Schack attack!

Coney candidate: Coney Island Generation Gap's executive director Pam Harris is runnimng for the seat as a Democrat.
File photo by Georgine Benvenuto

They say she shacked up with the wrong candidate.

Local political insiders accuse Bay Ridge political leader Dilia Schack of selling out her own neighborhood by orchestrating an 11th-hour deal to install a Coney Islander as the Democratic candidate for an upcoming special election in the 46th Assembly District, which covers portions of Bay Ridge and all of Coney Island.

The Kings County Democratic Committee nominated former Department of Corrections worker and Coney Islander Pam Harris to run to fill the seat Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny vacated earlier this year during a vote at Dyker Heights caterer Sirico’s on Sept. 15.

Insiders accuse Schack of pulling strings to get Harris the nomination over two Bay Ridge candidates in order to gain Coney Island’s support when she runs for reelection as district leader — an unpaid, low-level elected official who acts as a local organizer for the party. The alleged move to cement her own position came at a critical cost to the Ridge, said one critic in a dramatic and apparently pseudonymous e-mail.

“The people of Bay Ridge will not forget September 15, 2015: The day Dilia Schack threw us all under the bus and sold out Bay Ridge to save herself,” according to an e-mail circulating in Ridge political circles the day after the meeting, purportedly written by someone named Kris English.

That name is not listed in the white pages, and two messages sent to the e-mail address that supposedly generated the missive were returned because the address “does not exist.” But several Democratic Party operatives who were at the nomination meeting told this paper they shared the e-mail’s sentiment, even if they didn’t know who initially sent it.

In the case of special elections, the voters do not chose candidates through a primary. Instead, party committees select the candidates to run on their ticket.

Going into the committee vote, Ridgite and former Brook-Krasny chief of staff Kate Cucco had the most support — followed by Harris and then Ridge lawyer Cody McCone, sources said.

But several insiders said Schack called McCone and urged him to bow out and tell his supporters to vote for Harris.

Schack, who missed the meeting while recovering from a blood clot in her lung, said she didn’t pull any strings — or even make the phone call.

“I wasn’t there,” Schack said. “I was called before to change the votes, and I said [McCone] has his own proxies [absentee votes], he has his own votes.”

McCone backed up Schack’s account, but would not name the person who initiated the call.

“A former elected called her and handed me the phone,” he said.

McCone said that Schack did not ask him to throw his support behind Harris and he ultimately told his backers to follow their hearts.

“[Schack] said ‘Cody, you worked for this and its completely your decision,’ ” McCone said. “So my voters, I told them that they should follow their conscious and choose the best rep they believed for the district.”

Schack doubts she’ll even run for re-election as district leader due to her declining health, she said.

“With my health the way it is, I doubt it very much — I’m wiped,” Schack said.

Harris said she never had Schack’s support and said Schack could easily face a challenger if she runs again.

“As far as I am concerned, Dilia wasn’t backing me,” Harris said. “No one’s seat is sacred. Dilia has been challenged before for her seat — this is not anything new. It can sometimes be a game of musical chairs — if you get up and you don’t catch the music at the right time, you can lose.”

Harris will face Republican district leader and perennial also-ran Lucretia Regina-Potter in the November special election.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Endangered pander: Critics say Democratic district leader Dilia Schack orchestrated a last-minute coup to nominate Harris in a ploy for votes from Coney Island for when she seeks her own reelection next year.

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