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‘Independent’ Dem chummy with Hizzoner

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He’s Brannan’s buddy!

Mayor DeBlasio spoke at the inauguration of Bay Ridge Councilman Justin Brannan on Sunday, after the newly elected pol campaigned for weeks touting his independence from the mayor, despite his former gig in City Hall and apparent friendship with Hizzoner. But the pair standing comfortably on stage together came as a shocker to no one, said Brannan’s one-time competitor John Quaglione, whom he narrowly beat in the November general election.

“I was not even a little surprised that Mayor Bill DeBlasio attended Councilman Brannan’s inauguration ceremony. However, I do imagine it probably was an eye-opener to a portion of the electorate who saw a candidate run away from a Mayor during campaign season, only to reconnect almost immediately upon taking office,” said Quaglione, who added that he wishes Brannan luck in his first term and hopes he will not hesitate to hold DeBlaio’s feet to the fire.

Brannan’s critics challenged him for running away from the progressive mayor as he campaigned for a seat in one of the city’s more conservative districts — where constituents in several neighborhoods overwhelmingly voted for Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R–Bay Ridge), who was challenging DeBlasio.

Before taking a job with then-outgoing Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge), Brannan worked under DeBlasio’s wing in the Department of Education, and the political club he founded, Bay Ridge Democrats, endorsed Hizzoner early in 2013 — but DeBlasio never reciprocated the endorsement during Brannan’s own election season, making his competitors question if he was purposely avoiding being seen with the 6-foot-5 pol in public.

And Brannan boasted about his independence from the Mayor during one of the last debates before voters hit the polls.

“I’m a guy who could stand up to Mayor DeBlasio as an independent Democrat. I’m actually the only guy who’s running for city Council that’s currently suing Mayor DeBlasio because he’s not picking up the garbage on the private streets,” Brannan said at the time.

But at Brannan’s inauguration on Jan. 21 — which also included the new Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D–Manhattan), Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Public Advocate Tish JamesHizzoner spoke affectionately and personally about him.

DeBlasio doesn’t routinely speak at incoming city legislators’ inaugurations, according to mayoral spokesman Eric Phillips, only “sometimes.” In this cycle, the only other inauguration where he addressed the crowd at for Councilwoman Adrienne Adams’s (D–Queens), Phillips said.

Another former Republican candidate, who lost to Quaglione in the primary but ran in the general on the Reform Party line, said he just hopes Brannan will use his close relationship with the mayor for good.

“It’s obvious that Justin has a close relationship with the Mayor, some stories that the Mayor shared, I absolutely would hope that Justin would keep his word that if the Mayor threatened something that is not good for our district, I hope Justin will stand up to him,” said Bob Capano. “I want Councilman Brannan to succeed, to utilize his leverage, if you will, to better serve our community.”

And Brannan will do just that, according to his chief of staff.

“Councilman Brannan stands by what he said during the campaign: he will stand with the mayor when he’s right and fight like hell against him when he’s wrong,” said Chris McCreight.

• • •

Bay Ridge journalist Ross Barkan, who is challenging long-time state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge), is calling out the pol for making racially charged comments about drug addiction.

When referring apparently to both the opioid epidemic and heroin in particular in an interview with the Brooklyn Eagle, Golden said, “It’s not a ghetto drug. It’s happening to doctors’ kids.”

Addiction to painkillers and heroin has spiked in recent years, particularly in white, middle-and-upper-class communities. The same problem is not new to communities of color, where devastation from addiction and fatal overdoses have long been ignored — but the recent media frenzy, public health outcry, and across-the-aisle political advocacy is only a direct response to the epidemic’s new white victims, critics complain.

Fatal heroin overdoses among whited leapt by 267 percent from 2010 to 2014, slightly higher than the 213-percent jump among blacks, according to data from the documentary program Frontline.

Barkan criticized Golden for his comments, vowing to oust him.

“This racially coded language disgusts me. It also doesn’t surprise me. This is the state senator that has represented me since I was 13-years-old,” Barkan wrote on social media, who has $67,105 in his campaign coffers since 2017, compared to the incumbent’s $565,217. “Let’s retire him in November.”

But before Barkan can get a shot at Golden, he faces off in the Democratic primary against Bay Ridge Democrats member Andrew Gounardes, who has $114,799 in his war chest.

Golden didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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