Youth uprising! Upstart political club vows to take on the GOP — and the Democratic establishment

Southern Brooklyn Democrats chair Jennifer Thorpe-Moscon says her club will take on Repbulicans — and Democrats who the club thinks aren’t liberal enough.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Who says southern Brooklyn’s political clubs are run by stodgy old men?

A young, saber-rattling woman has formed her own Democratic group to stop the GOP from coming into Southern Brooklyn after realizing that the current Democrats in charge are having trouble keeping the Republican wave at bay.

Jennifer Thorpe-Moscon, a Gravesend resident who interns for Borough President Markowitz, put together her Southern Brooklyn Democrats last year, after Rep. Bob Turner (R–Sheepshead Bay) scored an upset victory to replace Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, who resigned amid a sexting scandal.

“It saddens me to think that we lost Weiner’s seat,” Thorpe-Moscon said. “It was a disgrace.”

Yet, the rookie gladiator still has an important hurdle to overcome — finding a meeting spot for her three-month-old, 50-member club she hopes will become a fiery debating ground for liberal-minded political wonks to chew over issues relating to gay rights, education reform and healthcare.

“We need a new generation of motivated progressive leaders to step up,” she said.

But she’s not the first to challenge Brooklyn’s current Democratic establishment, which is currently run by Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D–Bushwick).

The New Kings Democrats, a group that formed around the 2008 presidential election, has bared its teeth at Lopez from time to time, as has the Bay Ridge Democrats, which was established in 2010.

Justin Brannan, the president of the Bay Ridge Democrats believes that Thorpe-Moscon is breaking new political ground by focusing on Coney Island and Sheepshead Bay.

“No one has really ever organized in that area on a grassroots level,” explained Brannan, who is also an aide to Councilman Vincent Gentile (D—Bay Ridge). “It’ll be a good signal for Democrats to get more involved.”

Thorpe-Moscon says she wants to run home-grown candidates against Republicans looking to expand their Bay Ridge base, where the GOP clout includes Golden, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R–Bay Ridge) and Rep. Michael Grimm (R–Bay Ridge). She also wants to target — and get rid of — less progressive Democrats who haven’t whipped up enough excitement among younger party members.

But while she claims her group is pretty left of liberal, it’s endorsements tell another story: they’ve backed middle of the road Democratic Councilman Lew Fidler in next week’s special election against Republican attorney David Storobin for disgraced ex-pol Carl Kruger’s senate seat, although there were no other Democratic candidates to choose from. The group also vowed to support Andrew Gounardes, an Eagle Scout, in his uphill climb to unseat veteran state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge).

And experienced southern Brooklyn leaders say Thorpe-Moscon has her work cut out for her down the line.

“It’s wonderful that people are getting involved in politics,” said District Leader Michael Geller (D–Sheepshead Bay), a member of the Kings Highway Democratic Club. “But they’ll learn it’s difficult to start a [political] organization from scratch.”

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at dbush@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.

Jennifer Thorpe-Moscon started the Southern Brooklyn Democrats club to get her neighbors more involved in politics.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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