Brooklyn’s Democratic Party Boss is angry that two different candidates have thrown their hat into the ring to oust the Republican Bay Ridge state Senator who has held the seat for the last 15 years.
Both Bay Ridge journalist Ross Barkan and Bay Ridge Democrats member Andrew Gounardes — who also challenged state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) back in 2012 — are vying to replace the long-time state legislator after a slew of recent transgressions they say make him unfit to hold office.
But Kings County’s Democratic Chairman Frank Seddio would rather one of them give up the fight, to avoid a primary.
“Unfortunately, we have two people running, which is creating a primary, that doesn’t make me happy to have two candidates wasting resources, spending energy, and effort,” Seddio said during the twice-yearly county committee meeting on Jan. 24.
Seddio also said that he would rather see a convicted felon, who previously represented the Rock-to-Ridge district before getting sent behind bars for tax fraud, beat incumbent Rep. Dan Donovan (R–Bay Ridge) in a primary, claiming it would be easier for a true blue candidate to beat a former convict than a sitting pol.
“I have to tell you, we’re praying for once that the Republican candidate loses, the Republican incumbent loses because the guy that’s running against him was a congressman, Grimm, and we have a better chance of beating Grimm than we will with Donovan,” he said.
Whoever gets the Republican nod will face a Democratic challenger in November, after that candidate is selected from a list of five challengers — including political outsider Omar Vaid, Army veteran Max Rose, Bay Ridge resident Mike Decillis, Staten Islander Zach Emig, and Staten Islander Michael DeVito.
Oother county committee members blasted Seddio at the meeting for failing to come out against state Sen. Jesse Hamilton (D–Crown Heights) — who is part of the breakaway bloc the Independent Democratic Conference, which sits across the aisle with the Grand Old Party to give the Republicans a majority in the upper chamber — instead telling his constituents in the room of more than 200 to go out and vote themselves, since the county historically does not take a stance in state races.
“I would think that the goal here is to energize the people here in Brooklyn County Committee to engage in the political process with a view of Democrats taking control of whether it’s the Assembly or the Senate,” said Ernest Skinner of the Ernest Skinner Political Association, a Dems’ club founded by Councilman Jumaane Williams (D–Flatbush). “There is a group of people who are continuing to align themselves with the Republicans — those of us who are here need to come up with a strategy.”
But Seddio refused to even acknowledge Hamilton as a turncoat.
“Jesse Hamilton is a Democrat who won,” he said to boos from the crowd. “Jesse Hamilton has been a Democratic leader, he’s made a decision to be with another group, who hopefully the Democrats will one day wake up and join together. You can do what you want.”
County committee members only got to unleash their frustrations after a nearly two-hour debate about congestion pricing, which many criticized as a filibuster, since it took up most of the much-anticipated and often contentious twice-yearly meeting, leaving just 30 minutes before 11 pm for robust conversation about upcoming elections.
“I find these discussions the most valuable — why don’t we start a meeting with, ‘Hey these are our upcoming elections, these are our opportunities.’ That’s what I signed on for, and then that’s not what I got,” said Bay Ridge Democrats member Teri Brennan.
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Brooklyn’s got a new party!
A former Brooklyn Republican who ran on the Grand Old Party ticket is now the head of the borough’s newly formed political party — the Kings County Reform Party.
Capano ran as a Reform Party candidate for the Bay Ridge Council seat eventually won by Democrat Justin Brannan after getting the endorsement from New York State Reform Party chairman Curtis Sliwa following his loss in the Republican primary last September.
But now the Brooklyn Reform party will put up its own candidates to run on its line throughout the borough, said Capano, who is eager to take the helm.
“I am honored to have been elected Chairman of the Brooklyn Reform Party by our members. The Reform Party has a big tent philosophy and we welcome all,” he said in a statement. “Our committee will focus on running a full slate of Reform Party candidates this year, continuing to increase our voter enrollment, and holding community forums on important issues.”
Bob Capano writes a column, “The Right View,” for this paper twice a month.