Gale Brewer requests revote after losing an endorsement to City Council challenger

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
a katz/Shutterstock
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer

Gale Brewer requests revote after losing an endorsement to City Council challenger

Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club endorsed Sara Lind over the Manhattan borough president.
February 4, 2021

The original endorsement came as a surprise to many. The Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, a prominent progressive political club that focuses on LGBT issues, had voted to support City Council candidate Sara Lind, an attorney and political activist running for office for the first time, over Gale Brewer, the sitting Manhattan borough president who is now campaigning to reclaim the Council seat she previously held for 12 years. Brewer isn’t just experienced – she’s one of the most beloved politicians in the city, and would normally be expected to gobble up endorsements on her way to victory. 

Nobody seemed more surprised than Brewer, who has since demanded the club vote to revoke Lind’s endorsement and reconsider endorsing Brewer instead. The club will consider the motion at its meeting Thursday night.

But Brewer’s response has caused what one might call a “brewhaha.” 

“I find it offensive that a woman is basically trying to undermine another female candidate,” said Melissa Mark-Viverito, the former City Council Speaker who served with Brewer, and is a member of Jim Owles’ board of governors. “To have Gale come in and bigfoot and use her influence and power – I don’t see why we should be party to that.”

The club’s endorsements are made by a simple plurality of the votes cast at meetings, but club president Allen Roskoff told City & State that the club’s constitution allows for endorsements to be revoked by a two-thirds vote by the board of directors. The club could then endorse another candidate. But the measure has rarely been invoked since the club was founded in 2004.

Roskoff said the only previous vote to revoke an endorsement came in 2018, when supporters of Zephyr Teachout’s campaign for attorney general tried to get the club to reconsider its endorsement of Letitia James. The motion did not pass. 

This time, Roskoff was supportive of Lind, but noted that it was Brewer’s right to ask for a change. “I personally do not consider a revote a reflection of Sara Lind,” he said. “But the club is entitled to do this.”

Brewer, who is a member of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, confirmed to City & State that she herself was one of at least six members of the club who asked to reconsider the endorsement of Lind. “There is an appeal process,” Brewer said. “And my understanding is that we are utilizing the appeal.”

Brewer complained that the original endorsement meeting on Jan. 23 went off the rails when Roskoff got fixated on a hyper-specific community board issue. Brewer declined to elaborate but said “it was out of left field… I thought, this wasn’t fair. I would like to have a second chance.” 

Other JOLDC members who attended the meeting were unimpressed with Brewer’s interview at that Jan. 23 meeting, with one noting that it seemed like she wasn’t even trying. “To say the least, it was not a good interview,” Roskoff said.

Brewer and Lind are running in City Council District 6, which covers much of Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Six candidates have filed to run for the seat, and Lind is the only one to have qualified for public matching funds so far. In a statement to City & State, Lind said she was “in disbelief” to hear about the club’s vote. “Getting the Jim Owles endorsement is one of the biggest things to happen for our campaign so far,” she wrote, praising the club’s leadership. “To have the endorsement revoked would be really disappointing.”

Correction: The Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club endorses the winner of a plurality vote.

Jeff Coltin
is a senior reporter at City & State. He covers New York City Hall.
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