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No surprises at all in local primaries • Brooklyn Paper

No surprises at all in local primaries

Chris Owens toasts our photographer over his district leader win.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

There were no primary election upsets in our coverage area, but that’s to be expected in New York City democracy. Here’s all the news that’s fit to print on a tight, caffeine-aided deadline (though all results reflect all precincts reporting):

Congress — Democrats

Rep. Ed Towns, 19,816
Kevin Powell, 8,991

10th District

Canarsie, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Downtown

Towns easily defeated his rival, Kevin Powell, who has constantly talked about a youthquake in the district, even as he has never generated traction among voters.

“I see my victory as a vindication, and that the voters want me to go back to Washington and work hard on health care to strengthen it,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working very hard.”

Towns is currently the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Powell, the former “Real World” star turned author and public speaker, ran into trouble during the campaign when it was revealed that he owes more than $600,000 in back taxes.

“He may have won tonight, but he did not win the hearts of Brooklyn people,” Powell claimed, vowing to return to challenge Towns in 2012.

State Senate — Democrats

Velmanette Montgomery, 12,742
Mark Pollard, 3,104

18th District

Fort Greene, Park Slope and Red Hook

Incumbent Velmanette Montgomery won in an 81-19 percent landslide over newcomer Mark Pollard, yet another weak challenger to a senator who has been in Albany since 1986.

Some said Pollard was a fresh face, but Montgomery won big, in part due to her support for the federal Superfund clean-up of the Gowanus Canal, the fetid waterway that now has a federal budget, and her longtime opposition to the Atlantic Yards mega-development.

Assembly — Democrats

Joan Millman, 6,826
Doug Biviano, 2,450

52nd District

Jo Anne Simon celebrated her district leader win in the best way possible, with nourishment.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope

Incumbent Assemblywoman Joan Millman held her seat over challenger Doug Biviano by a 73–26 percentage vote, effectively ending a long squabble between she and Biviano over her “double dipping” by taking her public school teacher’s pension, her alleged lack of leadership on MTA cuts, and her role in overall Albany dysfunction.

“It feels good, but we’re still working,” Millman said from the election war room on First Place and Court Street in Cobble Hill. “Already I have bills in the works, and I’ll be tying up loose ends until January.”

One of those loose ends, she said, is a bill that would funnel federal stimulus money toward the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s operating expenses — mostly because the city could soon charge straphangers “more for using transit less.”

The statement flies in the face of Biviano, who recently lambasted the incumbent for posing for a photo op against transit budget cuts, right after she voted to reduce the agency’s funding.

That said, Biviano was unreachable for the entirety of election night.

For now, the MTA bill and Millman’s support for housing inside Brooklyn Bridge Park — which would help fund its expensive maintenance budget but turn the “park” into the backyard of a development — will prove to be her most challenging immediate projects.

District leaders

Male:

Chris Owens, 2,154
Jesse Strauss, 1,361

Stephen Williamson, 771

Female:

Jo Anne Simon, 2,645
Hope Reichbach, 1,657

52nd Assembly District

DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope

In the male district leader race, Chris Owens owns Downtown.

The wild three-way race to succeed retiring state committeeman Alan Fleischman ended in a big victory by the political veteran who received redemption after a failed bid for Congress four years ago.

All smiles: Longtime Rep. Ed Towns trounced rival Kevin Powell in the Democratic primary.
Community Newspaper Group / Thomas Tracy

Voters in Prospect Heights and Park Slope carried Owens to victory on Tuesday night, in addition to steady support he received in Brooklyn Heights, according to unofficial poll results.

“We won because we had a winning strategy, we understood the district, we understood where our base was in a low turnout election, and we knew how to expand our base,” said Owens. “People wanted change and they wanted somebody with substance they didn’t want more political games and we made that clear.

Owens’s victory is a significant hold for Brownstone Brooklyn reform groups, which risked losing the seat to a candidate backed by the county’s chairman.

During the race, Owens campaigned against Williamson, who was endorsed by Democratic party chairman Vito Lopez, as the machine-backed candidate, and against Strauss, who had been endorsed by Assemblywoman Joan Millman (D-Boerum Hill), as the Albany-backed candidate.

Owens, son of former congressmen Major Owens, has already pledged to cast his vote against Lopez in his bid for party chairman later this month.

On the distaff side of this district, Simon fended off a furious challenge from political upstart Hope Reichbach.

“This is a reform district, this is an independent district that cares about accountability, transparency and the rule of law and this is a district that said we want to choose our leadership,” said Simon at her campaign headquarters at Independent Neighborhood Democrats. “It’s as simple as that.”

Simon drew her strength from Park Slope, Boerum Hill, and Boerum Heights, as well as several polling sites in Carroll Gardens — the heart of Brownstone Brooklyn.

Both women have been clashing for months. Simon has accused Reichbach of being a party stooge who will vote in lockstep with the party’s chairman, Vito Lopez, and Reichbach has lambasted Simon’s “sense of entitlement” for the seat and dismissed her reform credentials, claiming that she was the true progressive in the race.

Voters in Brownstone Brooklyn responded strongly to Simon’s message of experience and reform, choosing to back the woman who has served as the district’s state committeewoman since 2004.

But Reichbach’s polling of 37 percent was a strong showing for the first-time candidate whose family, including her father, judge Gus Reichbach, remains well-respected in Downtown, and even Simon conceded that Reichbach has a bright future in politics.

Reichbach, for her part, vowed to carry on.

“You know, I’m 22 and I got more votes than I thought I would need,” said Reichbach. “I’m not upset right now. I’m going out with my friends right now on Smith Street and I don’t have to wear a suit. I’m happy with that.”

— with Thomas Tracy

Loser Kevin Powell was a sad sack as he watched the returns at Rustik on DeKalb Avenue in Fort Greene.
Community Newspaper Group / Thomas Tracy

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