Call it his local victory lap!
Democratic pols and leaders cheered freshman state Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D–Crown Heights) at his hometown swearing-in ceremony, lavishing the political newcomer with praise as he took the oath of office at a Prospect-Lefferts Gardens medical center.
Many of the pols that spoke at the event used Myrie’s victory over his predecessor Jesse Hamilton — who notoriously caucused with Albany Republicans as a member of the Independent Democratic Conference — as a warning to other elected officials who might consider betraying their own party.
“Electing Zellnor sent a strong message to all elected officials that turncoats, sellouts, and deceivers will not be allowed to represent this community,” Crown Heights Assemblywoman Diana Richardson said before the crowd that gathered inside State University of New York Downstate’s auditorium.
Richardson joined Kings County Dems from all ranks at the Feb. 10 event, including Sen. Chuck Schumer, state Attorney General Letitia James, and city Comptroller Scott Stringer, who described the legislative newcomer as a political wunderkind while taking his own subtle swipes at Hamilton, whom Myrie first defeated in September’s Democratic primary, before trouncing him again during the November general election, when Hamilton ran on the Independence and Women’s Equality parties lines.
“We want Democrats that will remain Democrats, not Democrats that turn into Republicans,” Stringer said.
Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) also took the opportunity to pile on Hamilton and his cohorts in the now defunct Independent Democratic Caucus — which dissolved last April, months before six of its eight former members lost their seats in November.
Lander credited Myrie’s early campaign announcement — which came nearly a year before the 2018 primaries — for raising awareness among voters of Hamilton’s blue party betrayal.
“Zellnor’s early decision to run helped wake us up to a real perversion in our democracy that we were not paying enough attention to,” the councilman said. “Too many of us got lulled into complacency. We had come to accept that even though we had elected Democrats to the state Senate, we could not win the things that mattered most to us.”
Myrie, who officially assumed his new position representing Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, and Sunset Park in the state Senate last month, took his so-called “district oath of office” with the help of Queens state Sen. and Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris.
The man of the hour also used his time at the podium to extoll his own legislative history — which, while brief, already includes legislation passed as part of a package of statewide voting-reform laws, and his sponsorship of other so-called progressive bills such as the Reproductive Health Act, which codified reproductive rights established by the Roe vs. Wade ruling, and the Child Victims Act, which extended the statute of limitations for sex crimes, after Gov. Cuomo signed off on them in the weeks since Myrie took office.
“This was just in the first month,” Myrie said. “I hope you are ready for a new district.”