City Council hopeful Steve Levin, slammed by his opponents in the Greenpoint to Park Slope district as the “machine candidate” because of his relationship with Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Vito Lopez, moved into higher gear thanks to last Friday’s endorsement by Sen. Charles Schumer.
“I believe that Steve will be a great councilman and I’m proud to endorse him,” Schumer said at Borough Hall on Friday morning. “I think he will follow in the footsteps of David Yassky,” the current councilman.
In making the endorsement, Schumer dodged a question about Levin’s support for the city’s controversial rezoning of the Broadway Triangle area in the eastern portion of the district. The proposal has been criticized because the city gave the redevelopment to two non-profit groups with ties to Lopez and Levin.
“Creating new housing, but not letting development just run upshot, is a hard thing to do,” Schumer said. “You have to thread the needle and Steve did an excellent job in doing that. The correct answer is creating new and affordable housing.”
Levin pronounced himself “deeply humbled, inspired and greatly honored” to be “endorsed by our great senator, Charles Schumer.”
He also thanked Lopez (D-Bushwick), who is not only the Brooklyn Democratic Party chairman, but also employs Levin has his chief of staff. Lopez was not at the event.
Lopez may not have physically been on hand, but Levin’s rivals continue to use Levin’s connection to Lopez to paint him as the “machine candidate,” though Lopez challenged that notion in a call to The Brooklyn Paper last Thursday.
“He’s his own man, which, I know, coming from me, on a call like this, doesn’t sound, you know…,” Lopez said. “But if you look at his endorsements, there are a lot of groups and people on his list that don’t like me.”
Levin has also been tapped by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan), the League of Conservation Voters, the United Federation of Teachers and DC37, and the Working Families Party.
By comparison, other candidates’ lists are less filling: Civil rights attorney Jo Anne Simon has been endorsed by Reps. Nydia Velazquez (D–Sunset Park) and Ed Towns (D–Fort Greene) and a long list of lesser-known officials.
Former Yassky aide Evan Thies has been endorsed by a former “Jeopardy” champion, a Teamsters local, the Freelancers Union — and, perhaps more important, was named a “rising star” by City Hall, a political newspaper.
On Friday, Biviano put out a statement lambasting the Schumer endorsement.
“Is Chuck Schumer popping Albany pills?” the statement asked. “If not, then why did he endorse machine candidate Steve Levin instead of putting his support behind single-payer health care?
“The reason Levin continues to pile up these farce endorsements is because [of] his position as Vito Lopez’s chief henchman,” the statement continued. “The people of the 33rd District deserve better.”
Schumer suggested that they would get that — in Levin.
“Unlike many of those who go to the Ivy League, he didn’t go to Wall Street or go into a big fancy law firm, or anything like that,” Schumer said. “He came to Brooklyn and worked as a community organizer.”
Being endorsed by Schumer has become something of rite of passage for Brooklyn office-seekers. Last year, New York’s senior senator picked then-Councilman Mike McMahon to succeed Vito Fossella in Congress, and he also chose former staffer Daniel Squadron over incumbent state Sen. Marty Connor. Both candidates won handily.