Nikki Lucas wins East New York Assembly special election

Nikki Lucas.
Courtesy of campaign

Nikki Lucas handily won the special election for East New York’s 60th Assembly District seat Tuesday night, defeating Working Families nominee Keron Alleyne by a substantial margin and delivering a significant, long-sought victory to the Brooklyn Democratic Party in the borough’s easternmost stretch.

Unofficial tallies from the city Board of Elections show Lucas, the Democratic nominee, capturing 78.32 percent of the vote to Alleyne’s 19.6 percent. Republican and Conservative nominee Marvin King trailed at 2 percent.

“Our community has spoken loud and clear, and I am so humbled to now be elected Democratic representative from East New York, Starrett City, Brownsville, and Canarsie,” Lucas said in a victory statement. “Tonight is the result of what happens when we center real change, build coalitions, and demand a just future that includes truly affordable housing, quality public schools, and accessible health care for all. I thank everyone who believed in me, especially my family, clergy, NYCHA and tenant leaders, laborers and working-class New Yorkers, my political club and staff. It is my honor to continue to serve the people of this district, here and in Albany.”

Lucas, a community activist and former district leader who previously ran for City Council, was heavily favored to prevail in the special election after winning the Democratic nomination in a vote of the Brooklyn Democratic Party’s County Committee, given the overwhelming voter registration advantage Democrats hold in the area. She solidified her advantage further by winning a number of key endorsements in the home stretch, including from Mayor Eric Adams and state Attorney General Letitia James.

But the victory was nonetheless significant for the county party as a triumph over Charles and Inez Barron, the iconoclastic Black socialists who have dominated area politics for two decades, and have frequently been at odds with the Democratic machine and its leadership over the years.

In a statement, county Democratic chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn called Lucas’ win a victory for the Democratic Party and for the state writ large.

“Nikki Lucas led Democrats to an astounding victory tonight, and we are proud to welcome her to the Assembly, where I know she will continue to fiercely advocate for the people of East New York,” Bichotte Hermelyn said. “Nikki achieved more than two-thirds of the popular vote through her grassroots activism and engagement in her district. This is not only a win for the Democratic Party, but for the people of New York State, who are fortunate to have Nikki’s leadership in Albany.”

The special election was triggered by Charles Barron’s election to his old Council seat last year; Inez Barron was widely expected to again swap seats with her husband and seek her old Assembly seat, but instead chose to retire. The power couple threw their weight behind Alleyne, a former staffer in Charles’ Assembly office, who won the WFP nod after losing the Democratic nomination. Alleyne also had the support of Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

Keron Alleyne, the Working Families Party nominee for Assembly District 60.Courtesy of Keron Alleyne

Lucas, who previously lost last year’s City Council race to Charles Barron, has been a longtime critic of the couple, arguing that their high-minded, Black socialist politics and combative relationship with the political establishment had accomplished little for East New York, which remains one of the city’s poorest and most resource-deprived neighborhoods.

Winning the special election means Lucas will serve in the seat at least until the end of the year, but she will still have to run in the June Democratic primary and November general election.

Alleyne, in a statement, said that he still intends to contest the June Democratic primary against Lucas, which he had previously alluded to owing to the uphill battle in winning the seat on the WFP line alone.

“Radical change isn’t brought about nor defined by one special election – and we knew that from the day we launched,” Alleyne said. “As we move toward the primary, we are truly grateful for the support earned over these last few months. And are honored to continue to build on the bold leadership set over the last couple decades. My commitment to uproot unjust systems causing harm to our children, families, and community at-large remains strong as ever. Onward.”

In typical special election fashion, turnout was extremely low: with nearly 99 percent of precincts reporting as of Wednesday morning, only 2,648 residents of the 60th showed up to vote, per the BOE. The district has a voting-age population of nearly 100,000 people according to the CUNY Graduate Center’s Redistricting and You project, translating to a turnout of about 2.7 percent.

Though, turnout in East New York was slightly higher than in a concurrently-held special election in Upper Manhattan’s 72nd Assembly District, won by Democrat Manny De Los Santos, where only 2,347 people showed up to the polls.