Early voting begins in 43rd Assembly District special election Saturday

Working Families Party candidate Jelanie DeShong and Democratic candidate Brian Cunningham are on the ballot to succeed now-Deputy Borough President Diana Richardson.
Courtesy of campaigns

Early voting is set to begin on Saturday, March 12, in the special election to replace Diana Richardson in central Brooklyn’s 43rd Assembly District, which covers Prospect Lefferts Gardens and parts of Crown Heights and Flatbush.

Richardson vacated her Assembly seat, which she’d held since 2015, earlier this year to become Deputy Borough President under new beep Antonio Reynoso. The Democratic nomination, which is decided by the party’s County Committee, was won by Brian Cunningham, a fixture of area politics who previously ran for City Council and has worked for a number of local pols.

Cunningham beat out four other candidates to win the coveted Democratic nomination, which in super-blue Brooklyn typically guarantees victory, but as with many special elections, his victory came with the help of “proxy votes,” where the Democratic District Leaders were able to cast a vote on behalf of County Committee members not in attendance at an in-person meeting. Cunningham still won an overwhelming 90 percent of County Committee votes and got support from both party leaders and from reformers.

One of the candidates Cunningham defeated, Jelanie DeShong, was subsequently nominated by the Working Families Party, becoming the second candidate to run a special election on the WFP line in Brooklyn this year after contesting a Democratic nomination they never really had a chance to win.

The first, Keron Alleyne, also ran on the WFP line after losing in Democratic County Committee, but lost by a resounding 60-point margin on election day to Democrat Nikki Lucas. While DeShong’s chances are slim, he is likely to fare slightly better, as the WFP has received higher vote shares in the 43rd than in Alleyne’s 60th, and Richardson herself was only the second elected official in Brooklyn history to win office on just the WFP line.

DeShong also has the support of a number of local electeds, including US Rep. Yvette Clarke, state Sen. Zellnor Myrie, Borough President Reynoso, and Richardson herself. Cunningham has the support of local Councilmember Rita Joseph, state Sen. Kevin Parker, and the apparatus and ballot line of the Brooklyn Democratic Party.

Also on the ballot is Mesidor Azor, a life insurance agent running on the Republican and Conservative Party line.

If past special elections are any hint, turnout will be extremely low; only about 2.7 percent of registered voters showed up to the polls for the election in the 60th Assembly District, which is situated in East New York. Furthermore, whoever wins the special election will still have to run in the Democratic primary in June, which a number of the special election contenders are still planning to contest.

Early voting in the 43rd Assembly District starts Saturday, March 12 and runs until Sunday, March 20. Early voting hours can be found here, while you can look up your poll site here. Election Day is Tuesday, March 22. You can learn more about the candidates on their websites or on NYC Votes.