Cohn heads! Steve wants his son to take his district leader seat

The Brooklyn Paper
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Call it the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost!

Longtime Democratic District Leader Steve Cohn has apparently abandoned his re-election campaign, hoping to have his son, Warren, succeed him — all with the apparent blessing of the county’s Democratic boss, Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

On Thursday afternoon, Warren Cohn announced his candidacy for the obscure, little-known position that his father has held for nearly three decades.

“I’ve been wanting to run for office, and I think I can have a good influence on the community,” Cohn, a staffer for Rep. Ed Towns (D-Fort Greene), wrote on his Facebook page.

The younger Cohn faces a formidable challenge from feisty reform candidate Lincoln Restler, a leader of the two-year-old New Kings Democrats club, who is running more against Lopez than against either Cohn.

“Whether it’s the father or the son, my campaign is about a bold new vision for a progressive Democratic Party,” he said. “Brooklyn deserves no less.”

This district leader race is is yet another twist in the hottest political story of the spring, as dozens of candidates throughout the borough are mounting challenges against incumbent leaders in a bid to wrest control of the Party away from Lopez (D-Bushwick).

The job itself is fairly routine. State committeemembers — there are four per assembly district, two per party — are responsible for hiring poll workers during Election Day, approving judicial candidates for civil court and filling party vacancies.

Oh, and they also select the county chairman — and Lopez clearly wants to keep the job.

To do so, Lopez is not only backing candidates against district leaders who displease him, but created five, unelected at-large district leaders — and then filled them with his allies.

As a result of Lopez’s power grab, Alan Fleishman, a district leader in a neighboring assembly district, said he would no longer seek re-election.

Both Cohns attended a Lopez fundraiser last Thursday, and appealed for his support. The party boss did not publicly endorse Warren Cohn against Restler, but sources said that he is receptive to Cohn’s campaign.

Restler, of course, isn’t counting on support from Lopez, because getting it means that he would be a Lopez supporter.

“The only people Vito wants around are 100 percent yes people,” said Restler. “Vito is playing some offense now and so will we.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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