended the New York County Democratic Party’s executive committee meeting on May 17.</p> <p>During that meeting, district leader Johnny Rivera, who represents the 68th District, Part B, raised concerns about the short window he had to review any changes that were made to his part. However, he said, party officials were unwilling to address his concerns citing time constraints.</p> <p>“I am a district leader and I had some difficulty getting that information. It’s fundamental to running in a race, you need to know the boundaries to use your time wisely in collecting signatures in that particular election district,” Rivera told Gotham Gazette. “Not knowing that can cost you the election.”</p> <p>The last time Assembly districts are redrawn was in 2012, however, the Manhattan Board of Elections is required to regularly alter election districts to accommodate demographic shifts and ensure that poll sites are well utilized. The redistricting often results in a complete renumbering of election districts on the map and with some EDs, as they are called, even dragged from one Assembly district into another.</p> <p>This year, the redistricting triggered a three-step effort to reconstruct the map in a way that is understandable and agreeable to current district leaders, according to Barry Weinberg, executive director for the New York County (Manhattan) Democratic Party, who was involved in the painstaking process.</p> <p>Weinberg said he and the party’s law chair received the new part lines on May 11, stayed up all night to create the preliminary party call and sent it out to district leaders the following day for review.</p> <p>“From the party’s perspective, we worked as fast as we possibly could to turn around the draft of the party call in under 24 hours, given the time constraints,” said Weinberg.</p> <p>There were some disagreements, such as one case, in Lower Manhattan’s 65th Assembly District, where one boundary cut through a housing project. But in most cases, the district leaders worked things out on a conference call, according to Weinberg. There were also a few errors with the original election district map that had to be corrected by the Board of Elections.</p> <p>But Rivera, the district leader, said he was not aware of changes made to his part until hours before the May 17 vote, and asked that the vote be postponed, a request that was denied. The party call was due to be submitted to the BOE by May 23.</p> <p>Politics of course plays a role in how the boundaries are determined, and those who are not allies of County Democratic Party boss Keith Wright say they can be subtly shut out of the process.</p> <p>“The final changes, I didn’t have a say in it. I think it all depends on your relationship with the chairman. If you are in, you probably get the lines you wanted. If you are not in, you get whatever he decides, and you get it two or three hours before the meeting,” Rivera told Gotham Gazette, referring to Wright..</p> <p>For district leaders, petitioning was particularly stressful this year for other reasons. Most political candidates throughout the city obtain their petition printouts from a single print shop, <a href="https://www.politicalresources.com/2013-02-19-22-18-56/directory/campaign-media-services/media-production/nyprints-llc" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">owned by Alan Handell</a>, who is entrusted to make sure the forms meet the BOE’s byzantine requirements. When it is an “on year” -- when City Council, mayoral, and other elections are taking place -- this creates a printing backlog delaying the petitioning process, according to at least one district leader who spoke with Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>“Because of the backlog, I wasn’t able to get my petitions until June 9,” three days after petitioning began, said Kelmy Rodriguez, who is challenging District Leader John Ruiz in the 68th Assembly District, Part C.</p> <p>There are few rules dictating how county Democratic parties operate, since they largely are empowered to set their own, and really only answer to the New York State Democratic Party.</p> <p>"The district leaders and the county have the right to have the parts redrawn because the parts are entirely the creature of the party. This year seems like it was done really close to the beginning of petitioning" said Sarah Steiner, a Manhattan election lawyer, who is involved in several district leader races. She added, “I do think the process should be more transparent."</p> <p>The inconsistent divisions in Manhattan formed over a century of New York’s history, a result of regulatory changes, demographic shifts and controversies, according to Doug Kellner, co-chair of the State Board of Elections and former law chair for the Manhattan Democratic Party. &nbsp;The splits often occurred to settle disputes between political clubs or district leaders.</p> <p>“It was something [former Manhattan Democratic Party Chair Herman ‘Denny’ Farrell] did not like to do when he was county leader, because it kept watering down the authority of the district leader,” said Kellner. “When you have eight district leaders in an Assembly district, it’s as if nobody is in charge.”</p> <p>In Manhattan, the practice dates back to the turn of the 20th Century, when it was mainly used as an anti-reform measure, when Tammany Hall -- the political machine that ruled the borough for the first half of the century -- was in power.</p> <p>“It was a method of redistricting and gerrymandering the party organization,” said Kellner. “Until reforms that [former First Lady] Eleanor Roosevelt pushed in the early 1950s, it was abused to prevent insurgents from gaining footholds within the county organization.”</p> <p>Roosevelt, who became heavily involved in reforming city politics after her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt became governor of New York in 1929, was instrumental in democratizing the vote for district leaders. Previously, only county committee members were able to vote for these representatives. Roosevelt and the League of Women Voters were instrumental in implementing the male and female pair, a structure that ensures the inclusion of more women in the party establishment.</p> <p>Redrawing of the parts, Kellner noted, was historically a way to ensure that people who &nbsp;belonged to a particular political club lived in the appropriate part.</p> <p>“It always came down to, from what I observed, it really was where club people resided, so people wouldn’t always join the club for the territory where they lived and when it came down to do the party call. They might address that by massaging the boundaries between the part,” he said.</p> <p>The regulations have since been loosened to allow club members and district leaders to live in any section of the Assembly district and choose which “part” they run for.</p> <p>Ultimately it is up to the party to find a system that works. The Staten Island Democratic Party previously divided its Assembly districts into parts, calling them “zones,” but at a county committee meeting in May, district leaders voted to adopt the two leader per district structure used by other boroughs.</p> <p>A spokesperson for the Staten Island Democratic Party said it has already saved the county and candidates time and money, streamlined the election process, and made petitioning easier for the upcoming election.</p> <p>In recent years, the Manhattan Democratic Party attracted a lot of young people -- many of whom were energized by the 2008 and 2016 presidential elections -- into the political process, which has sparked a push for more transparency and access across the borough.</p> <p>“There has been an effort to sort of modernize things and make things more available to people and a little more transparent,” said Kim Moscaritolo, district leader for the 76th Assembly District, Part B. “When I was first getting involved, it was nearly impossible to find that information, even finding out who the district leaders were for those parts.”</p> <p>Stephen Redden, member of the Manhattan Young Democrats, which Moscaritolo is active in, is working on creating an interactive, color-coded map to make the district leader information more accessible on the party’s website, according to Weinberg.</p> <p>Previously, candidates would have to get the maps from the BOE and color them in. “If there's a race, you would just draw with a highlighter where the lines are,” said Weinberg. “We’re hoping to bring that into the 21st Century.”</p> <p>The New York City Board of Elections did not respond to a request for comment.</p> <p>

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/district_leader_palm_card_kim.png" alt="district leader palm card kim" width="600" height="566" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 500;"></span><span style="font-weight: 500;">Kim Moscaritolo&nbsp;</span>and Adam Roberts, district leaders for Manhattan's Assembly District 76, Part B<span style="font-weight: 500;"><br /></span></p> <hr /> <p>While much of the media and public’s attention is focussed on New York’s <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7099-20-races-to-watch-in-the-2017-city-election-cycle" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mayoral and City Council races</a>, lesser known elections are also slated to take place this fall.</p> <p>On primary day, September 12, and election day, November 7, Manhattanites will vote on their district leaders. While the position is part-time and unpaid, it comes with a degree of influence and is often a stepping stone to greater political posts. Sometimes elected officials at higher levels are also district leaders, giving them additional power.</p> <p>The county committee, which is made up of two to four representatives from each election district, is too large and unwieldy to be an effective body. Therefore, district leaders are elected biennially to form an executive committee and are enabled to exercise all or most of the powers of the county committee. In addition to acting as a liaison between constituents and paid elected officials, district leaders play a role in nominating civil judicial candidates, making formal party endorsements, and appointing paid poll workers.&nbsp;&nbsp;They also&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7074-democratic-club-calls-on-wright-to-choose-between-party-leadership-lobbying-job">vote for the Democratic Party county chairman</a>.</p> <p>In three boroughs -- Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the Bronx -- a pair of district leaders are elected per State Assembly district, one male and one female. But in Queens and Manhattan, Assembly districts may be divided into two, three, or four district leader parts, marked by the letters A, B, C, and D.</p> <p>To get on the ballot, candidates must collect 500 signatures from residents of their Assembly district, or their part of an Assembly district, which in Manhattan can be comprised of between 10 and 50 election districts, BOE subdivisions marked by designated polling places within Assembly districts. Signatures from outside these boundaries can be challenged by an opponent, potentially leading to removal from the ballot.</p> <p>This year, several candidates for district leader positions say that a last minute redrawing of the Manhattan election district map sparked confusion and misinformation just days before the June ballot petitioning period kicked off. Ballot petitioning is the signature-gathering process whereby candidates qualify for the election ballot.</p> <p>When election districts are changed, the party must then adjust the district leader parts. A preliminary draft of the new “party call” -- which lists which election districts belong in which Assembly district parts -- is submitted to current Manhattan district leaders along with a map to see where additional adjustments can or should be made.</p> <p>Typically, district leaders agree on the boundaries amongst themselves and the party sends out a third version of the party call, which according to Manhattan Democratic Party rules, must be approved by district leaders with a two-thirds vote.</p> <p>This year, petitioning for district leader races began June 6, with the forms due between July 10 and July 13. Due to the newly drawn election districts, the district leader parts had yet to be made permanent or public by the final week in May, and candidates say the related confusion cut into their petitioning time and chances for success.</p> <p>"It was very short notice to find out the lines have changed and that greatly impacted people's targets,” said Ny Whitaker, a candidate for the 68th Assembly District, Part D. “I know for sure that I lost some huge blocks where I've built relationships over the last few years."</p> <p>In New York City, getting on the ballot for any elected seat is <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/open-government/252-understanding-the-labyrinth-new-yorks-ballot-access-laws" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a notoriously complex process</a>, riddled with pitfalls that can cause even experienced candidates to stumble, but for county party races like district leader, in some boroughs it can be that much more challenging to obtain basic information and clarity about guidelines.</p> <p>To deduce where their district parts are located, district leader candidates in Manhattan (and Queens) must match up the most recent “party call,” which lists which one- to two-block election districts are located in each part, with the latest election district map, available from the Manhattan (or Queens) Board of Elections.</p> <p>"There are many intricate layers to running for a party position, but there isn't a manual for telling you how to run,” said Whitaker. “Calculating the number of voters that you need for party positions and county positions is like a statistical equation involving algebra, geometry, and geography."</p> <p>For non-incumbents, unless they are very knowledgeable about the process, obtaining this information is even harder. The party call listed on the Manhattan Democratic Party <a href="http://manhattandemocrats.org/about/find-your-assembly-district-part/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">website</a> is out-of-date (though this is an improvement from Queens, where the Democratic Party does not have a website to reference).</p> <p>Whitaker, who ran for district leader positions twice before, said the information was changed on such short notice that Votebuilder -- the voter roll database compiled by the Democratic National Committee, made available to Democratic candidates for a hefty subscription fee -- had not been updated with the new data, and until the very last petitioning day, even the Board of Elections could not provide an updated election district map.</p> <p>Whitaker, who wound up obtaining the new party call and latest electoral district map from the Manhattan Board of Elections office one day before the start of petitioning, said she only knew of the maps being redrawn because she attended the New York County Democratic Party’s executive committee meeting on May 17.</p> <p>During that meeting, district leader Johnny Rivera, who represents the 68th District, Part B, raised concerns about the short window he had to review any changes that were made to his part. However, he said, party officials were unwilling to address his concerns citing time constraints.</p> <p>“I am a district leader and I had some difficulty getting that information. It’s fundamental to running in a race, you need to know the boundaries to use your time wisely in collecting signatures in that particular election district,” Rivera told Gotham Gazette. “Not knowing that can cost you the election.”</p> <p>The last time Assembly districts are redrawn was in 2012, however, the Manhattan Board of Elections is required to regularly alter election districts to accommodate demographic shifts and ensure that poll sites are well utilized. The redistricting often results in a complete renumbering of election districts on the map and with some EDs, as they are called, even dragged from one Assembly district into another.</p> <p>This year, the redistricting triggered a three-step effort to reconstruct the map in a way that is understandable and agreeable to current district leaders, according to Barry Weinberg, executive director for the New York County (Manhattan) Democratic Party, who was involved in the painstaking process.</p> <p>Weinberg said he and the party’s law chair received the new part lines on May 11, stayed up all night to create the preliminary party call and sent it out to district leaders the following day for review.</p> <p>“From the party’s perspective, we worked as fast as we possibly could to turn around the draft of the party call in under 24 hours, given the time constraints,” said Weinberg.</p> <p>There were some disagreements, such as one case, in Lower Manhattan’s 65th Assembly District, where one boundary cut through a housing project. But in most cases, the district leaders worked things out on a conference call, according to Weinberg. There were also a few errors with the original election district map that had to be corrected by the Board of Elections.</p> <p>But Rivera, the district leader, said he was not aware of changes made to his part until hours before the May 17 vote, and asked that the vote be postponed, a request that was denied. The party call was due to be submitted to the BOE by May 23.</p> <p>Politics of course plays a role in how the boundaries are determined, and those who are not allies of County Democratic Party boss Keith Wright say they can be subtly shut out of the process.</p> <p>“The final changes, I didn’t have a say in it. I think it all depends on your relationship with the chairman. If you are in, you probably get the lines you wanted. If you are not in, you get whatever he decides, and you get it two or three hours before the meeting,” Rivera told Gotham Gazette, referring to Wright..</p> <p>For district leaders, petitioning was particularly stressful this year for other reasons. Most political candidates throughout the city obtain their petition printouts from a single print shop, <a href="https://www.politicalresources.com/2013-02-19-22-18-56/directory/campaign-media-services/media-production/nyprints-llc" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">owned by Alan Handell</a>, who is entrusted to make sure the forms meet the BOE’s byzantine requirements. When it is an “on year” -- when City Council, mayoral, and other elections are taking place -- this creates a printing backlog delaying the petitioning process, according to at least one district leader who spoke with Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>“Because of the backlog, I wasn’t able to get my petitions until June 9,” three days after petitioning began, said Kelmy Rodriguez, who is challenging District Leader John Ruiz in the 68th Assembly District, Part C.</p> <p>There are few rules dictating how county Democratic parties operate, since they largely are empowered to set their own, and really only answer to the New York State Democratic Party.</p> <p>"The district leaders and the county have the right to have the parts redrawn because the parts are entirely the creature of the party. This year seems like it was done really close to the beginning of petitioning" said Sarah Steiner, a Manhattan election lawyer, who is involved in several district leader races. She added, “I do think the process should be more transparent."</p> <p>The inconsistent divisions in Manhattan formed over a century of New York’s history, a result of regulatory changes, demographic shifts and controversies, according to Doug Kellner, co-chair of the State Board of Elections and former law chair for the Manhattan Democratic Party. &nbsp;The splits often occurred to settle disputes between political clubs or district leaders.</p> <p>“It was something [former Manhattan Democratic Party Chair Herman ‘Denny’ Farrell] did not like to do when he was county leader, because it kept watering down the authority of the district leader,” said Kellner. “When you have eight district leaders in an Assembly district, it’s as if nobody is in charge.”</p> <p>In Manhattan, the practice dates back to the turn of the 20th Century, when it was mainly used as an anti-reform measure, when Tammany Hall -- the political machine that ruled the borough for the first half of the century -- was in power.</p> <p>“It was a method of redistricting and gerrymandering the party organization,” said Kellner. “Until reforms that [former First Lady] Eleanor Roosevelt pushed in the early 1950s, it was abused to prevent insurgents from gaining footholds within the county organization.”</p> <p>Roosevelt, who became heavily involved in reforming city politics after her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt became governor of New York in 1929, was instrumental in democratizing the vote for district leaders. Previously, only county committee members were able to vote for these representatives. Roosevelt and the League of Women Voters were instrumental in implementing the male and female pair, a structure that ensures the inclusion of more women in the party establishment.</p> <p>Redrawing of the parts, Kellner noted, was historically a way to ensure that people who &nbsp;belonged to a particular political club lived in the appropriate part.</p> <p>“It always came down to, from what I observed, it really was where club people resided, so people wouldn’t always join the club for the territory where they lived and when it came down to do the party call. They might address that by massaging the boundaries between the part,” he said.</p> <p>The regulations have since been loosened to allow club members and district leaders to live in any section of the Assembly district and choose which “part” they run for.</p> <p>Ultimately it is up to the party to find a system that works. The Staten Island Democratic Party previously divided its Assembly districts into parts, calling them “zones,” but at a county committee meeting in May, district leaders voted to adopt the two leader per district structure used by other boroughs.</p> <p>A spokesperson for the Staten Island Democratic Party said it has already saved the county and candidates time and money, streamlined the election process, and made petitioning easier for the upcoming election.</p> <p>In recent years, the Manhattan Democratic Party attracted a lot of young people -- many of whom were energized by the 2008 and 2016 presidential elections -- into the political process, which has sparked a push for more transparency and access across the borough.</p> <p>“There has been an effort to sort of modernize things and make things more available to people and a little more transparent,” said Kim Moscaritolo, district leader for the 76th Assembly District, Part B. “When I was first getting involved, it was nearly impossible to find that information, even finding out who the district leaders were for those parts.”</p> <p>Stephen Redden, member of the Manhattan Young Democrats, which Moscaritolo is active in, is working on creating an interactive, color-coded map to make the district leader information more accessible on the party’s website, according to Weinberg.</p> <p>Previously, candidates would have to get the maps from the BOE and color them in. “If there's a race, you would just draw with a highlighter where the lines are,” said Weinberg. “We’re hoping to bring that into the 21st Century.”</p> <p>The New York City Board of Elections did not respond to a request for comment.</p> <p>

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
Democratic Club Calls On Wright To Choose Between Party Leadership & Lobbying Job 2017-07-19T23:32:24+00:00 2017-07-19T23:32:24+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7074:democratic-club-calls-on-wright-to-choose-between-party-leadership-lobbying-job Samar Khurshid <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/8453828934_4a9a3cd556_z.jpg" alt="8453828934 4a9a3cd556 z" width="600" height="482" /></p> <p>Manhattan Democratic Party Chair Keith Wright (photo: Governor's Office/Flickr)</p> <hr /> <p>A Manhattan Democratic club is calling on Assemblymember-turned-lobbyist Keith Wright to either resign from his role as chair of the Manhattan Democratic Party or give up his lucrative job at the lobbying firm Davidoff Hutcher &amp; Citron LLP, arguing that the dual role creates a conflict at the “very top of our County Democratic Party.”</p> <p>A <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#scribd" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">letter</a> sent last month by the Village Independent Democrats (VID), obtained by Gotham Gazette, explains that holding the Democratic Party leadership position while working for private clients who deal with government agencies “reflects poorly” on the Democratic Party at a time when it is trying to “rebuild and present itself as an alternative in the upcoming 2018 elections.”</p> <p>The missive, which is signed by the group’s executive committee and club president Erik Coler, followed a meeting at VID’s West Village clubhouse in late June, during which committee members raised concerns with Wright about the job he accepted as government affairs director at the firm earlier this year.</p> <p>“After [an] exhaustive discussion, VID felt that we had to take a bold stance to strengthen public trust in our public and political institutions,” Coler told Gotham Gazette. “We respect all that County Leader Wright has done for the Democratic Party and for the people of New York, and felt that we had to communicate our views to him.”</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wright’s role at the firm, which began in January, is in a consulting capacity since the state’s <a href="http://www.jcope.ny.gov/about/ethc/PUBLIC%20OFFICERS%20LAW%2073.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Public Officers Law</a> prohibits him from lobbying before the state Legislature for two years after leaving the Assembly. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Davidoff Hutcher &amp; Citron, which bills clients $550 an hour for Wright’s services, represents a bevy of </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">government relations clients </span><a href="http://dhclegal.com/law-practice-areas/government-relations/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">includ</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="http://dhclegal.com/law-practice-areas/government-relations/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ing</a> Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, real estate developers and labor groups. Among those are also a number of clients whose interests tend to conflict with the goals and values of the Democratic Party, such as the National Tobacco Company, and </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Metropolitan Package Store Association,</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> which <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20160415105118/http://www.minimumwagerealitycheck.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">actively opposed</a> raising the minimum wage in New York last year.</span></p> <p>The VID letter stops short of a giving Wright an ultimatum, but Coler said the committee hopes that other Democratic clubs will join them in calling on Wright to resign. Wright was not made available for comment on this article.</p> <p>VID, which is one of the oldest Reform Democratic clubs in Manhattan, according to its website, has among its ranks just one district leader, Keen Berger, who wields six of 24 votes for county leader in the 66th Assembly District. (Each of Manhattan’s 12 Assembly districts get 24 votes, and each district leader is granted an appropriate fraction of that vote, according to a spokesperson from the Manhattan Democratic Party. AD 66 has four district leaders, which allows each one a quarter of the district vote.) However, if other political clubs follow VID in its call, it could pose a problem for the well-liked county leader, who is up for re-election in September.</p> <p>Government watchdogs, who have in the past <a href="http://blog.timesunion.com/capitol/archives/272543/reform-groups-call-on-wright-to-drop-dual-role-at-lobby-firm-county-chair/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">criticized Wright’s dual role</a> and called on him to drop one of his posts, commended the political club for speaking out.</p> <p>“If ever there was a time for Democrats to step up and lead on clean government, it’s now, given what’s happening nationally,” said John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany.&nbsp;“You can’t reconcile being the county political boss with what is functionally lobbying. It’s impossible; there is an inherent conflict of interest.”</p> <p>The position taken by VID reflects a national trend, in which Democratic Party leaders who have worked as lobbyists representing entities like tobacco or pharmaceutical companies -- which have interests directly conflicting with their stated progressive goals -- faced blowback from their left-leaning base. Prior to his run for Democratic National Committee chair, Jaime Harrison <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jaime-harrison-dnc-chair_us_58751ff7e4b043ad97e607af" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">resigned</a> from his lobbying position at Podesta Group -- which reps tobacco companies, coal companies and banks -- for that reason.</p> <p>In California, progressives are challenging the election of state Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman, previously the party's vice chairman, over their preferred candidate because of actions they percieved as lobbying. Last year, through&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/Democratic-adviser-Eric-Bauman-collects-cash-to-8088098.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a private consulting firm</a>&nbsp;he runs with his husband and another partner,&nbsp;Bauman accepted $12,500 a month to aid pharmaceutical companies in&nbsp;fighting&nbsp;a Democratic initiative to reduce drug costs, while also working full-time as an adviser to California Assembly Speaker&nbsp;Anthony Rendon.</p> <p>Barry Weinberg, executive director of the New York Democratic Party said Wright has no intention of stepping down from either post, citing the former Assemblymember’s 30-year record of public service, and reputation for integrity. He noted that during Wright’s 24 years in the State Assembly, he voluntarily eschewed any outside income from the private sector.</p> <p>“Similarly, after leaving elected office and before joining the firm, he made sure that his job at Davidoff Hutcher &amp; Citron did not have any conflicts of interest with his role as County Leader, an unpaid party position,” said Weinberg.</p> <p>A statement from Wright’s firm, Davidoff Hutcher &amp; Citron, noted that the company has a full-time ethicist on staff to consider potential conflicts of interest.</p> <p>“The firm will not allow its principles to be compromised, nor will the firm allow Keith to compromise his principles. DHC does not comment on matters regarding specific clients,” the statement reads.</p> <p><em>Correction: An earlier version of this article described Bauman as a lobbyist. A spokesperson for the California Democratic Party clarified that Bauman's company is a consulting firm.</em></p> <p>

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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&nbsp;</p> <p>Read the VID letter below:</p> <p style="margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"><a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/354203650/June-27th-2017-Village-Independent-Democrats#from_embed" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View June 27th, 2017 - Village Independent Democrats on Scribd">June 27th, 2017 - Village Independent Democrats</a></p> <p><a id="scribd"></a></p> <p><iframe src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/354203650/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-kff6SWIBuz4ax9cl2cA2&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%" height="600" id="doc_36651" class="scribd_iframe_embed" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" data-auto-height="false" data-aspect-ratio="0.7729220222793488"></iframe></p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/8453828934_4a9a3cd556_z.jpg" alt="8453828934 4a9a3cd556 z" width="600" height="482" /></p> <p>Manhattan Democratic Party Chair Keith Wright (photo: Governor's Office/Flickr)</p> <hr /> <p>A Manhattan Democratic club is calling on Assemblymember-turned-lobbyist Keith Wright to either resign from his role as chair of the Manhattan Democratic Party or give up his lucrative job at the lobbying firm Davidoff Hutcher &amp; Citron LLP, arguing that the dual role creates a conflict at the “very top of our County Democratic Party.”</p> <p>A <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#scribd" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">letter</a> sent last month by the Village Independent Democrats (VID), obtained by Gotham Gazette, explains that holding the Democratic Party leadership position while working for private clients who deal with government agencies “reflects poorly” on the Democratic Party at a time when it is trying to “rebuild and present itself as an alternative in the upcoming 2018 elections.”</p> <p>The missive, which is signed by the group’s executive committee and club president Erik Coler, followed a meeting at VID’s West Village clubhouse in late June, during which committee members raised concerns with Wright about the job he accepted as government affairs director at the firm earlier this year.</p> <p>“After [an] exhaustive discussion, VID felt that we had to take a bold stance to strengthen public trust in our public and political institutions,” Coler told Gotham Gazette. “We respect all that County Leader Wright has done for the Democratic Party and for the people of New York, and felt that we had to communicate our views to him.”</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wright’s role at the firm, which began in January, is in a consulting capacity since the state’s <a href="http://www.jcope.ny.gov/about/ethc/PUBLIC%20OFFICERS%20LAW%2073.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Public Officers Law</a> prohibits him from lobbying before the state Legislature for two years after leaving the Assembly. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Davidoff Hutcher &amp; Citron, which bills clients $550 an hour for Wright’s services, represents a bevy of </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">government relations clients </span><a href="http://dhclegal.com/law-practice-areas/government-relations/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">includ</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="http://dhclegal.com/law-practice-areas/government-relations/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ing</a> Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, real estate developers and labor groups. Among those are also a number of clients whose interests tend to conflict with the goals and values of the Democratic Party, such as the National Tobacco Company, and </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Metropolitan Package Store Association,</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> which <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20160415105118/http://www.minimumwagerealitycheck.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">actively opposed</a> raising the minimum wage in New York last year.</span></p> <p>The VID letter stops short of a giving Wright an ultimatum, but Coler said the committee hopes that other Democratic clubs will join them in calling on Wright to resign. Wright was not made available for comment on this article.</p> <p>VID, which is one of the oldest Reform Democratic clubs in Manhattan, according to its website, has among its ranks just one district leader, Keen Berger, who wields six of 24 votes for county leader in the 66th Assembly District. (Each of Manhattan’s 12 Assembly districts get 24 votes, and each district leader is granted an appropriate fraction of that vote, according to a spokesperson from the Manhattan Democratic Party. AD 66 has four district leaders, which allows each one a quarter of the district vote.) However, if other political clubs follow VID in its call, it could pose a problem for the well-liked county leader, who is up for re-election in September.</p> <p>Government watchdogs, who have in the past <a href="http://blog.timesunion.com/capitol/archives/272543/reform-groups-call-on-wright-to-drop-dual-role-at-lobby-firm-county-chair/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">criticized Wright’s dual role</a> and called on him to drop one of his posts, commended the political club for speaking out.</p> <p>“If ever there was a time for Democrats to step up and lead on clean government, it’s now, given what’s happening nationally,” said John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany.&nbsp;“You can’t reconcile being the county political boss with what is functionally lobbying. It’s impossible; there is an inherent conflict of interest.”</p> <p>The position taken by VID reflects a national trend, in which Democratic Party leaders who have worked as lobbyists representing entities like tobacco or pharmaceutical companies -- which have interests directly conflicting with their stated progressive goals -- faced blowback from their left-leaning base. Prior to his run for Democratic National Committee chair, Jaime Harrison <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jaime-harrison-dnc-chair_us_58751ff7e4b043ad97e607af" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">resigned</a> from his lobbying position at Podesta Group -- which reps tobacco companies, coal companies and banks -- for that reason.</p> <p>In California, progressives are challenging the election of state Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman, previously the party's vice chairman, over their preferred candidate because of actions they percieved as lobbying. Last year, through&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/Democratic-adviser-Eric-Bauman-collects-cash-to-8088098.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a private consulting firm</a>&nbsp;he runs with his husband and another partner,&nbsp;Bauman accepted $12,500 a month to aid pharmaceutical companies in&nbsp;fighting&nbsp;a Democratic initiative to reduce drug costs, while also working full-time as an adviser to California Assembly Speaker&nbsp;Anthony Rendon.</p> <p>Barry Weinberg, executive director of the New York Democratic Party said Wright has no intention of stepping down from either post, citing the former Assemblymember’s 30-year record of public service, and reputation for integrity. He noted that during Wright’s 24 years in the State Assembly, he voluntarily eschewed any outside income from the private sector.</p> <p>“Similarly, after leaving elected office and before joining the firm, he made sure that his job at Davidoff Hutcher &amp; Citron did not have any conflicts of interest with his role as County Leader, an unpaid party position,” said Weinberg.</p> <p>A statement from Wright’s firm, Davidoff Hutcher &amp; Citron, noted that the company has a full-time ethicist on staff to consider potential conflicts of interest.</p> <p>“The firm will not allow its principles to be compromised, nor will the firm allow Keith to compromise his principles. DHC does not comment on matters regarding specific clients,” the statement reads.</p> <p><em>Correction: An earlier version of this article described Bauman as a lobbyist. A spokesperson for the California Democratic Party clarified that Bauman's company is a consulting firm.</em></p> <p>

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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&nbsp;</p> <p>Read the VID letter below:</p> <p style="margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"><a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/354203650/June-27th-2017-Village-Independent-Democrats#from_embed" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View June 27th, 2017 - Village Independent Democrats on Scribd">June 27th, 2017 - Village Independent Democrats</a></p> <p><a id="scribd"></a></p> <p><iframe src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/354203650/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-kff6SWIBuz4ax9cl2cA2&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%" height="600" id="doc_36651" class="scribd_iframe_embed" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" data-auto-height="false" data-aspect-ratio="0.7729220222793488"></iframe></p>
Holland to Challenge Perkins in Primary for Harlem Council Seat 2017-02-16T22:59:09+00:00 2017-02-16T22:59:09+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6761:holland-to-challenge-perkins-in-september-primary-for-harlem-council-seat Samar Khurshid <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/holland_pic.jpg" alt="holland pic" width="600" height="396" /></p> <p>Marvin Holland (Photo via Holland's campaign)</p> <hr /> <p>Union organizer Marvin Holland, the runner up in Tuesday’s special election for the District 9 City Council seat, has confirmed to Gotham Gazette that he will mount a challenge against the winner Bill Perkins when the seat is up for grabs again later this year.</p> <p>The District 9 seat in Harlem was recently vacated by Inez Dickens, who was elected to the state Assembly, leaving just one year left in the term. A nonpartisan special election for the seat was held on Feb. 14 with nine candidates on the ballot. State Senator Bill Perkins, who held the District 9 seat between 1998 and 2005, won with 3750 votes, about 34 percent of the 11,149 votes cast, according to the New York City Board of Elections’ unofficial results (Final results are certified two weeks after the election). Perkins will serve the rest of Dickens’ term and will have to run for reelection, which will involve a Democratic primary in September.</p> <p>Holland, who came second in the race with 2073 votes, believes that he can build more support and name recognition to pose a stronger challenge in the September primary. “In a few short months, we built a strong, diverse coalition amongst the people most under attack from Trump’s policies, and beat all expectations while highlighting some very important issues facing our community,” Holland said, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. “With this race, the foundation has been laid for a new political future for Harlem.”</p> <p>As political director of Transit Workers Union Local 100, Holland built a coalition of labor and community support and his vote totals even surpassed Larry Scott Blackmon, the favored candidate of the Harlem old guard. Blackmon, a FreshDirect executive, came in fourth in the race with 1,324 votes, despite being endorsed by Dickens and former Assemblymember Keith Wright, who chairs the Manhattan Democratic Party.</p> <p>Holland’s campaign pointed out that 66 percent of the voters didn’t choose Perkins, despite his long history representing the neighborhood and his familiarity in the community. “So, their vote could have been an anti-Perkins choice,” said Jon Greenfield, a spokesperson for Holland, in an email.</p> <p>Greenfield said the race ultimately hinged on name recognition and that Holland can spend the next six months building his own. “Marvin can hold his showing in the East Harlem portion of the district (Assembly District 68), build name recognition in central Harlem over the next months, and gather anti-Perkins, anti-establishment votes,” he said.</p> <p>Holland will also continue to consolidate labor support and reach out to Dickens and Wright for their support. “Harlem deserves elected officials accountable to them,” Holland said. “I intend to keep the promises made to the people during this campaign, and will continue the work we have begun to be their candidate in the September primary for City Council.”</p> <p>The race will still be an uphill challenge for Holland. Perkins received endorsements from Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council’s progressive caucus in the special election. He’s confident that he will be reelected and hopes to do as well in September as he did in the Tuesday special. “I have every reason to believe I’ll do even better,” he said, in a phone interview.</p> <p>He wasn’t surprised to hear Holland will run against him, and even welcomed the challenge. “I wouldn’t be surprised if any of the other candidates that participated in the election are considering the same thing,” he said, insisting that he doesn’t take his frontrunner status for granted. Only one other candidate, Shannette Gray, has officially declared a run for the District 9 seat with the Campaign Finance Board. She did not participate in the special election.</p> <p>“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Perkins said of the election. “We just ran the first mile.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p> <p>Note: this article has been updated.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/holland_pic.jpg" alt="holland pic" width="600" height="396" /></p> <p>Marvin Holland (Photo via Holland's campaign)</p> <hr /> <p>Union organizer Marvin Holland, the runner up in Tuesday’s special election for the District 9 City Council seat, has confirmed to Gotham Gazette that he will mount a challenge against the winner Bill Perkins when the seat is up for grabs again later this year.</p> <p>The District 9 seat in Harlem was recently vacated by Inez Dickens, who was elected to the state Assembly, leaving just one year left in the term. A nonpartisan special election for the seat was held on Feb. 14 with nine candidates on the ballot. State Senator Bill Perkins, who held the District 9 seat between 1998 and 2005, won with 3750 votes, about 34 percent of the 11,149 votes cast, according to the New York City Board of Elections’ unofficial results (Final results are certified two weeks after the election). Perkins will serve the rest of Dickens’ term and will have to run for reelection, which will involve a Democratic primary in September.</p> <p>Holland, who came second in the race with 2073 votes, believes that he can build more support and name recognition to pose a stronger challenge in the September primary. “In a few short months, we built a strong, diverse coalition amongst the people most under attack from Trump’s policies, and beat all expectations while highlighting some very important issues facing our community,” Holland said, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. “With this race, the foundation has been laid for a new political future for Harlem.”</p> <p>As political director of Transit Workers Union Local 100, Holland built a coalition of labor and community support and his vote totals even surpassed Larry Scott Blackmon, the favored candidate of the Harlem old guard. Blackmon, a FreshDirect executive, came in fourth in the race with 1,324 votes, despite being endorsed by Dickens and former Assemblymember Keith Wright, who chairs the Manhattan Democratic Party.</p> <p>Holland’s campaign pointed out that 66 percent of the voters didn’t choose Perkins, despite his long history representing the neighborhood and his familiarity in the community. “So, their vote could have been an anti-Perkins choice,” said Jon Greenfield, a spokesperson for Holland, in an email.</p> <p>Greenfield said the race ultimately hinged on name recognition and that Holland can spend the next six months building his own. “Marvin can hold his showing in the East Harlem portion of the district (Assembly District 68), build name recognition in central Harlem over the next months, and gather anti-Perkins, anti-establishment votes,” he said.</p> <p>Holland will also continue to consolidate labor support and reach out to Dickens and Wright for their support. “Harlem deserves elected officials accountable to them,” Holland said. “I intend to keep the promises made to the people during this campaign, and will continue the work we have begun to be their candidate in the September primary for City Council.”</p> <p>The race will still be an uphill challenge for Holland. Perkins received endorsements from Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council’s progressive caucus in the special election. He’s confident that he will be reelected and hopes to do as well in September as he did in the Tuesday special. “I have every reason to believe I’ll do even better,” he said, in a phone interview.</p> <p>He wasn’t surprised to hear Holland will run against him, and even welcomed the challenge. “I wouldn’t be surprised if any of the other candidates that participated in the election are considering the same thing,” he said, insisting that he doesn’t take his frontrunner status for granted. Only one other candidate, Shannette Gray, has officially declared a run for the District 9 seat with the Campaign Finance Board. She did not participate in the special election.</p> <p>“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Perkins said of the election. “We just ran the first mile.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p> <p>Note: this article has been updated.</p>
Now a Lobbyist, Democratic Power Broker Faces Restrictions in New Job 2017-01-05T05:00:00+00:00 2017-01-05T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6702:now-a-lobbyist-democratic-power-broker-faces-restrictions-in-new-job Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/25090668205_33a25be8b3_z.jpg" alt="Keith Wright Governor Cuomo" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Keith Wright, left, &amp; Gov. Cuomo photo:&nbsp;(Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">A Democratic power broker from Harlem has been hired by a prominent lobbying firm to join its efforts to influence city and state government. Formerly state Democratic Party chair and a member of the state Assembly, Keith Wright is joining Davidoff Hutcher &amp; Citron LLP, but under state law he must avoid matters before both chambers of the state Legislature for two years after leaving office.</p> <p dir="ltr">Wright, who has been involved in New York politics for several decades, is currently chair of the Manhattan Democratic Party. He had been rumored as a City Council or state Senate candidate after he lost in a June Congressional primary and subsequently vacated his Assembly seat after declining to seek reelection. Wright’s move to Davidoff Hutcher &amp; Citron LLP was <a href="http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2017/01/keith-wright-joins-davidoff-hutcher-citron-108429" target="_blank">first reported</a> by Politico New York on Wednesday morning.</p> <p dir="ltr">The former legislator will “immediately take on a leadership role” in the firm’s lobbying at the state and city levels, according to a press release posted on <a href="http://dhclegal.com/former-assemblyman-keith-l-t-wright-joins-government-relations-practice-davidoff-hutcher-citron-llp/" target="_blank">the DHC website</a>. A partner told Gotham Gazette that Wright's exact role is still being defined.</p> <p dir="ltr">Under New York State’s <a href="http://www.jcope.ny.gov/about/ethc/PUBLIC%20OFFICERS%20LAW%2073.pdf" target="_blank">Public Officers Law</a>, however, Wright would be barred from lobbying before the state Legislature for two years. Without commenting specifically on Wright’s case, Walter McClure, director of communications for the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics, said in an email that restrictions under Section 8(a)(iii) apply to former legislators. That section of the law prohibits a former member of the Senate or Assembly from receiving compensation for “any services on behalf of any person, firm, corporation or association to promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, the passage of bills or resolutions by either house of the legislature.”</p> <p dir="ltr">McClure clarified though that a former legislator “could appear before other local, state (such as agencies and/or the Executive Chamber), or federal bodies.” &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Wright has been figuring out his next step since his unsuccessful attempt for retiring Congressional Rep. Charles Rangel’s seat. Wright lost to fellow Democrat Adriano Espaillat in that June primary.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Keith Wright’s only career has been in government and he’s a valuable commodity because of his public service as an elected official,” said Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, a government reform group. “He needs to do what he knows and he knows how government functions very well so he is doing what I think anyone would do in his position.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Dadey said Wright is “an honorable guy” and he should be careful not to come in contact with the state Legislature, but, “everything else is fair game” if he follows the law.</p> <p dir="ltr">Wright’s move comes as budget negotiations will soon begin in Albany. The former Assembly member and Democratic leader has a close relationship with Governor Andrew Cuomo -- as chair of the state party, Wright strongly advocated for the governor’s reelection in 2014. He’s also held crucial positions in the Assembly majority, chairing key committees like housing, and heads the New York County Democratic Party Committee.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We’ve known Keith for a lot of years,” said Charles Capetanakis, partner at DHC and member of the firm’s management committee. Capetanakis said Wright would be part of the government relations team but could not specify in what capacity. “His role and involvement is yet to be determined,” he said, noting the prohibitions that Wright will face under state law. Wright was not made available for comment.</p> <p>In the announcement of his hire, Wright said, “While I will always cherish my time as a New York State Assemblyman, I am ready for a new challenge."</p> <p>DHC's&nbsp;"team of lobbyists" is "led by Sid Davidoff in New York City and Steve Malito in Albany," <a href="http://dhclegal.com/former-assemblyman-keith-l-t-wright-joins-government-relations-practice-davidoff-hutcher-citron-llp/" target="_blank">according to the firm</a>,&nbsp;and "DHC Government Relations clients have included Fortune 500 companies, major cultural institutions, land developers, government contractors, educational institutions, municipalities, public authorities, community interest groups, labor and professional organizations, non-profit corporations, and charities. We have seen success in local, state, and federal advocacy efforts in all of these areas."</p> <p dir="ltr">Government watchdogs do warn that Wright must tread carefully in his new role on the other side of the fence. “[Wright] has to be very careful in the ethically charged political environment in Albany,” said Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group. “My advice to the assemblyman is to follow the spirit, not just the letter of the law in terms of how he deals with government.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Although Horner acknowledged that Wright’s new employment opportunity is “perfectly allowed” under state law and is “a well-tried path” for many lawmakers, he said his organization would instead like to see a more comprehensive ban on lobbying across the state Legislature and the Executive.</p> <p>Citizens Union’s Dadey said, “There is a bright line there that can be followed and [Wright] needs to make sure he follows it, between the Executive and the Legislature. He can influence what the Executive branch presents and decides on the budget but he can’t come anywhere near any legislative activity. There are two halves to this budget process and he needs to make sure he stays in only one half.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Read:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6665-special-election-for-harlem-city-council-seat-kicks-off" target="_blank">Special Election for Harlem City Council Seat Kicks Off</a>]</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p> Note: Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union. </p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/25090668205_33a25be8b3_z.jpg" alt="Keith Wright Governor Cuomo" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Keith Wright, left, &amp; Gov. Cuomo photo:&nbsp;(Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">A Democratic power broker from Harlem has been hired by a prominent lobbying firm to join its efforts to influence city and state government. Formerly state Democratic Party chair and a member of the state Assembly, Keith Wright is joining Davidoff Hutcher &amp; Citron LLP, but under state law he must avoid matters before both chambers of the state Legislature for two years after leaving office.</p> <p dir="ltr">Wright, who has been involved in New York politics for several decades, is currently chair of the Manhattan Democratic Party. He had been rumored as a City Council or state Senate candidate after he lost in a June Congressional primary and subsequently vacated his Assembly seat after declining to seek reelection. Wright’s move to Davidoff Hutcher &amp; Citron LLP was <a href="http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2017/01/keith-wright-joins-davidoff-hutcher-citron-108429" target="_blank">first reported</a> by Politico New York on Wednesday morning.</p> <p dir="ltr">The former legislator will “immediately take on a leadership role” in the firm’s lobbying at the state and city levels, according to a press release posted on <a href="http://dhclegal.com/former-assemblyman-keith-l-t-wright-joins-government-relations-practice-davidoff-hutcher-citron-llp/" target="_blank">the DHC website</a>. A partner told Gotham Gazette that Wright's exact role is still being defined.</p> <p dir="ltr">Under New York State’s <a href="http://www.jcope.ny.gov/about/ethc/PUBLIC%20OFFICERS%20LAW%2073.pdf" target="_blank">Public Officers Law</a>, however, Wright would be barred from lobbying before the state Legislature for two years. Without commenting specifically on Wright’s case, Walter McClure, director of communications for the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics, said in an email that restrictions under Section 8(a)(iii) apply to former legislators. That section of the law prohibits a former member of the Senate or Assembly from receiving compensation for “any services on behalf of any person, firm, corporation or association to promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, the passage of bills or resolutions by either house of the legislature.”</p> <p dir="ltr">McClure clarified though that a former legislator “could appear before other local, state (such as agencies and/or the Executive Chamber), or federal bodies.” &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Wright has been figuring out his next step since his unsuccessful attempt for retiring Congressional Rep. Charles Rangel’s seat. Wright lost to fellow Democrat Adriano Espaillat in that June primary.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Keith Wright’s only career has been in government and he’s a valuable commodity because of his public service as an elected official,” said Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, a government reform group. “He needs to do what he knows and he knows how government functions very well so he is doing what I think anyone would do in his position.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Dadey said Wright is “an honorable guy” and he should be careful not to come in contact with the state Legislature, but, “everything else is fair game” if he follows the law.</p> <p dir="ltr">Wright’s move comes as budget negotiations will soon begin in Albany. The former Assembly member and Democratic leader has a close relationship with Governor Andrew Cuomo -- as chair of the state party, Wright strongly advocated for the governor’s reelection in 2014. He’s also held crucial positions in the Assembly majority, chairing key committees like housing, and heads the New York County Democratic Party Committee.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We’ve known Keith for a lot of years,” said Charles Capetanakis, partner at DHC and member of the firm’s management committee. Capetanakis said Wright would be part of the government relations team but could not specify in what capacity. “His role and involvement is yet to be determined,” he said, noting the prohibitions that Wright will face under state law. Wright was not made available for comment.</p> <p>In the announcement of his hire, Wright said, “While I will always cherish my time as a New York State Assemblyman, I am ready for a new challenge."</p> <p>DHC's&nbsp;"team of lobbyists" is "led by Sid Davidoff in New York City and Steve Malito in Albany," <a href="http://dhclegal.com/former-assemblyman-keith-l-t-wright-joins-government-relations-practice-davidoff-hutcher-citron-llp/" target="_blank">according to the firm</a>,&nbsp;and "DHC Government Relations clients have included Fortune 500 companies, major cultural institutions, land developers, government contractors, educational institutions, municipalities, public authorities, community interest groups, labor and professional organizations, non-profit corporations, and charities. We have seen success in local, state, and federal advocacy efforts in all of these areas."</p> <p dir="ltr">Government watchdogs do warn that Wright must tread carefully in his new role on the other side of the fence. “[Wright] has to be very careful in the ethically charged political environment in Albany,” said Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group. “My advice to the assemblyman is to follow the spirit, not just the letter of the law in terms of how he deals with government.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Although Horner acknowledged that Wright’s new employment opportunity is “perfectly allowed” under state law and is “a well-tried path” for many lawmakers, he said his organization would instead like to see a more comprehensive ban on lobbying across the state Legislature and the Executive.</p> <p>Citizens Union’s Dadey said, “There is a bright line there that can be followed and [Wright] needs to make sure he follows it, between the Executive and the Legislature. He can influence what the Executive branch presents and decides on the budget but he can’t come anywhere near any legislative activity. There are two halves to this budget process and he needs to make sure he stays in only one half.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Read:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6665-special-election-for-harlem-city-council-seat-kicks-off" target="_blank">Special Election for Harlem City Council Seat Kicks Off</a>]</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p> Note: Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union. </p>
Special Election for Harlem City Council Seat Kicks Off 2016-12-12T05:00:00+00:00 2016-12-12T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6665:special-election-for-harlem-city-council-seat-kicks-off Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/marvin_holland_sylvia_tyler-crop.jpg" alt="marvin holland sylvia tyler" width="600" /></p> <p>Council candidate Marvin Holland, right, with Sylvia Tyler (photo via Holland on Twitter)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">It’s going to be a sprint of an election -- though it’s not clear how many candidates are running or how many voters will participate -- with ballots likely to be cast sometime in February.</p> <p dir="ltr">The election of New York City Council Member Inez Dickens to the State Assembly creates an open seat in Council District 9 in Harlem, and a number of contenders have thrown their hats in the ring. As soon as Dickens officially vacates her Council seat, Mayor Bill de Blasio will be required to call a nonpartisan special election.</p> <p dir="ltr">Among the candidates running for Dickens’ seat are union organizer Marvin Holland, State Senator Bill Perkins, community activist Charles Cooper, and Troy Outlaw, who serves on Dickens’ Council staff. Other, lesser-known candidates include Donald Fields, a local businessman and advocate, immigration advocate Mamadou Drame, and Shannette Gray. <a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/40under40/2016/Benjamin">Brian Benjamin</a>, who works in real estate and is involved in the local community board, is rumored to be considering a run, but hasn’t filed paperwork yet.</p> <p dir="ltr">Many have been waiting to see if Assembly Member Keith Wright will join the race. A Democratic power-broker who Dickens is replacing, Wright declined to run for Assembly re-election after pledging not to during his attempt to win Charles Rangel’s Congressional seat. Some say that Benjamin could be Wright’s favored candidate, though the uptown establishment could support Outlaw, or another candidate.</p> <p dir="ltr">Holland, the political director of Transit Workers Union Local 100, came out of the gate fairly early. In a recent interview, he said he is confident about putting together a broad coalition. “I’m well-rooted throughout the Harlem community, with young and old members,” said Holland, who sits on the boards of a number of community organizations including the Latino Leadership Institute, the NYC Labor-Religion Coalition, the the Mid-Manhattan Branch of the NAACP, and Community Voices Heard’s solidarity board.</p> <p dir="ltr">Holland’s message is “Harlem belongs to us,” he said, stressing that investment in the neighborhood needs to benefit its residents rather than creating forces of gentrification and displacement. He wants to create jobs and infrastructure in the community, relying on his experience as a union leader to navigate the complexities of economic policy. “My first priority,” he said, “was to show people I’m a serious candidate...I’m in this race 100 percent to win it.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In a crowded race, anything can happen, but Perkins is especially formidable given his position as an elected official with at least some name recognition in the community.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I would say Bill Perkins probably has the most infrastructure and support in the district,” said Dr. Christina Greer, political science professor at Fordham University. Pointing to the fact that State Senator Adriano Espaillat has been elected to replace Rangel, Greer said the community may be motivated to electe a black City Council member to replace Dickens, who is black. “It’s within U.S. Congressional District 13 and because there’s no African-American representative, Perkins will resonate with some voters who want to see an African-American representative in the district,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Greer said that Perkins’ chances could change significantly if Wright were to jump into the race, though he seems hesitant to do so at this point. It’s unclear whether Wright will be involved in the District 9 race at all. He was not made available for comment for this article. Dickens’ Council office also did not respond to a request for comment.</p> <p dir="ltr">In phone interviews with Gotham Gazette, Holland, Perkins, Cooper, Fields, and Drame all indicated a similar initial approach to the election, formulating coalitions across the community and drumming up support on the ground. Each mentioned several of the same issues, chiefly focusing on creating and preserving affordable housing while bringing more development and jobs to the community. Calls to the candidate committees for Outlaw and Gray went unanswered.</p> <p dir="ltr">Perkins previously held the Council seat for seven years before becoming a state Senator in 2006. He said his decision to attempt a return to city government was based largely on the opportunity to make more of an impact, which has been denied to Democrats who have been in the minority in the Senate. “I’m going to essentially be serving the same neighborhood with an opportunity to not only serve but to deliver,” Perkins said of potentially rejoining the Council, which currently has 48 Democrats and three Republicans.</p> <p dir="ltr">Recalling his days in activist-oriented community work, Perkins said he is focusing on galvanizing community support. “It’s a winning formula for me,” he said. “I’m not a big moneymaker..I’m going where my strengths are, with the community, with the people.” &nbsp;And he believes he has a good chance of winning the seat. “There’s nothing guaranteed but I feel that my support in the past for elected office has been encouraging,” he said. “I feel in sync with this district. They’re familiar with me over the years, they’re familiar with the work I’ve done.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Perkins and Wright are not close. Wright is the leader of the Manhattan Democratic Party and a key cog in the state’s party infrastructure. Perkins is not expected to have a lot of institutional support, whether Wright runs or not. Because it is a city-level special election, there are no traditional party lines. The winner will serve for less than a year before having to run again in the fall, when all 51 Council seats will be on the ballot, as well as borough- and city-wide posts.</p> <p dir="ltr">Perkins promised, if elected, to seek out alliances within the Council and join its Progressive Caucus. He’ll focus on affordable housing, he said, “not as it’s defined by developers but as defined by what’s in the pocket of the people in the community.” He said he’s not overly confident, stressing that the race will be competitive.</p> <p dir="ltr">Perkins’ entry into the race hasn’t discouraged Holland, who is confident, especially given his union ties and organizing experience. Holland said in an interview that he is building a broad coalition of support including unions, district leaders, activists, and tenant leaders; he officially opened his new campaign headquarters Dec. 7.</p> <p dir="ltr">For Charles Cooper, the election is an opportunity to get Harlem residents involved in community decisions. “I think oftentimes, especially in a special election, you have very low turnout which isn’t representative of the district as a whole,” he said, underscoring the need to spread awareness of the election and to get voters engaged. Special elections are notoriously low-turnout.</p> <p dir="ltr">Cooper stressed the importance of people’s involvement, particularly after the election of Donald Trump as President. “We need to focus more and more on our local politics,” he said. “The City Council has a direct impact on the resources that come to our community.” Cooper, much like his opponents, said his campaign is a district-wide coalition of groups that will highlight issues of job creation, education, public safety, and housing.</p> <p dir="ltr">Immigration advocate Mamadou Drame said he’s been planning his run for District 9 for the last two years, spurred into action by an older generation that has been more passive towards politics. He said he’s lost faith in the current crop of elected officials, who “come to the district every four years for your vote and then forget about the community.”</p> <p dir="ltr">A Senegalese immigrant who has worked for years in immigrant services, he believes he’ll get support from the African immigrant population in Harlem. He’ll appeal to millennials and seniors alike, he said, with a campaign centered on reducing unemployment and “an inclusive approach to gentrification” that helps the community. “The question is, ‘how can we embrace development?,’” he said, “We can’t always be fighting it.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“We need to forge a path of new leadership,” said candidate Donald Fields, a managing partner at Fields &amp; Associates, a consultancy, who previously worked for the city’s child welfare agency. Fields emphasized the need for new blood to replace the “old guard” that has dominated the Harlem political scene for years. Although Fields said he respects them and their work, he believes that younger leaders will be able to bring about faster change.</p> <p dir="ltr">Like Holland others, Fields is also undeterred by facing Perkins in the race. “It hasn’t slowed down my passion,” he said. “It hasn’t stopped my zeal to win or my focus on what the district needs.” His biggest priority is fighting gentrification while encouraging necessary development.</p> <p>“Whoever wins this race must have a vision for the district and must be committed to deliver that vision,” Fields said. “That cannot be tied to backroom politics and special interests.”</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/marvin_holland_sylvia_tyler-crop.jpg" alt="marvin holland sylvia tyler" width="600" /></p> <p>Council candidate Marvin Holland, right, with Sylvia Tyler (photo via Holland on Twitter)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">It’s going to be a sprint of an election -- though it’s not clear how many candidates are running or how many voters will participate -- with ballots likely to be cast sometime in February.</p> <p dir="ltr">The election of New York City Council Member Inez Dickens to the State Assembly creates an open seat in Council District 9 in Harlem, and a number of contenders have thrown their hats in the ring. As soon as Dickens officially vacates her Council seat, Mayor Bill de Blasio will be required to call a nonpartisan special election.</p> <p dir="ltr">Among the candidates running for Dickens’ seat are union organizer Marvin Holland, State Senator Bill Perkins, community activist Charles Cooper, and Troy Outlaw, who serves on Dickens’ Council staff. Other, lesser-known candidates include Donald Fields, a local businessman and advocate, immigration advocate Mamadou Drame, and Shannette Gray. <a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/40under40/2016/Benjamin">Brian Benjamin</a>, who works in real estate and is involved in the local community board, is rumored to be considering a run, but hasn’t filed paperwork yet.</p> <p dir="ltr">Many have been waiting to see if Assembly Member Keith Wright will join the race. A Democratic power-broker who Dickens is replacing, Wright declined to run for Assembly re-election after pledging not to during his attempt to win Charles Rangel’s Congressional seat. Some say that Benjamin could be Wright’s favored candidate, though the uptown establishment could support Outlaw, or another candidate.</p> <p dir="ltr">Holland, the political director of Transit Workers Union Local 100, came out of the gate fairly early. In a recent interview, he said he is confident about putting together a broad coalition. “I’m well-rooted throughout the Harlem community, with young and old members,” said Holland, who sits on the boards of a number of community organizations including the Latino Leadership Institute, the NYC Labor-Religion Coalition, the the Mid-Manhattan Branch of the NAACP, and Community Voices Heard’s solidarity board.</p> <p dir="ltr">Holland’s message is “Harlem belongs to us,” he said, stressing that investment in the neighborhood needs to benefit its residents rather than creating forces of gentrification and displacement. He wants to create jobs and infrastructure in the community, relying on his experience as a union leader to navigate the complexities of economic policy. “My first priority,” he said, “was to show people I’m a serious candidate...I’m in this race 100 percent to win it.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In a crowded race, anything can happen, but Perkins is especially formidable given his position as an elected official with at least some name recognition in the community.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I would say Bill Perkins probably has the most infrastructure and support in the district,” said Dr. Christina Greer, political science professor at Fordham University. Pointing to the fact that State Senator Adriano Espaillat has been elected to replace Rangel, Greer said the community may be motivated to electe a black City Council member to replace Dickens, who is black. “It’s within U.S. Congressional District 13 and because there’s no African-American representative, Perkins will resonate with some voters who want to see an African-American representative in the district,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Greer said that Perkins’ chances could change significantly if Wright were to jump into the race, though he seems hesitant to do so at this point. It’s unclear whether Wright will be involved in the District 9 race at all. He was not made available for comment for this article. Dickens’ Council office also did not respond to a request for comment.</p> <p dir="ltr">In phone interviews with Gotham Gazette, Holland, Perkins, Cooper, Fields, and Drame all indicated a similar initial approach to the election, formulating coalitions across the community and drumming up support on the ground. Each mentioned several of the same issues, chiefly focusing on creating and preserving affordable housing while bringing more development and jobs to the community. Calls to the candidate committees for Outlaw and Gray went unanswered.</p> <p dir="ltr">Perkins previously held the Council seat for seven years before becoming a state Senator in 2006. He said his decision to attempt a return to city government was based largely on the opportunity to make more of an impact, which has been denied to Democrats who have been in the minority in the Senate. “I’m going to essentially be serving the same neighborhood with an opportunity to not only serve but to deliver,” Perkins said of potentially rejoining the Council, which currently has 48 Democrats and three Republicans.</p> <p dir="ltr">Recalling his days in activist-oriented community work, Perkins said he is focusing on galvanizing community support. “It’s a winning formula for me,” he said. “I’m not a big moneymaker..I’m going where my strengths are, with the community, with the people.” &nbsp;And he believes he has a good chance of winning the seat. “There’s nothing guaranteed but I feel that my support in the past for elected office has been encouraging,” he said. “I feel in sync with this district. They’re familiar with me over the years, they’re familiar with the work I’ve done.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Perkins and Wright are not close. Wright is the leader of the Manhattan Democratic Party and a key cog in the state’s party infrastructure. Perkins is not expected to have a lot of institutional support, whether Wright runs or not. Because it is a city-level special election, there are no traditional party lines. The winner will serve for less than a year before having to run again in the fall, when all 51 Council seats will be on the ballot, as well as borough- and city-wide posts.</p> <p dir="ltr">Perkins promised, if elected, to seek out alliances within the Council and join its Progressive Caucus. He’ll focus on affordable housing, he said, “not as it’s defined by developers but as defined by what’s in the pocket of the people in the community.” He said he’s not overly confident, stressing that the race will be competitive.</p> <p dir="ltr">Perkins’ entry into the race hasn’t discouraged Holland, who is confident, especially given his union ties and organizing experience. Holland said in an interview that he is building a broad coalition of support including unions, district leaders, activists, and tenant leaders; he officially opened his new campaign headquarters Dec. 7.</p> <p dir="ltr">For Charles Cooper, the election is an opportunity to get Harlem residents involved in community decisions. “I think oftentimes, especially in a special election, you have very low turnout which isn’t representative of the district as a whole,” he said, underscoring the need to spread awareness of the election and to get voters engaged. Special elections are notoriously low-turnout.</p> <p dir="ltr">Cooper stressed the importance of people’s involvement, particularly after the election of Donald Trump as President. “We need to focus more and more on our local politics,” he said. “The City Council has a direct impact on the resources that come to our community.” Cooper, much like his opponents, said his campaign is a district-wide coalition of groups that will highlight issues of job creation, education, public safety, and housing.</p> <p dir="ltr">Immigration advocate Mamadou Drame said he’s been planning his run for District 9 for the last two years, spurred into action by an older generation that has been more passive towards politics. He said he’s lost faith in the current crop of elected officials, who “come to the district every four years for your vote and then forget about the community.”</p> <p dir="ltr">A Senegalese immigrant who has worked for years in immigrant services, he believes he’ll get support from the African immigrant population in Harlem. He’ll appeal to millennials and seniors alike, he said, with a campaign centered on reducing unemployment and “an inclusive approach to gentrification” that helps the community. “The question is, ‘how can we embrace development?,’” he said, “We can’t always be fighting it.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“We need to forge a path of new leadership,” said candidate Donald Fields, a managing partner at Fields &amp; Associates, a consultancy, who previously worked for the city’s child welfare agency. Fields emphasized the need for new blood to replace the “old guard” that has dominated the Harlem political scene for years. Although Fields said he respects them and their work, he believes that younger leaders will be able to bring about faster change.</p> <p dir="ltr">Like Holland others, Fields is also undeterred by facing Perkins in the race. “It hasn’t slowed down my passion,” he said. “It hasn’t stopped my zeal to win or my focus on what the district needs.” His biggest priority is fighting gentrification while encouraging necessary development.</p> <p>“Whoever wins this race must have a vision for the district and must be committed to deliver that vision,” Fields said. “That cannot be tied to backroom politics and special interests.”</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Keith Wright Weighs Options Amid Uptown Power Shifts 2016-09-18T04:00:00+00:00 2016-09-18T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6534:keith-wright-weighs-options-amid-uptown-power-shifts Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/dickens_wright.jpg" alt="dickens wright" width="600" height="434" /></p> <p>Keith Wright and Inez Dickens (photo via Wright's Assembly <a href="http://nyassembly.gov/mem/Keith-L-T-Wright/photos/" target="_blank">page</a>)</p> <hr /> <p>Before Assemblymember Keith Wright had conceded to Sen. Adriano Espaillat in their congressional race, speculation had already begun about which seat Wright would seek next if not victorious. Wright eliminated one option when he pledged in the heat of the race to replace retiring Rep. Charles Rangel that he would not seek reelection to the Assembly seat he has held since 1992. Wright challenged Espaillat to do the same as the state senator had repeatedly run for Congress only to return to the state Senate. Espaillat ignored the challenge.</p> <p>On congressional primary day in June, Espaillat claimed a narrow victory, leaving Wright calling for a recount, but soon community leaders brought pressure on Wright to move on and accept defeat, which he did. No political observer believed the pledge would keep Wright, a close ally of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and one of the state&rsquo;s most powerful Democrats and most prolific fundraisers, from seeking public office again.</p> <p>Now that state legislative primaries are over, another Wright ally, City Council Member Inez Dickens, appears set to replace him in the Assembly. She ran unopposed among Democrats for Wright&rsquo;s seat, raising a few eyebrows given that seats being vacated often attract multiple candidates.</p> <p>While initial rumors focused on Wright running for the State Senate or Dickens&rsquo; City Council seat, The New York Post <a href="http://nypost.com/2016/09/13/democratic-assemblyman-keith-wright-weighing-mayoral-run/" target="_blank">recently reported</a> that Wright associate Charlie King is trying to gauge reaction and garner support for a Wright mayoral bid. Wright&rsquo;s office didn&rsquo;t do much to downplay the possibility of a challenge to fellow Democrat Bill de Blasio, who is poised to run for re-election in 2017.</p> <p>Although Wright wasn&rsquo;t made available for an interview, spokesperson Emma Forbes sent a statement to Gotham Gazette implicitly confirming his interest in the mayoralty.</p> <p>&ldquo;Keith's always been an advocate for all New Yorkers, and especially for Communities of Color,&rdquo; Forbes wrote. &ldquo;I think that when you look around today and see many shared concerns and challenges left unaddressed, it makes you consider the role you have in fixing things in government, be it appointed or elected, city or state, big or small."</p> <p>Dan Levitan, spokesperson for de Blasio&rsquo;s campaign, responded with the same statement he gave to The Post: &ldquo;Under Mayor de Blasio, Crime just hit another all-time low, jobs are at record highs, the City is building and preserving affordable housing at a record pace, while graduation rates and test scores continue to improve. We are happy to match that record against anyone.&rdquo;</p> <p>As chair of the Manhattan County Democrats, Wright wields significant power and influence, and many observers believe he could easily clear the Democratic field in a special election to replace Dickens in the City Council. And if he wasn&rsquo;t able to intimidate or convince all other potential candidates from running, Wright has access to the forces he would need to quickly raise money and marshall overwhelming turnout for the special election, which would likely take place in March. Wright has brought his power to bear on past elections; in <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150908/central-harlem/harlem-district-leader-insurgent-candidates-face-intimidation-threats" target="_blank">some cases</a> he has been <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5873-candidates-allege-wright-unfairly-influences-elections" target="_blank">accused of unfairly influencing certain contests</a>.</p> <p>While a mayoral run is probably less likely than a City Council one, the speculation does not end there. Wright is also touted as a possible replacement to Sen. Bill Perkins, who in such a scenario would run for and win Dickens&rsquo; Council seat, leaving his seat open for Wright. Perkins did not return calls for comment.</p> <p>Concerning speculation about Wright&rsquo;s legislative ambitions, Forbes said in a statement, "All options remain on the table, and the Assemblyman is carefully considering the best way to continue positively impacting the community that he loves."</p> <p>Council Member Dickens is on board if Wright decides to run to replace her. &ldquo;I will support him if he decides to run,&rdquo; Dickens told Gotham Gazette in an interview. &ldquo;I have not publically stated that, but I would be very interested in supporting him. He has done a phenomenal job in the Assembly.&rdquo;</p> <p>Dickens said that she knows Wright is weighing his options and that he has not made a decision yet. She told Gotham Gazette that she had no deal in place with Wright to clear the field for either of their seats or to swap positions. &ldquo;I did not in anyway have a deal with him other than to ask him if he was going to seek this seat and he said &ldquo;no,&rdquo; so I ran for it.&rdquo;</p> <p>Dickens noted that she will be term-limited out of the Council at the end of next year. She speculated that she faced no Democratic challengers for Wright&rsquo;s seat - which is centered in Harlem and represents almost exclusively Democrats - because of a number of factors, including the trips Assembly members must make to Albany, the last-minute nature of the opening, and what she said was insufficient pay for state legislators.</p> <p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re asking young people to go to college, get degrees, have bills they have to pay for it after they come out of school, have a family, have children that they have to take care of properly, and then tell them they have to live on $79,000 a year. The idea of free public service is over,&rdquo; Dickens told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>At this point in the process it appears there are a variety of contenders considering a run Dickens&rsquo; Council seat. As of July, four candidates had registered with the city Campaign Finance Board. One of those registered candidates, Charles Cooper, a businessman from Harlem, told Gotham Gazette that he expects a crowded field.</p> <p>&ldquo;This is a Democracy and I welcome everyone. I am going to focus on uniting the community,&rdquo; Cooper said. Asked if he was concerned about the prospect of Wright entering the race, Cooper said he respects Wright, but that it wouldn&rsquo;t impact his plans.</p> <p>Other registered candidates include Marvin Holland, an organizer for the Transportation Workers United union; Donald Fields, a businessman and advocate; and Shanette M. Gray. Fields is the only registered candidate to report any fundraising, but he&rsquo;d raised $165 as of July.</p> <p>A number of other names are being bandied about as potential candidates. They include Clyde Williams, who also ran to replace Rangel this Spring; Afua Atta-Mensah, a lawyer and former district leader candidate; and Sen. Perkins&rsquo; chief of staff Cordell Cleare.</p> <p>When Dickens officially wins the Assembly seat in November, she&rsquo;ll be set to replace Wright come January, and the machinations for a special City Council election will begin.</p> <p>Espaillat and his allies are paying close attention to Wright&rsquo;s moves as they hope to curtail any major challenges to his newly-won seat before they happen. Espaillat will be up for re-election in 2018.</p> <p>A number of Wright&rsquo;s allies insist he is still weighing whether to enter the private sector and spending time with his family, They say there is no bigger master plan at this point. To launch a campaign for any of the seats being mentioned, Wright would need to kick his fundraising apparatus into high gear quickly, although it would likely be far easier for him to raise the funds needed for a Council or state Senate run than a mayoral bid.</p> <p>Wright&rsquo;s Assembly campaign committee filed &ldquo;no activity&rdquo; statements with the state Board of Elections in January and July. Wright raised a total of $934,138 for his congressional bid, compared to Espaillat&rsquo;s $628,000. There is little doubt among political experts that Wright could secure the cash he needs to run a well-financed legislative campaign.</p> <p>&ldquo;I don't know really know what Keith&rsquo;s plans are at this point,&rdquo; Dickens told Gotham Gazette during the September 14 interview at City Hall. &ldquo;He had very difficult race, outraised all of his challengers, and it was a was fight to the finish. Keith worked very hard and it's difficult for any of us when you lose, so he's needed time to think and space to be with his family, who suffered a lot.&rdquo;</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/dickens_wright.jpg" alt="dickens wright" width="600" height="434" /></p> <p>Keith Wright and Inez Dickens (photo via Wright's Assembly <a href="http://nyassembly.gov/mem/Keith-L-T-Wright/photos/" target="_blank">page</a>)</p> <hr /> <p>Before Assemblymember Keith Wright had conceded to Sen. Adriano Espaillat in their congressional race, speculation had already begun about which seat Wright would seek next if not victorious. Wright eliminated one option when he pledged in the heat of the race to replace retiring Rep. Charles Rangel that he would not seek reelection to the Assembly seat he has held since 1992. Wright challenged Espaillat to do the same as the state senator had repeatedly run for Congress only to return to the state Senate. Espaillat ignored the challenge.</p> <p>On congressional primary day in June, Espaillat claimed a narrow victory, leaving Wright calling for a recount, but soon community leaders brought pressure on Wright to move on and accept defeat, which he did. No political observer believed the pledge would keep Wright, a close ally of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and one of the state&rsquo;s most powerful Democrats and most prolific fundraisers, from seeking public office again.</p> <p>Now that state legislative primaries are over, another Wright ally, City Council Member Inez Dickens, appears set to replace him in the Assembly. She ran unopposed among Democrats for Wright&rsquo;s seat, raising a few eyebrows given that seats being vacated often attract multiple candidates.</p> <p>While initial rumors focused on Wright running for the State Senate or Dickens&rsquo; City Council seat, The New York Post <a href="http://nypost.com/2016/09/13/democratic-assemblyman-keith-wright-weighing-mayoral-run/" target="_blank">recently reported</a> that Wright associate Charlie King is trying to gauge reaction and garner support for a Wright mayoral bid. Wright&rsquo;s office didn&rsquo;t do much to downplay the possibility of a challenge to fellow Democrat Bill de Blasio, who is poised to run for re-election in 2017.</p> <p>Although Wright wasn&rsquo;t made available for an interview, spokesperson Emma Forbes sent a statement to Gotham Gazette implicitly confirming his interest in the mayoralty.</p> <p>&ldquo;Keith's always been an advocate for all New Yorkers, and especially for Communities of Color,&rdquo; Forbes wrote. &ldquo;I think that when you look around today and see many shared concerns and challenges left unaddressed, it makes you consider the role you have in fixing things in government, be it appointed or elected, city or state, big or small."</p> <p>Dan Levitan, spokesperson for de Blasio&rsquo;s campaign, responded with the same statement he gave to The Post: &ldquo;Under Mayor de Blasio, Crime just hit another all-time low, jobs are at record highs, the City is building and preserving affordable housing at a record pace, while graduation rates and test scores continue to improve. We are happy to match that record against anyone.&rdquo;</p> <p>As chair of the Manhattan County Democrats, Wright wields significant power and influence, and many observers believe he could easily clear the Democratic field in a special election to replace Dickens in the City Council. And if he wasn&rsquo;t able to intimidate or convince all other potential candidates from running, Wright has access to the forces he would need to quickly raise money and marshall overwhelming turnout for the special election, which would likely take place in March. Wright has brought his power to bear on past elections; in <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150908/central-harlem/harlem-district-leader-insurgent-candidates-face-intimidation-threats" target="_blank">some cases</a> he has been <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5873-candidates-allege-wright-unfairly-influences-elections" target="_blank">accused of unfairly influencing certain contests</a>.</p> <p>While a mayoral run is probably less likely than a City Council one, the speculation does not end there. Wright is also touted as a possible replacement to Sen. Bill Perkins, who in such a scenario would run for and win Dickens&rsquo; Council seat, leaving his seat open for Wright. Perkins did not return calls for comment.</p> <p>Concerning speculation about Wright&rsquo;s legislative ambitions, Forbes said in a statement, "All options remain on the table, and the Assemblyman is carefully considering the best way to continue positively impacting the community that he loves."</p> <p>Council Member Dickens is on board if Wright decides to run to replace her. &ldquo;I will support him if he decides to run,&rdquo; Dickens told Gotham Gazette in an interview. &ldquo;I have not publically stated that, but I would be very interested in supporting him. He has done a phenomenal job in the Assembly.&rdquo;</p> <p>Dickens said that she knows Wright is weighing his options and that he has not made a decision yet. She told Gotham Gazette that she had no deal in place with Wright to clear the field for either of their seats or to swap positions. &ldquo;I did not in anyway have a deal with him other than to ask him if he was going to seek this seat and he said &ldquo;no,&rdquo; so I ran for it.&rdquo;</p> <p>Dickens noted that she will be term-limited out of the Council at the end of next year. She speculated that she faced no Democratic challengers for Wright&rsquo;s seat - which is centered in Harlem and represents almost exclusively Democrats - because of a number of factors, including the trips Assembly members must make to Albany, the last-minute nature of the opening, and what she said was insufficient pay for state legislators.</p> <p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re asking young people to go to college, get degrees, have bills they have to pay for it after they come out of school, have a family, have children that they have to take care of properly, and then tell them they have to live on $79,000 a year. The idea of free public service is over,&rdquo; Dickens told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>At this point in the process it appears there are a variety of contenders considering a run Dickens&rsquo; Council seat. As of July, four candidates had registered with the city Campaign Finance Board. One of those registered candidates, Charles Cooper, a businessman from Harlem, told Gotham Gazette that he expects a crowded field.</p> <p>&ldquo;This is a Democracy and I welcome everyone. I am going to focus on uniting the community,&rdquo; Cooper said. Asked if he was concerned about the prospect of Wright entering the race, Cooper said he respects Wright, but that it wouldn&rsquo;t impact his plans.</p> <p>Other registered candidates include Marvin Holland, an organizer for the Transportation Workers United union; Donald Fields, a businessman and advocate; and Shanette M. Gray. Fields is the only registered candidate to report any fundraising, but he&rsquo;d raised $165 as of July.</p> <p>A number of other names are being bandied about as potential candidates. They include Clyde Williams, who also ran to replace Rangel this Spring; Afua Atta-Mensah, a lawyer and former district leader candidate; and Sen. Perkins&rsquo; chief of staff Cordell Cleare.</p> <p>When Dickens officially wins the Assembly seat in November, she&rsquo;ll be set to replace Wright come January, and the machinations for a special City Council election will begin.</p> <p>Espaillat and his allies are paying close attention to Wright&rsquo;s moves as they hope to curtail any major challenges to his newly-won seat before they happen. Espaillat will be up for re-election in 2018.</p> <p>A number of Wright&rsquo;s allies insist he is still weighing whether to enter the private sector and spending time with his family, They say there is no bigger master plan at this point. To launch a campaign for any of the seats being mentioned, Wright would need to kick his fundraising apparatus into high gear quickly, although it would likely be far easier for him to raise the funds needed for a Council or state Senate run than a mayoral bid.</p> <p>Wright&rsquo;s Assembly campaign committee filed &ldquo;no activity&rdquo; statements with the state Board of Elections in January and July. Wright raised a total of $934,138 for his congressional bid, compared to Espaillat&rsquo;s $628,000. There is little doubt among political experts that Wright could secure the cash he needs to run a well-financed legislative campaign.</p> <p>&ldquo;I don't know really know what Keith&rsquo;s plans are at this point,&rdquo; Dickens told Gotham Gazette during the September 14 interview at City Hall. &ldquo;He had very difficult race, outraised all of his challengers, and it was a was fight to the finish. Keith worked very hard and it's difficult for any of us when you lose, so he's needed time to think and space to be with his family, who suffered a lot.&rdquo;</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Rangel’s Replacement Decided, Other Uptown Races Take Shape 2016-06-30T04:00:00+00:00 2016-06-30T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6423:with-rangel-s-replacement-decided-other-uptown-races-take-shape Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/espaillat_wright_presser_june_30_2016.jpg" alt="espaillat wright presser june 30 2016" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p>Espaillat &amp; co at unity press conference (photo via @EspaillatNY)</p> <hr /> <p>After 46 years and 23 terms, voters in the 13th Congressional District in Harlem have chosen someone other than Rep. Charles Rangel to represent them. The retiring 86-year-old, a legendary figure in Harlem&rsquo;s political scene, appeared to want to extend his legacy by keeping the seat he had held for decades in the hands of an experienced politician of his choosing, but changing community demographics, a 2012 redistricting, and a crowded 2016 Democratic primary field seem to have thwarted his efforts.</p> <p>State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who lost to Rangel in the 2012 and 2014 Democratic primaries, appears to have edged out a 1,200-vote win over his closest challenger and Rangel&rsquo;s prefered successor, Assemblymember Keith Wright. After initially refusing to concede, calling for every vote to be counted, and demanding a federal investigation into voter suppression, Wright declared Espaillat the winner on Thursday. Rangel, Espaillat, and Wright held a unity meeting and press conference, with Espaillat saying he expected to have Rangel as a mentor.</p> <p>Espaillat would be the first Dominican and the first formerly undocumented member of Congress. His win gives a boon to Hispanic political power, in New York City and elsewhere, while also showing a decline the strength of black political power in Harlem and nearby. In this heavily Democratic district, the winner of the party primary is a lock to win the November general.</p> <p>The outcome has other implications, too, especially around the state Legislature, with a game of musical chairs appearing to commence.</p> <p>While every vote in the NY-13 race is indeed counted, Espaillat&rsquo;s apparent congressional victory lends clarity to the race for his state Senate seat and raises questions about Wright&rsquo;s political future.</p> <p>Wright, who chairs the powerful Assembly housing committee, pledged in early June not to seek reelection to his Assembly seat should he lose and challenged Espaillat to promise not to run for his Senate seat should his bid fall short. Espaillat&rsquo;s camp dismissed the pledge as &ldquo;desperate.&rdquo; State legislative primaries are in September.</p> <p>Contenders have lined up for both seats. Micah Lasher, a former chief of staff to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, launched a campaign last month with the caveat that he would drop out if Espaillat lost his congressional bid and sought reelection to the Senate. With Espaillat&rsquo;s victory Lasher now seems locked in for a primary battle against former City Council Member Robert Jackson, who challenged Espaillat in 2014. Jackson endorsed Wright in the congressional primary and attended Thursday&rsquo;s press conference.</p> <p>So far that race has featured Jackson <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/micah-lasher-hit-ties-pro-charter-group-blog-entry-1.2613159" target="_blank">attacking Lasher</a> for his previous work for education reform group StudentsFirstNY, a pro-charter school group that has campaigned against Senate Democrats. Lasher&rsquo;s camp has in turn pointed out that Lasher has personally supported Democratic candidates. Lasher has been consolidating support among many elected Democrats, though the race will gain even more clarity now that Espaillat's future is clear.</p> <p>Less clear is the future of Wright&rsquo;s Assembly seat. Wright endorsed City Council Member Inez Dickens to replace him (she was also at Thursday&rsquo;s press conference), but with his loss many Harlem insiders wonder if Wright could renege on his promise. Wright may decide, though, to run for the Council seat Dickens is said to be leaving. There is plenty of chatter about Wright positioning himself to challenge Espaillat in two years, especially if he can work to ensure that there are fewer other black candidates in the running.</p> <p>On Wednesday, Wright&rsquo;s campaign invited reporters to an event featuring Wright and Rev. Al Sharpton, who had held a fiery rally condemning Wright&rsquo;s opponents last weekend. Wright didn&rsquo;t appear at the event and Sharpton struck a conciliatory tone, asking the district to come together to support Espaillat - which is what happened on Thursday.</p> <p>&ldquo;We need to have a climate of coming together, and not of acrimony and rancor that pits communities against communities inside the district,&rdquo; Sharpton told reporters. Espaillat&rsquo;s statement on Wednesday echoed Sharpton&rsquo;s pleas for unity. &ldquo;To those who voted for one of my worthy opponents - I pledge to work my heart out to represent you, knowing that our district is not a Latino or black or Asian district. It's a district that belongs to all of us, and we simply cannot succeed unless all of us are moving forward together," Espaillat said.</p> <p><a href="http://observer.com/2016/06/after-weekend-race-rant-al-sharpton-wants-coming-together-in-rangels-district/" target="_blank">According to The Observer</a>, Charlie King, Wright&rsquo;s top advisor, who did attend the event on Wednesday, appeared to dismiss the possibility of Wright positioning himself for a future congressional run. &ldquo;I either see him in Congress, or I see him hanging out with me in the private sector, having fun and going to the beach,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I would anticipate that whoever wins this race will likely hold the seat for years to come.&rdquo;</p> <p>What Wright does about his Assembly seat is the next shoe to drop as the Lasher-Jackson Senate race heats up. Dickens was an active supporter of Wright&rsquo;s congressional campaign and appears keen to move to the Assembly. She will be term-limited out of the Council at the end of 2017. There are no term limits for state legislators, Wright has served in the Assembly since 1992. Neither Wright&rsquo;s nor Dickens&rsquo; representatives responded to requests for comment for this story.</p> <p>The practice of trading City Council and state legislative seats is fairly common and easily achievable due to the facts that almost all races in New York City are decided during the Democratic primary and city and state elections do not occur in the same years. Current Council Member Inez Barron ran for her husband Charles Barron&rsquo;s Council seat after he was term-limited out of office - he then successfully ran for her Assembly seat the following year.</p> <p>The practice has an extremely high success rate because the Democratic County Committees have major sway in who runs and gets political and financial backing. Wright is the head of the Manhattan Democrats and would likely be able to maneuver himself into an easily winnable race should he choose to do so.</p> <p>If he does indeed decline to seek re-election, his replacement will be chosen in September&rsquo;s primary (agian, by virtue of the fact that there is virtually no Republican presence in Upper Manhattan). If Dickens were to win the seat, she would leave the Council and Wright could then run in the special election to replace her.</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/espaillat_wright_presser_june_30_2016.jpg" alt="espaillat wright presser june 30 2016" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p>Espaillat &amp; co at unity press conference (photo via @EspaillatNY)</p> <hr /> <p>After 46 years and 23 terms, voters in the 13th Congressional District in Harlem have chosen someone other than Rep. Charles Rangel to represent them. The retiring 86-year-old, a legendary figure in Harlem&rsquo;s political scene, appeared to want to extend his legacy by keeping the seat he had held for decades in the hands of an experienced politician of his choosing, but changing community demographics, a 2012 redistricting, and a crowded 2016 Democratic primary field seem to have thwarted his efforts.</p> <p>State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who lost to Rangel in the 2012 and 2014 Democratic primaries, appears to have edged out a 1,200-vote win over his closest challenger and Rangel&rsquo;s prefered successor, Assemblymember Keith Wright. After initially refusing to concede, calling for every vote to be counted, and demanding a federal investigation into voter suppression, Wright declared Espaillat the winner on Thursday. Rangel, Espaillat, and Wright held a unity meeting and press conference, with Espaillat saying he expected to have Rangel as a mentor.</p> <p>Espaillat would be the first Dominican and the first formerly undocumented member of Congress. His win gives a boon to Hispanic political power, in New York City and elsewhere, while also showing a decline the strength of black political power in Harlem and nearby. In this heavily Democratic district, the winner of the party primary is a lock to win the November general.</p> <p>The outcome has other implications, too, especially around the state Legislature, with a game of musical chairs appearing to commence.</p> <p>While every vote in the NY-13 race is indeed counted, Espaillat&rsquo;s apparent congressional victory lends clarity to the race for his state Senate seat and raises questions about Wright&rsquo;s political future.</p> <p>Wright, who chairs the powerful Assembly housing committee, pledged in early June not to seek reelection to his Assembly seat should he lose and challenged Espaillat to promise not to run for his Senate seat should his bid fall short. Espaillat&rsquo;s camp dismissed the pledge as &ldquo;desperate.&rdquo; State legislative primaries are in September.</p> <p>Contenders have lined up for both seats. Micah Lasher, a former chief of staff to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, launched a campaign last month with the caveat that he would drop out if Espaillat lost his congressional bid and sought reelection to the Senate. With Espaillat&rsquo;s victory Lasher now seems locked in for a primary battle against former City Council Member Robert Jackson, who challenged Espaillat in 2014. Jackson endorsed Wright in the congressional primary and attended Thursday&rsquo;s press conference.</p> <p>So far that race has featured Jackson <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/micah-lasher-hit-ties-pro-charter-group-blog-entry-1.2613159" target="_blank">attacking Lasher</a> for his previous work for education reform group StudentsFirstNY, a pro-charter school group that has campaigned against Senate Democrats. Lasher&rsquo;s camp has in turn pointed out that Lasher has personally supported Democratic candidates. Lasher has been consolidating support among many elected Democrats, though the race will gain even more clarity now that Espaillat's future is clear.</p> <p>Less clear is the future of Wright&rsquo;s Assembly seat. Wright endorsed City Council Member Inez Dickens to replace him (she was also at Thursday&rsquo;s press conference), but with his loss many Harlem insiders wonder if Wright could renege on his promise. Wright may decide, though, to run for the Council seat Dickens is said to be leaving. There is plenty of chatter about Wright positioning himself to challenge Espaillat in two years, especially if he can work to ensure that there are fewer other black candidates in the running.</p> <p>On Wednesday, Wright&rsquo;s campaign invited reporters to an event featuring Wright and Rev. Al Sharpton, who had held a fiery rally condemning Wright&rsquo;s opponents last weekend. Wright didn&rsquo;t appear at the event and Sharpton struck a conciliatory tone, asking the district to come together to support Espaillat - which is what happened on Thursday.</p> <p>&ldquo;We need to have a climate of coming together, and not of acrimony and rancor that pits communities against communities inside the district,&rdquo; Sharpton told reporters. Espaillat&rsquo;s statement on Wednesday echoed Sharpton&rsquo;s pleas for unity. &ldquo;To those who voted for one of my worthy opponents - I pledge to work my heart out to represent you, knowing that our district is not a Latino or black or Asian district. It's a district that belongs to all of us, and we simply cannot succeed unless all of us are moving forward together," Espaillat said.</p> <p><a href="http://observer.com/2016/06/after-weekend-race-rant-al-sharpton-wants-coming-together-in-rangels-district/" target="_blank">According to The Observer</a>, Charlie King, Wright&rsquo;s top advisor, who did attend the event on Wednesday, appeared to dismiss the possibility of Wright positioning himself for a future congressional run. &ldquo;I either see him in Congress, or I see him hanging out with me in the private sector, having fun and going to the beach,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I would anticipate that whoever wins this race will likely hold the seat for years to come.&rdquo;</p> <p>What Wright does about his Assembly seat is the next shoe to drop as the Lasher-Jackson Senate race heats up. Dickens was an active supporter of Wright&rsquo;s congressional campaign and appears keen to move to the Assembly. She will be term-limited out of the Council at the end of 2017. There are no term limits for state legislators, Wright has served in the Assembly since 1992. Neither Wright&rsquo;s nor Dickens&rsquo; representatives responded to requests for comment for this story.</p> <p>The practice of trading City Council and state legislative seats is fairly common and easily achievable due to the facts that almost all races in New York City are decided during the Democratic primary and city and state elections do not occur in the same years. Current Council Member Inez Barron ran for her husband Charles Barron&rsquo;s Council seat after he was term-limited out of office - he then successfully ran for her Assembly seat the following year.</p> <p>The practice has an extremely high success rate because the Democratic County Committees have major sway in who runs and gets political and financial backing. Wright is the head of the Manhattan Democrats and would likely be able to maneuver himself into an easily winnable race should he choose to do so.</p> <p>If he does indeed decline to seek re-election, his replacement will be chosen in September&rsquo;s primary (agian, by virtue of the fact that there is virtually no Republican presence in Upper Manhattan). If Dickens were to win the seat, she would leave the Council and Wright could then run in the special election to replace her.</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
New York Congressional Primary Results; Espaillat, Teachout Among Winners 2016-06-28T04:00:00+00:00 2016-06-28T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6420:new-york-congressional-primary-results-espaillat-teachout-among-winners Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/Espaillat_presser.jpg" alt="Espaillat presser" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p>Adriano Espaillat (photo: @EspaillatNY)</p> <hr /> <p>New York voters chose congressional candidates in 13 primaries across the state on Tuesday, with seven of those contests taking place within New York City&mdash;all of which were Democratic. New York has 27 seats in the House of Representatives.</p> <p>While the current New York City congressional delegation consists of 11 Democrats and one Republican, a makeup that is unlikely to change this year, results from key primaries in three swing districts outside the city have set the stage for races that could factor into which party controls the House after November&rsquo;s elections.</p> <p>In the most-watched and only competitive primary in New York City, nine candidates contended to be the Democratic nominee for New York&rsquo;s 13th Congressional District, where longtime incumbent Charlie Rangel announced he will step down after 46 years in office. The district includes much of Upper Manhattan and some of the South Bronx. Because the district is overwhelmingly Democratic, the primary winner is a lock to become the next district representative in Congress.</p> <p>State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who lost primary challenges to Rangel in 2012 and 2014, declared victory in NY-13, barely defeating Assemblymember Keith Wright. While Wright did not immediately concede, asserting that every vote must be counted and that efforts to suppress the vote of African-Americans must be investigated, <a href="https://twitter.com/InsideCityHall/status/747995597248958465" target="_blank">NY1 projected</a> Espaillat the winner just after 11 p.m., at which point 98% of precincts had reported their ballots and Espaillat held a lead of about 1,270 votes. <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/election-results-2016-new-york-federal-primary/" target="_blank">The NY-13 vote</a> was relatively high among expectedly low turnout affairs across the city and state, with about 43,000 votes cast -- Espaillat received about 15,700 (37%); Wright about 14,400 (34%).</p> <p>Clyde Williams (11%) finished a somewhat distant third, followed by Adam Clayton Powell IV (6%), Guillermo Linares (5.5%), Suzan Johnson-Cook (5%), Michael Gallagher, Sam Sloan, and Yohanny Caceres.</p> <p>Most New York City congressional primaries were marked by victories for incumbent candidates. Democrats Gregory Meeks of Queens; Nydia Velazquez of Brooklyn; Jerrod Nadler and Carolyn Maloney of Manhattan; and Jose Serrano of the Bronx kept their seats by wide margins in contested primaries. All are expected to win general election races in November, along with other Democrats, like Grace Meng and Hakeem Jeffries, who did not have primary challenges, and Republican Rep. Daniel Donovan, who was unopposed in the primary.</p> <p>A key primary outside the city was the 19th Congressional District in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills, where current Republican Rep. Chris Gibson has announced he will retire this year. Zephyr Teachout defeated Will Yandik to clinch the Democratic nomination there, while John Faso won the Republican nomination over Andrew Heaney. Teachout and Faso are preparing for what could be a very competitive general election that may garner national attention and resources from the two major party apparatuses.</p> <p>Democratic Rep. Steve Israel, who represents the state&rsquo;s 3rd Congressional District on Long Island, will also retire at the end of this term. In the primaries, Thomas Suozzi defeated Jon Kaiman, Steve Stern, Jonathan Clarke, and Anna Kaplan to become the Democratic nominee. Suozzi will face Republican candidate Jack Martins in the general election.</p> <p>Republican Rep. Richard Hanna of the 22nd Congressional District in Utica has also announced he will step down this year after three terms in office. In the district&rsquo;s Republican primary, Claudia Tenney defeated George Philips and Steven Wells to become the nominee, and will run against Democratic candidate Kim Meyers in November.</p> <p>As the November general election approaches, candidates on both sides of the aisle will be looking up the ticket at presidential nominees. The two major parties both have presumptive nominees from New York, Hillary Clinton for the Democrats and Donald Trump for the Republicans. The official nominating conventions are in July.</p> <p>Come November, there will be one New York Senate race on the ballot, with incumbent Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat from Brooklyn, facing Republican challenger Wendy Long. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat who defeated Long in 2012, is not up for reelection this year.</p> <p>The general election will take place November 8. Before the November election, New Yorkers will have a third primary election day, with state Assembly and Senate primaries on September 13. Few New York City-based races are expected to be competitive, but if Espaillat is indeed the winner in NY-13, his state Senate seat will be open and there are at least two Democrats, Micah Lasher and Robert Jackson, already in the running.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[<a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/election-results-2016-new-york-federal-primary/" target="_blank">See the details of New York primary voting results via WNYC here</a>]</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Aaron Holmes contributed reporting.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/Espaillat_presser.jpg" alt="Espaillat presser" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p>Adriano Espaillat (photo: @EspaillatNY)</p> <hr /> <p>New York voters chose congressional candidates in 13 primaries across the state on Tuesday, with seven of those contests taking place within New York City&mdash;all of which were Democratic. New York has 27 seats in the House of Representatives.</p> <p>While the current New York City congressional delegation consists of 11 Democrats and one Republican, a makeup that is unlikely to change this year, results from key primaries in three swing districts outside the city have set the stage for races that could factor into which party controls the House after November&rsquo;s elections.</p> <p>In the most-watched and only competitive primary in New York City, nine candidates contended to be the Democratic nominee for New York&rsquo;s 13th Congressional District, where longtime incumbent Charlie Rangel announced he will step down after 46 years in office. The district includes much of Upper Manhattan and some of the South Bronx. Because the district is overwhelmingly Democratic, the primary winner is a lock to become the next district representative in Congress.</p> <p>State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who lost primary challenges to Rangel in 2012 and 2014, declared victory in NY-13, barely defeating Assemblymember Keith Wright. While Wright did not immediately concede, asserting that every vote must be counted and that efforts to suppress the vote of African-Americans must be investigated, <a href="https://twitter.com/InsideCityHall/status/747995597248958465" target="_blank">NY1 projected</a> Espaillat the winner just after 11 p.m., at which point 98% of precincts had reported their ballots and Espaillat held a lead of about 1,270 votes. <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/election-results-2016-new-york-federal-primary/" target="_blank">The NY-13 vote</a> was relatively high among expectedly low turnout affairs across the city and state, with about 43,000 votes cast -- Espaillat received about 15,700 (37%); Wright about 14,400 (34%).</p> <p>Clyde Williams (11%) finished a somewhat distant third, followed by Adam Clayton Powell IV (6%), Guillermo Linares (5.5%), Suzan Johnson-Cook (5%), Michael Gallagher, Sam Sloan, and Yohanny Caceres.</p> <p>Most New York City congressional primaries were marked by victories for incumbent candidates. Democrats Gregory Meeks of Queens; Nydia Velazquez of Brooklyn; Jerrod Nadler and Carolyn Maloney of Manhattan; and Jose Serrano of the Bronx kept their seats by wide margins in contested primaries. All are expected to win general election races in November, along with other Democrats, like Grace Meng and Hakeem Jeffries, who did not have primary challenges, and Republican Rep. Daniel Donovan, who was unopposed in the primary.</p> <p>A key primary outside the city was the 19th Congressional District in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills, where current Republican Rep. Chris Gibson has announced he will retire this year. Zephyr Teachout defeated Will Yandik to clinch the Democratic nomination there, while John Faso won the Republican nomination over Andrew Heaney. Teachout and Faso are preparing for what could be a very competitive general election that may garner national attention and resources from the two major party apparatuses.</p> <p>Democratic Rep. Steve Israel, who represents the state&rsquo;s 3rd Congressional District on Long Island, will also retire at the end of this term. In the primaries, Thomas Suozzi defeated Jon Kaiman, Steve Stern, Jonathan Clarke, and Anna Kaplan to become the Democratic nominee. Suozzi will face Republican candidate Jack Martins in the general election.</p> <p>Republican Rep. Richard Hanna of the 22nd Congressional District in Utica has also announced he will step down this year after three terms in office. In the district&rsquo;s Republican primary, Claudia Tenney defeated George Philips and Steven Wells to become the nominee, and will run against Democratic candidate Kim Meyers in November.</p> <p>As the November general election approaches, candidates on both sides of the aisle will be looking up the ticket at presidential nominees. The two major parties both have presumptive nominees from New York, Hillary Clinton for the Democrats and Donald Trump for the Republicans. The official nominating conventions are in July.</p> <p>Come November, there will be one New York Senate race on the ballot, with incumbent Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat from Brooklyn, facing Republican challenger Wendy Long. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat who defeated Long in 2012, is not up for reelection this year.</p> <p>The general election will take place November 8. Before the November election, New Yorkers will have a third primary election day, with state Assembly and Senate primaries on September 13. Few New York City-based races are expected to be competitive, but if Espaillat is indeed the winner in NY-13, his state Senate seat will be open and there are at least two Democrats, Micah Lasher and Robert Jackson, already in the running.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[<a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/election-results-2016-new-york-federal-primary/" target="_blank">See the details of New York primary voting results via WNYC here</a>]</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Aaron Holmes contributed reporting.</p>
New Yorkers Vote in Congressional Primaries June 28 2016-06-06T04:00:00+00:00 2016-06-06T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6380:new-yorkers-vote-in-congressional-primaries-june-28 Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/14245896804_8e874fd358_z.jpg" alt="rangel voting congress new york" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Rep. Charles Rangel is retiring (photo via Rep. Rangel on Flickr)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">While many voters and most media are focused on the race for President, this year will also see all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 34 of the 100 U.S. Senate seats on the ballot. New York’s 27 seats in the House and one of its two Senate seats - the one held by Senator Charles Schumer - &nbsp;will be voted on during June 28 primaries and the November 8 general election.</p> <p dir="ltr">In an odd - some say counterproductive and undemocratic - twist, New York is holding four election days this year. Many New Yorkers have already had the chance to vote in one election this year—the April 19 presidential primaries—and, in the fall, will have the opportunity to vote in September state Senate and state Assembly primary elections before the general election with all of the aforementioned offices on the ballot.</p> <p dir="ltr">Ahead of the June 28 congressional primaries, things are largely quiet in New York City’s 13 districts, though a few incumbents are being challenged and there is one particularly prominent primary - that to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel. Rangel is one of three congressional incumbents across the state not seeking reelection this year.</p> <p dir="ltr">Twelve of New York City’s 13 districts are currently represented by Democrats, with the exception of District 11, which includes Staten Island and part of Brooklyn and is represented by Rep. Daniel Donovan, who is not facing a primary challenge.</p> <p dir="ltr">Rangel represents New York’s thirteenth congressional district, which includes upper Manhattan and a small part of the Bronx. Rangel has served the area since 1971. His decision to retire has prompted a crowded field eager to fill the rare empty seat. That crowd includes state Senator Adriano Espaillat, who challenged Rangel in both 2012 and 2014. Rangel has endorsed Assembly Member Keith Wright as his chosen successor.</p> <p dir="ltr">Christine Greer, a political science professor at Fordham University, says that Rangel’s endorsement is a boon to Wright’ campaign. “Having Charlie Rangel’s endorsement is important because Charlie Rangel’s people, who support [Wright], know they have to vote in June, not just in November,” Greer told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p dir="ltr">Greer says that the June congressional primary is often forgotten, especially since New Yorkers will be asked to go to the polls three other times this year. With a bevy of other Democratic candidates in the running, Rangel’s endorsement could indeed be a difference-maker. It is a virtual certainty that the Democratic primary winner will win the general election in November and be seated in Congress come January.</p> <p dir="ltr">Along with Wright and Espaillat, other Democratic primary candidates <a href="http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2016/04/rangel-endorses-wright-knocks-espaillat-and-other-rivals-101234" target="_blank">in NY13</a> are Assembly Member Guillermo Linares, Adam Clayton Powell IV, Clyde Williams, Suzan Johnson Cook, and Michael Gallagher.</p> <p dir="ltr">In New York City, several Democratic congressional incumbents will face primary challengers, though they are expected to win reelection easily:</p> <p dir="ltr">In District 5, which is located largely in Queens, incumbent Rep. Gregory Meeks will face Ali Mirza, a businessman and advocate for immigrants, according to his campaign <a href="http://www.mirzaforcongress.com/about.html" target="_blank">website</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">In District 7, &nbsp;which is mostly located in Brooklyn, incumbent Rep. Nydia Valázquez will face two Democratic challengers: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.jeffkurzon.com/">Jeff Kurzon</a> and Yungman Lee. Kurzon, an attorney, challenged Valázquez in 2014, but lost to the 24 year-incumbent. Lee is a community banker, who has worked as an attorney and a bank regulator, according to his campaign <a href="http://yungmanleeforcongress.com/meet-yungman-lee/" target="_blank">website</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">In District 10, mostly in Manhattan, incumbent Rep. Jerrold Nadler will take on his first Democratic primary challenger in 20 years - Oliver Rosenberg. Rosenberg is a businessman, a banker, and advocate for the LGBTQ Jewish community, according to his campaign <a href="http://oliverrosenberg.com/meet-oliver/" target="_blank">website</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">In District 12, which includes parts of Manhattan and Queens, incumbent Rep. Carolyn Maloney is being challenged by Pete Lindner, who, according to his campaign <a href="http://4petesakenyc.nationbuilder.com/" target="_blank">website</a>, is a statistical analyst and advocate for the national legalization of marijuana.</p> <p dir="ltr">In District 15, in the Bronx, José Serrano, the incumbent, has served the district for 26 years. Democratic challenger Leonel Baez will also be on the ballot; however, it does not seem that Baez has made a strong effort to campaign (his&nbsp;official campaign <a href="http://www.baez2016.com/" target="_blank">website</a> is limited).</p> <p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, several city-based races appear that they will see incumbents unopposed in the primary. This will also be the case outside New York City. However, there will also be a number of contested races leading to November’s Election Day, especially in places considered swing districts, where Republicans and Democrats have recently held the same seat or where party registration numbers are closer than they are in many heavily-Democratic New York City districts.</p> <p dir="ltr">Within the bounds of New York City, only one congressional seat appears open to party oscillation - the eleventh congressional district, which includes Staten Island and part of Southern Brooklyn. That congressional seat is currently held by Daniel Donovan, a Republican, who succeeded his predecessor Michael Grimm in a 2015 special election called after Grimm pleaded guilty to tax fraud. Even while facing charges in 2014, Grimm had kept his seat in a reelection bid.</p> <p dir="ltr">Donovan, formerly the Staten Island District Attorney, is heavily favored to keep the seat, though Richard Reichard, the Democratic challenger, and his supporters are looking to see how a likely Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump presidential matchup could help lift down-ballot Democrats. &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">David Birdsell, a professor and dean at Baruch College, doubts that the race will be competitive.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This seat has seen a&nbsp;good deal of turnover in recent years, owing to redistricting and to incumbents’ personal and legal troubles. Donovan won the special election handily against a Democrat and a Green Party candidate; he’s drawing the same mix in the fall,” said Birdsell.</p> <p dir="ltr">Despite believing that there won’t be much of a district 11 contest in November, Birdsell concedes that Trump’s candidacy could potentially boost Democratic voter turnout. &nbsp;“[Trump’s candidacy] could help Reichard in the eleventh, irrespective of what Republican voters think of Donovan’s willingness to campaign on Trump’s behalf. There isn’t compelling evidence as yet that Trump has expanded GOP appeal, but he could yet deliver on the promise of lots of independent votes, and that could make a major difference in the other direction. Probably not enough so to make a difference in any city races with the possible exception of the eleventh.”</p> <p dir="ltr">While New Yorkers will vote for their congressional representatives in the House and for President come November, there will also be one New York Senate seat on the ballot as well as all 213 seats of the state Legislature. Incumbent Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer will be running for reelection against Republican candidate Wendy Long and Libertarian candidate Alex Merced. If Schumer wins, he would enter his fourth six-year term serving as a senator.</p> <p dir="ltr">As of now, New York’s two Senators are Democrats, as are 18 of its 27 congressional representatives. However, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House are both controlled by Republicans. November’s elections will determine control of both houses, as well as the presidency.</p> <p dir="ltr">Within New York, Democrats hold an overwhelming majority in the state Assembly, with more than 100 of the Assembly’s 150 seats. The state Senate has a much more complicated picture, with its 63 seats split in somewhat strange fashion and control of the chamber on the line in November. Republicans currently hold 31 seats, not quite a majority, but one Democrat, Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, continues to caucus with them. There are also five members of the Independent Democratic Conference, which has a governing coalition with Republicans through this year. Democrats recently flipped one seat in a special election, that for the Long Island seat vacated by former Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who was convicted on federal corruption charges.</p> <p dir="ltr">In terms of party control of government and the policy ramifications thereof, there is a great deal at stake for New York and the country come November 8.</p> <p dir="ltr">For the upcoming New York congressional primaries June 28, only voters registered with a party can vote - voters can check their registration <a href="https://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/" target="_blank">through the state Board of Elections</a>. New voters had to register several weeks ago to be eligible for this vote, while anyone changing party registration had to do so more than a year ago.</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />by Rebecca Oh, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/14245896804_8e874fd358_z.jpg" alt="rangel voting congress new york" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Rep. Charles Rangel is retiring (photo via Rep. Rangel on Flickr)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">While many voters and most media are focused on the race for President, this year will also see all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 34 of the 100 U.S. Senate seats on the ballot. New York’s 27 seats in the House and one of its two Senate seats - the one held by Senator Charles Schumer - &nbsp;will be voted on during June 28 primaries and the November 8 general election.</p> <p dir="ltr">In an odd - some say counterproductive and undemocratic - twist, New York is holding four election days this year. Many New Yorkers have already had the chance to vote in one election this year—the April 19 presidential primaries—and, in the fall, will have the opportunity to vote in September state Senate and state Assembly primary elections before the general election with all of the aforementioned offices on the ballot.</p> <p dir="ltr">Ahead of the June 28 congressional primaries, things are largely quiet in New York City’s 13 districts, though a few incumbents are being challenged and there is one particularly prominent primary - that to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel. Rangel is one of three congressional incumbents across the state not seeking reelection this year.</p> <p dir="ltr">Twelve of New York City’s 13 districts are currently represented by Democrats, with the exception of District 11, which includes Staten Island and part of Brooklyn and is represented by Rep. Daniel Donovan, who is not facing a primary challenge.</p> <p dir="ltr">Rangel represents New York’s thirteenth congressional district, which includes upper Manhattan and a small part of the Bronx. Rangel has served the area since 1971. His decision to retire has prompted a crowded field eager to fill the rare empty seat. That crowd includes state Senator Adriano Espaillat, who challenged Rangel in both 2012 and 2014. Rangel has endorsed Assembly Member Keith Wright as his chosen successor.</p> <p dir="ltr">Christine Greer, a political science professor at Fordham University, says that Rangel’s endorsement is a boon to Wright’ campaign. “Having Charlie Rangel’s endorsement is important because Charlie Rangel’s people, who support [Wright], know they have to vote in June, not just in November,” Greer told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p dir="ltr">Greer says that the June congressional primary is often forgotten, especially since New Yorkers will be asked to go to the polls three other times this year. With a bevy of other Democratic candidates in the running, Rangel’s endorsement could indeed be a difference-maker. It is a virtual certainty that the Democratic primary winner will win the general election in November and be seated in Congress come January.</p> <p dir="ltr">Along with Wright and Espaillat, other Democratic primary candidates <a href="http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2016/04/rangel-endorses-wright-knocks-espaillat-and-other-rivals-101234" target="_blank">in NY13</a> are Assembly Member Guillermo Linares, Adam Clayton Powell IV, Clyde Williams, Suzan Johnson Cook, and Michael Gallagher.</p> <p dir="ltr">In New York City, several Democratic congressional incumbents will face primary challengers, though they are expected to win reelection easily:</p> <p dir="ltr">In District 5, which is located largely in Queens, incumbent Rep. Gregory Meeks will face Ali Mirza, a businessman and advocate for immigrants, according to his campaign <a href="http://www.mirzaforcongress.com/about.html" target="_blank">website</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">In District 7, &nbsp;which is mostly located in Brooklyn, incumbent Rep. Nydia Valázquez will face two Democratic challengers: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.jeffkurzon.com/">Jeff Kurzon</a> and Yungman Lee. Kurzon, an attorney, challenged Valázquez in 2014, but lost to the 24 year-incumbent. Lee is a community banker, who has worked as an attorney and a bank regulator, according to his campaign <a href="http://yungmanleeforcongress.com/meet-yungman-lee/" target="_blank">website</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">In District 10, mostly in Manhattan, incumbent Rep. Jerrold Nadler will take on his first Democratic primary challenger in 20 years - Oliver Rosenberg. Rosenberg is a businessman, a banker, and advocate for the LGBTQ Jewish community, according to his campaign <a href="http://oliverrosenberg.com/meet-oliver/" target="_blank">website</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">In District 12, which includes parts of Manhattan and Queens, incumbent Rep. Carolyn Maloney is being challenged by Pete Lindner, who, according to his campaign <a href="http://4petesakenyc.nationbuilder.com/" target="_blank">website</a>, is a statistical analyst and advocate for the national legalization of marijuana.</p> <p dir="ltr">In District 15, in the Bronx, José Serrano, the incumbent, has served the district for 26 years. Democratic challenger Leonel Baez will also be on the ballot; however, it does not seem that Baez has made a strong effort to campaign (his&nbsp;official campaign <a href="http://www.baez2016.com/" target="_blank">website</a> is limited).</p> <p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, several city-based races appear that they will see incumbents unopposed in the primary. This will also be the case outside New York City. However, there will also be a number of contested races leading to November’s Election Day, especially in places considered swing districts, where Republicans and Democrats have recently held the same seat or where party registration numbers are closer than they are in many heavily-Democratic New York City districts.</p> <p dir="ltr">Within the bounds of New York City, only one congressional seat appears open to party oscillation - the eleventh congressional district, which includes Staten Island and part of Southern Brooklyn. That congressional seat is currently held by Daniel Donovan, a Republican, who succeeded his predecessor Michael Grimm in a 2015 special election called after Grimm pleaded guilty to tax fraud. Even while facing charges in 2014, Grimm had kept his seat in a reelection bid.</p> <p dir="ltr">Donovan, formerly the Staten Island District Attorney, is heavily favored to keep the seat, though Richard Reichard, the Democratic challenger, and his supporters are looking to see how a likely Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump presidential matchup could help lift down-ballot Democrats. &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">David Birdsell, a professor and dean at Baruch College, doubts that the race will be competitive.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This seat has seen a&nbsp;good deal of turnover in recent years, owing to redistricting and to incumbents’ personal and legal troubles. Donovan won the special election handily against a Democrat and a Green Party candidate; he’s drawing the same mix in the fall,” said Birdsell.</p> <p dir="ltr">Despite believing that there won’t be much of a district 11 contest in November, Birdsell concedes that Trump’s candidacy could potentially boost Democratic voter turnout. &nbsp;“[Trump’s candidacy] could help Reichard in the eleventh, irrespective of what Republican voters think of Donovan’s willingness to campaign on Trump’s behalf. There isn’t compelling evidence as yet that Trump has expanded GOP appeal, but he could yet deliver on the promise of lots of independent votes, and that could make a major difference in the other direction. Probably not enough so to make a difference in any city races with the possible exception of the eleventh.”</p> <p dir="ltr">While New Yorkers will vote for their congressional representatives in the House and for President come November, there will also be one New York Senate seat on the ballot as well as all 213 seats of the state Legislature. Incumbent Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer will be running for reelection against Republican candidate Wendy Long and Libertarian candidate Alex Merced. If Schumer wins, he would enter his fourth six-year term serving as a senator.</p> <p dir="ltr">As of now, New York’s two Senators are Democrats, as are 18 of its 27 congressional representatives. However, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House are both controlled by Republicans. November’s elections will determine control of both houses, as well as the presidency.</p> <p dir="ltr">Within New York, Democrats hold an overwhelming majority in the state Assembly, with more than 100 of the Assembly’s 150 seats. The state Senate has a much more complicated picture, with its 63 seats split in somewhat strange fashion and control of the chamber on the line in November. Republicans currently hold 31 seats, not quite a majority, but one Democrat, Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, continues to caucus with them. There are also five members of the Independent Democratic Conference, which has a governing coalition with Republicans through this year. Democrats recently flipped one seat in a special election, that for the Long Island seat vacated by former Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who was convicted on federal corruption charges.</p> <p dir="ltr">In terms of party control of government and the policy ramifications thereof, there is a great deal at stake for New York and the country come November 8.</p> <p dir="ltr">For the upcoming New York congressional primaries June 28, only voters registered with a party can vote - voters can check their registration <a href="https://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/" target="_blank">through the state Board of Elections</a>. New voters had to register several weeks ago to be eligible for this vote, while anyone changing party registration had to do so more than a year ago.</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />by Rebecca Oh, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p>