Party Crashers
September 11th, 2008

In a bid for change inspired by Barack Obama, a group called the New Kings Democrats was formed earlier this year to elect a slate of new members to the Brooklyn Democratic Party’s County Committee. Their goal was to get 50 new members on the committee, which elects county bosses, among other things.

That wasn’t a difficult task, given how many seats are vacant: Of the 6,200 county seats available in the Brooklyn Democratic Party, 3,800 were vacant before the election, according to Grassroots Initiative (fixed), which helps candidates run for these seats citywide. Of those seats occupied, 1,400 simply filled out the paperwork. There wasn’t even an election since they were the only ones running. Another 900 were appointed by the party after the election.

While the group was able to find 43 candidates to run for the vacant, uncontested seats, the results for candidates who had competition was mixed. In fact, Matt Cowherd, one of the founders of New Kings, and an attorney by trade, lost in his own race in Bushwick. His running mate also lost (voters elect one male and one female for each county seat).

In 14 contested races, the group won seven, lost four and results for the other four are still unknown, Cowherd says, based on official and unofficial results. The Brooklyn Optimist, a blogger and professor, ran on the slate, but it is unknown yet whether he won. Council candidate Esteban Duran, who is vying for Diana Reynas term limited seat in Bushwick, ran for county committee with New Kings and won.

Others never made it to the ballot. Out of eleven challenges to New Kings’ petitions, five lost, Cowherd says. One was Oscar Muoz of Dyker Heights, who was originally unaffiliated with a party and didn’t change his registration in time.

In his own race, Cowherd says that the Brooklyn Democratic Party made it a point to get him and his running mate. One example is the challenge he faced to his petitions, which he says didn’t even challenge enough signatures to knock his name off the ballot if they had won. “It was like an exercise in annoyance,” says Cowherd, who is also a neighborhood organizer for Brooklyn for Barack. He also points to fliers urging constituents to vote against him which were paid for in part by Assemblymember Vito Lopez, the Brooklyn Democratic Party leader.

But Lopez, who represents Bushwick, counters that Cowherd lost because he wasn’t the best candidate. He painted the race as one between “yuppie newcomers” versus lifelong Hispanic residents. The lawmaker also points out that Cowherd had inappropriately posted literature to poles, which he says carries a $500 fine.

Campaign drama aside, Lopez says he will try to work with them. “I’m willing to work with any county committee member as long as the dialogue is pro-Brooklyn,” he assures. “But I don’t have time to deal with people who are in constant conflict.”

The New Kings, for their part, will be meeting tonight to plan what comes next.

By on September 11, 2008, 4:03 pm
In category: Governing | 7 Comments »

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7 Responses to “Party Crashers”

  1. New Kings Democrats » Blog Archive Says:
    September 11th, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    […] Party Crashers […]

  2. » Blog Archive » Vito Lopez to ‘Yuppie Newcomers’: Drop Dead Says:
    September 11th, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    […] According to the Gotham Gazette, Cowherd maintains that Lopez and the Brooklyn Dems financed a campaign to get his name off the ballot and printed flyers urging a vote against him. No other local committee seat race was targeted. […]

  3. Observer Says:
    September 13th, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    This is ridiculous. Get him?

    Matt Cowherd and the other folks at New Kings Democrats began this failed campaign by slinging mud on their website at Assemblyman Lopez. They called him corrupt and ineffective, neither of which are true.

    When they realized this was a failed strategy, they became more friendly, removed this content from their site, but were still clearly filled with the delusion that they were going to “overturn the system.” By running fifty candidates for County Committee? A friend of mine had a conversation last year with Rachel Lauter where she actually said “we’re going to take down Vito Lopez.” What a joke.

    Assemblyman Lopez has worked hard for the last thirty years in North Brooklyn to improve peoples lives. He is tireless in his efforts, even when it means working during illness. He was working in Bushwick long before corporate attorneys like Cowherd decided to live in illegal loft apartments in Bushwick. People may not like his style or some of his decisions, but overall he is a titan in the fight to help the poor and senior citizens.

    Matt Cowherd is a corporate lawyer who works for Skadden, and moved to the Bushwick only two years ago. Rachel Lauter graduated from Brown University in 2006. What makes them think they are entitled to bash people and win in elections against local candidates who have spent years helping people?

    All the time wasted on this foolish campaign should have been spent helping people in Bushwick. All their education and money should have been spent volunteering for local organizations, making real connections with the people they seek to represent. So that someday, if Cowherd and Lauter still live in Bushwick or Williamsburg and want to run for office, they can point to real accomplishments and to a real commitment to the community.

    Instead, they got what they wanted, elections, and they lost.

  4. New Kings Democrats Says:
    September 14th, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    Why All The Fuss Over New Kings Democrats?

  5. Gotham Gazette - The Wonkster » Blog Archive » Running for Office Without Even Knowing It Says:
    September 16th, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    […] for Lebron, she was inspired by the New Kings Democrats, who successfully ran a slate of 50 county committee members in the Brooklyn Democratic Party. Her and another […]

  6. Marquita Keisler Says:
    December 6th, 2011 at 6:42 am

    Thanks for your website, it is very great. I found the information that I need and I will come back. Best Christmas Gift

  7. On guard Safety 212 Side Shields Says:
    July 10th, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    Now about going through the op’s blog post many will accept the above because its what we actually feel and it is pleasant seeing an op that’s posting this online to review

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