34 DAYS UNTIL THE 2023 PRIMARY ELECTION
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"ANY REPUBLICAN WITH A PULSE COULD WIN"
|By Jeff Coltin|
Staten Island Republicans are on a winning streak: Congress two cycles in a row, borough president for 33 years running, and statewide and citywide candidates have run up huge margins on the island. But this year, the Staten Island Republican Party isn’t even bothering to challenge the one Democrat who represents the whole borough: District Attorney Michael McMahon.
Not a single Republican has filed to run for district attorney. No other Democrat, either, so McMahon will avoid a primary. He’s on track to get reelected to another four-year term in November without breaking a sweat, even in the city’s reddest borough.
Sure, it’s hard to unseat any incumbent, but the way voters have been trending, you would think a ham sandwich could run on the Republican line and get close to 50%. This is a borough where even state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, an Italian American and friend of labor unions, got beat by a 2-to-1 margin by no-name Republican Paul Rodriguez in 2022.
Why not? “The Republican Party is strong on Staten Island,” the county’s party chair, Assembly Member Mike Tannousis, told City & State. “But keep in mind the party is only as strong as the candidates we put forth. We had some interest in regards to that position (district attorney), but no interest that materialized into a candidacy.”
Some Republicans in the borough think that ignores Tannousis’ responsibility for candidate recruitment. “To sit on your hands and not run anybody? That’s the definition of insanity,” said Leticia Remauro, a political consultant and former county chair herself. The party can’t expect to win a race for mayor or governor if it’s not keeping up momentum in off-year elections. “It’s breaking my heart to see that we’re not taking an opportunity to build our party and let the people have a voice,” she said. “You can’t bitch that nobody is coming out to vote if you don’t let them.”
Read more about why nobody has a race on Staten Island in June.
That’s the result of an Eric Adams vs. Jumaane Williams 2025 mayoral primary matchup, according to a poll of New York City voters from Slingshot Strategies. The other 30% aren’t sure. Of course it’s very early, but Adams critics are looking for an opponent, and a progressive person of color seems like the right fit. But the numbers at this point suggest maybe not Williams. In fact, a female candidate might have a chance.
DICKENS KICKIN' SOMEONE OUT
Assembly Member Inez Dickens is trying to evict a tenant at the same time she’s asking Democratic voters in Harlem to get her back into the New York City Council. Dickens is the president of 1389 Construction Corp., which sued Albert Anderson in January, claiming he hasn’t paid rent since June 2018 for his apartment on the famed Strivers’ Row at West 139th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard. The parties are due in Manhattan Housing Court on June 5, just three weeks before primary day – where Anderson is eligible to vote, as a registered Democrat in District 9.
The Dickens campaign said after years of nonpayment, Dickens’ company applied for Emergency Rental Assistance Program money on his behalf in 2021 – but that only covered $11,250 of the total, and Anderson still owes $41,850. Anderson didn’t respond to phone calls from City & State, but he disagreed with his landlord’s claims in a February court filing, arguing among other things that the $750 a month charged isn’t the legal rent, and that Dickens actually owes him money.
“Out of the 34 tenants that Inez has, Mr. Anderson is the only one experiencing this issue,” said Dickens campaign spokesperson Sofia Quintanar, adding that almost all of Dickens’ units are rent stabilized, “and she does not make a profit off of them. She provides well maintained and affordable housing for her tenants, most of whom are able to live in Manhattan for under $1,000/month.”
Court documents suggest this is the only recent eviction proceeding Dickens or her company are involved in, and the 16-unit building Anderson lives in doesn’t have any open housing complaints or violations. However, Dickens was criticized as a “slumlord” a decade ago for racking up nearly 200 city infractions in her buildings – conditions so bad that some tenants declared a rent strike.
In 2020, New York City Council Member Marjorie Velázquez accused then-opponent Mark Gjonaj of opening the East Bronx to the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, since his part-time legal adviser Edmond Pryor was the lawyer for the club when they bought a new headquarters in Throggs Neck. “How do you roll out a red carpet welcome to the Hells Angels?” Velázquez told the Daily News. Pryor ended up resigning, worried he’d reflect poorly on Gjonaj. But now, Pryor is rolling out the red carpet for Velázquez, or at least trying. He was the one who filed petition challenges against all three Democrats vying to challenge Velázquez in District 13, Irene Estrada, John Perez and Bernadette Ferrara. He even tried to get Kristy Marmorato off the Conservative Party line. It wasn’t successful – none of them got kicked off – but it would have been a real boost for Velázquez if they did. Pryor, who didn’t return a request for comment, didn’t work directly for Velázquez – insiders said he was dispatched by the Bronx Democratic Party. Pryor has previously worked with longtime county lawyer Stanley Schlein, and Pryor’s law firm also won the case to get former Council Member Andy King off the ballot to help Council Member Kevin Riley, a Bronx Democratic Party favorite.
“We’re disappointed but not surprised by the continued lies and mudslinging from our opponents,” Velázquez campaign spokesperson Aaron Hecht said as part of a longer emailed statement adding that “the Councilmember never asked this individual to challenge anything, and she has been consistent and vocal in her opposition to the Hells Angels having a headquarters in her district.”
The Working Families Party has a late addition to its endorsement slate: Isis McIntosh Green, who’s trying to unseat City Council Member Darlene Mealy in District 41 in Central Brooklyn. The progressive third party shared the news exclusively with City & State after reporting on Mealy’s dismal attendance rate this term. McIntosh Green’s campaign got a late start, but they’re now running hard against Mealy, sharing a dossier highlighting that she’s only passed six bills in more than 13 years on the council – and that doesn’t include her 2007 bill to symbolically ban “the ‘b’ word” and “ho.”
“We know she will be a powerful voice for affordable housing, quality education, and workers’ rights,” WFP Brooklyn Chapter Chair Bernette Carway-Spruiell said of McIntosh Green, who once worked as Assembly Member Latrice Walker’s chief of staff.
McIntosh Green also just got a late endorsement from the New Majority NYC, and her campaign said more are coming, including major unions. This isn’t progressive territory – Eric Adams crushed Maya Wiley in the Bedford-Stuyvesant and Brownsville district in the 2021 mayoral election – so the WFP brand alone might not help much. But the party has only otherwise endorsed incumbents, some of whom are running uncontested, so McIntosh Green could be set to benefit from the party’s spending and organizing.
Four NYPD unions – the Detectives’ Endowment Association, Sergeants Benevolent Association, Lieutenants Benevolent Association, and Captains Endowment Association – are jointly endorsing New York City Council candidates Susan Lee in District 1, Oswald Feliz in District 15, Joann Ariola in District 32, Ari Kagan in District 47, Inna Vernikov in District 48, Kamillah Hanks in District 49 and David Carr in District 50 … The United Federation of Teachers endorsed a slate of City Council candidates including jointly endorsing Tony Avella and Christopher Bae in District 19, Wai Yee Chan in District 43, Chris Banks over Charles Barron in District 42 and Amber Adler in District 48 … The New York City District Council of Carpenters also endorsed Banks … and state Sen. Jessica Ramos endorsed Bae … The Greater Harlem Coalition endorsed Inez Dickens in District 9 … Former Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields endorsed Yusef Salaam for District 9 … Open New York endorsed Salaam, plus five council incumbents, including Pierina Sanchez in District 14 … For the Many endorsed a slate of local candidates in the Hudson Valley, including Wesley Lee for mayor of Poughkeepsie.
Consultant Michael Lambert, who worked on Assembly Member Nikki Lucas’ special election in 2022, is now consulting for another political foe of the Barrons in Chris Banks, running in City Council District 42 against Council Member Charles Barron … With everyone’s eyes on the 3rd Congressional District, Robert Zimmerman’s 2022 campaign manager Evan Chernack joined candidate coaching organization New Politics … and former Rep. Max Rose doesn’t seem like he’s going to give the 11th Congressional District another try, since he announced he’s joining Frank Carone’s consulting firm Oaktree Solutions.
Got tips? Who are you working for? Who are other people working for? Email or send a DM to Jeff.
City Council District 19 in Northeast Queens, including the neighborhoods of College Point, Whitestone and Bayside
Incumbent: Vickie Paladino
2020 census demographics: 39% white, 38% Asian, 19% Hispanic, 2% Black
2021 Democratic primary election results (first round): Tony Avella: 38%, Richard Lee: 29%, Austin Shafran: 20%, Adriana Aviles: 8%, Francis Spangenberg: 3%, Nabaraj KC: 1%
2021 general election results: Paladino (Republican, Independent): 47.2%, Avella (Democratic): 45.7%, John-Alexander Sakelos (Conservative, Save Our City): 6.8%
Who’s running: Paladino (R), Avella (D), Christopher Bae (D), Paul Graziano (D)
Tony Avella served in the City Council for eight years, the state Senate for eight years, ran for mayor twice and apparently just can’t quit politics. So the 71-year-old is hoping to unseat the 68-year-old Vickie Paladino after falling just short in 2021. But first, he’s got to get past Christopher Bae, a first-time candidate and former assistant district attorney in Queens who has gotten support from folks that haven’t forgiven Avella for joining the Independent Democratic Conference, like state Sens. John Liu and Jessica Ramos. Bae, who’s Korean American, is also hoping to appeal to the district’s growing Asian population. Also running is Paul Graziano, who worked for and is running on a pro-downzoning NIMBY platform – even more so than Avella, whom he used to work for.
Avella is already focused on the general election though. He’s calling out Paladino for standing by lying Rep. George Santos, and somebody placed a story about the council member failing to disclose her unpaid debts.
Paladino has the power of incumbency, and the district has been trending rightward, but Democrats still have a huge enrollment advantage, and it’s harder to predict races this year. So District 19 is one of the top races to watch in both June and November.
Thanks for reading City & State New York’s Campaign Confidential newsletter, where City Hall Bureau Chief Jeff Coltin is covering the biggest races in New York, from the City Council to district attorneys, and looking ahead to the 2024 elections.
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