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Turncoat Dem’s days in party may be numbered • Brooklyn Paper

Turncoat Dem’s days in party may be numbered

He’s on thin ice!

Democratic Midwood state Sen. Simcha Felder — who controversially caucused with Republicans up in Albany, along with turncoat Dems in the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference — may be booted from the blue party next year, after activists demanded he be excommunicated during a Kings County Democratic Party County Committee meeting.

“I asked that someone who has betrayed the party, Simcha Felder — I have affidavits from several people who are residents of [his district], who asked that the Executive Committee meet and consider removing Simcha Felder as a member of the party,” Ernest Skinner, of the Ernest Skinner Political Association, said to exuberant applause from committee members at the Feb. 12 meeting.

Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Frank Seddio said he would address rank-and-file members’ demands to kick the turncoat pol out of the party before the next biannual committee meeting in August.

“It will be addressed by the next meeting,” Seddio said off mic, within earshot of this reporter and others in his immediate vicinity.

But Skinner, who heard the comment, repeated Seddio’s statement loud enough for the audience to hear.

Felder, who in November won his fourth Senate term after running on the Democratic, Republican, and Conservative party lines, caucused with Republicans several times since assuming office in 2013.

But after the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference broke up last April — and six of its members subsequently lost their seats in the November elections — Felder is now a lone rogue legislator in Albany, because the Legislature’s Democratic majority barred him from joining their conference at the start of this year’s session.

• • •

He’s got another backer.

The front-runner in the Feb. 26 special election for public advocate, Councilman Jumaane Williams (D–Flatbush), earned the Brooklyn Democratic Party’s endorsement on Tuesday, after overwhelmingly winning a straw poll conducted following a candidates forum at its Feb. 12 meeting.

More than 600 county committee members, including proxies for those who couldn’t make it to the meeting, cast their votes for Williams — several hundreds more than voted for his challenger and colleague, Councilman Rafael Espinal (D–Bushwick), who came in second place with 119 votes.

Williams thanked the audience for their support following his straw-poll victory, promising to make the borough proud in exchange for earning the local Dems’ support.

“I take none of these votes for granted, I came here so nervous and tried to give the best speech I could give. Thank you so much for this, I hope I can continue to make Brooklyn proud. Brooklyn, thank you so much for standing up one more time,” he said.

The Brooklyn Democratic Party endorsed Williams days after his fellow public-advocate candidates blasted him for his past track record on several issues, including gay marriage and abortion rights, during the first televised debate for the citywide race.

Both Assemblyman Michael Blake (D–Bronx) and former Democratic Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito tore into the councilman for his past opposition to gay rights and abortion, with the Bronx state pol even ripping on him for racking up 27 speeding tickets, including “multiple speeding infractions in school zones.”

“In the past you have been against a woman’s right to choose and marriage equality, and so I think the question is at hand, would you like to share with individuals why you were opposed to those things in the past?” Blake said.

Williams rebuked the claims, emphasizing he now supports abortion rights, but failing to note his change in stance on issues such as gay marriage — an omission his campaign staffers quickly tried to address on Twitter, reported our sister publication Gay City News.

“Just for the record, since people try to distort mine: I 100 percent support the right to access safe and legal abortions, and I 100 percent support marriage equality,” read the tweet posted to Williams’s account during the debate. “It’s unfortunate that people try to falsify my record [because] they have no other response to my years of fighting for equity and justice.”

Seven of the 17 contenders for the seat — including Williams, Espinal, Blake, Mark-Viverito, Assemblyman Ron Kim (D–Queens), attorney Dawn Smalls, and journalist-activist Nomiki Konst — will again face off in the second, and last, televised debate ahead of the special public-advocate election, which will air on Feb. 20 at 7 pm on Spectrum News NY1.

The hopefuls, whom the debate’s host bills as the “leading candidates,” got their spots in the lineup based on certain criteria set by the city’s Campaign Finance Board, including meeting a fund-raising and spending threshold of $170,813 by Feb. 15, and receiving an endorsement from a local, state, or federal pol who represents the city, or from a membership group with more than 250 members residing in the city.

Public Advocate hopefuls who participated in the first debate, including Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell (D–Manhattan), and Councilmen Ydanis Rodriguez (D–Manhattan) and Eric Ulrich (R–Queens), will not join the second event, because they did not meet the requirements to appear.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@schnepsmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.

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