Laura Nahmias reports this morning:
In Brooklyn, peace between rival factions of the county Democratic party is hard to come by.
Levin alleges that Restler, a persistent critic of Brooklyn Democratic chairman Vito Lopez, agreed not to challenge Levin for his Council seat in 2013, if Levin and Lopez ended their attempts to challenge Restler in his race for re-election this year.
“This year’s district leader race, and the possibility of him running against me in next year’s City Council race, were subjects we discussed,” Levin said. “[Restler] said that either he has zero races, or he has two races.”
“We did not come out of it with any reconciliation,” Levin added.
“I was hopeful there might be an opportunity for the Councilman to establish his independence from Vito Lopez, but given his ongoing and aggressive intervention in my District Leader race – clearly that is not going to happen,” Restler said.
Rather than accept the deal, Levin is actively supporting Christopher Olechowski, who recently formed a campaign committee to raise money for a run against Restler.
Restler asked Levin for a beer summit to talk about rumors that Levin was aggressively seeking out challengers to run against him for district leader – including North Brooklyn Development Corporation President Rich Mazur, Greenpoint Gazette Publisher Jeff Mann, Community Board 1 District Manager Gerry Esposito, former district leader Steve Cohn and his son Warren Cohn, all of whom declined. Levin was also mulling a shot at running against Restler himself, sources said.
Other sources confirmed the details of Restler’s offer, but the young district leader declined to comment, saying simply, “I’m singularly focused on my reelection and the Council race isn’t on my radar.”
At the meeting, Restler asked Levin to consider making a definitive break with Lopez, the longtime Assemblyman and county chair who hired Levin as his chief-of-staff in 2006 and helped him win his Council seat in 2009. The meeting came amid persistent rumors that Restler plans to run a Democratic primary against Levin for the Greenpoint-Williamsburg 33rd district Council seat. Brooklyn political sources have said for months that Restler has been gauging support for a possible run.
Levin spoke highly of Olechowski, a Polish-American home-health care service owner who is also a member of Community Board 1. Levin noted that the redistricting process cut out some of the areas in Fort Greene that proved instrumental in Restler’s 2010 victory – increasing Olechewski’s chances of victory.
Despite their political differences, the two young politicians have a similar background. Both attended Brown University, where Restler, 28, majored in Africana and Latin American Studies, and Levin, 31, majored in classics and comparative literature.
– with reporting by Chris Bragg
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