Borough President Adams’ handpicked successor to his Park Slope state Senate seat crushed his opponent in the Democratic primary on Tuesday night in a breakaway win that surprised observers.
Jesse Hamilton garnered 9,090 votes in the race for the 20th state Senate District, more than double that of his rival Rubain Dorancy, with 95 percent of the votes tallied. And boy was Hamilton excited as he assessed his rise and rattled off his goals.
“We kicked ass and we are taking numbers now,” said Hamilton at his victory party at the Park Slope restaurant Woodland. “I’m going to be the senator for unions. I’m going to be the senator for raising the minimum wage. I’m going to be the senator for affordable housing. I’m going to be the senator for the people!”
The race for the seat Adams vacated pitted Hamilton — a longtime community organizer and attorney with the finance department — against Rubain Dorancy, an administrator in the Department of Education who commentators said was a stand-in for the ambitions of Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D–Fort Greene), making the campaign a proxy battle between Adams and Jeffries.
Before election night, Adams was quick to dismiss any notion of a rivalry with Jeffries, saying the two had a strong history of working together and remained close friends. But on Tuesday night, Adams, Hamilton, and his supporters were singing a different tune.
“We didn’t win by one, or two, or three points, we kicked their ass!” Adams shouted at the victory shindig. “We showed them who the real kingmaker in Brooklyn is.”
The outcome dashed the prediction of veteran political strategist Hank Sheinkopf, who said Dorancy’s support from Jeffries made him a favorite.
As for that proxy battle, every speaker who took the mic to congratulate Hamilton first paid respects to Adams and congratulated him on the victory.
In addition to Jeffries, Dorancy had the backing of Mayor DeBlasio, Reps. Nydia Velazquez (D–Bushwick) and Yvette Clarke (D–Flatbush), and Councilman Jumaane Williams (D–Flatbush). On top of Adams, Hamilton was backed by more than 20 unions, as well as Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) and Councilman Steve Levin (D–Greenpoint). Despite Dorancy’s years spent working as a teacher and involved in education advocacy, Hamilton received the backing of teachers unions thanks to his strident anti-charter school stance.
Hamilton has a long resume of minor positions in local politics, most recently an eight-year stint as male district leader for the 43rd Assembly District, an unpaid but influential Democratic Party position.
Dorancy did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday night.
With the primary behind him, Hamilton is expected to cruise to victory in November with no challenger in his way.