Campaigns & Elections

RCV makes strange bedfellows

And more coverage of key 2021 races.

Campaign Confidential is a weekly newsletter that goes out on Wednesdays.

Campaign Confidential is a weekly newsletter that goes out on Wednesdays. Alex Law/City & State

In Flushing, it’s seven against one

A group of seven Democratic candidates running for the New York City Council District 20 seat in Flushing, Queens, have come together to form a coalition against Queens Democratic Party-backed candidate Sandra Ung. Members of the coalition said they want to give people a choice of who to support rather than have the party decide the outcome through its endorsement.

Their coalition is the byproduct of the city’s new ranked-choice voting system, which allows voters to rank up to five candidates in order of preference. And RCV may be encouraging coalition-building against party-backed candidates all over the city. 

On Staten Island, four progressive Democratic candidates in the running for the borough president seat have had conversations about forming an official coalition together, but only have been working together informally so far, one of them told City & State.

Coalition-building is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Former Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Frank Seddio waged petition challenges against five candidates running in City Council District 46. After that, one Democrat in the race, Mercedes Narcisse, told City & State that she reached out to candidates to form a coalition but got no response. Read more here about where candidates in Manhattan want to form a coalition against the front-runner.

The political ad business is booming

Thanks to Ray McGuire’s millions, the spending limit in the Democratic mayoral primary has been raised to $10.9 million, from $7.3 million (as Campaign Confidential predicted in December). Eric Adams and Scott Stringer have already raised over the limit, and the Andrew Yang campaign said he’s raised more than $7.3 million already (including public matching funds) and plans to keep going. All will be revealed (including, finally, more detailed fundraising and spending by independent expenditure groups) at the next disclosure on May 21. But McGuire isn’t rolling the dough alone. Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr.’s massive $629,000 war chest (it pays to be Land Use Committee chair) lifted the $190,000 primary spending cap entirely for District 17 in the South Bronx, but it’s all theoretical, since his lone opponent, Helen Hines, had raised just $5,050 as of the last filing. Same for District 41, where the spending limit has been increased only in theory, because while Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel privately raised $109,099 as of the last filing, former Council Member Darlene Mealy had only brought in $7,970.

Lefty candidates join up for a “good cause”

Left out of the major tenant-friendly rent regulation package two years ago, housing activists are still pushing a bill that would limit most rent increases to 3% annually and require landlords to provide good cause for evicting a tenant. In a Campaign Confidential exclusive, more than 60 candidates for New York City office, including mayoral candidates Scott Stringer, Dianne Morales and Maya Wiley, have signed on to a public pledge to make the bill a “top priority in Albany” and to commit to educating tenants and landlords about legal rights around evictions. Does this mean activists are accepting that the fight will continue into 2022? A spokesperson for Housing Justice for All, which organized the pledge said they remain hopeful it’ll pass this session.

Endorsement Watch

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr., Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato and Abner Louima, a victim of NYPD brutality, each endorsed Eric Adams for mayor … Assembly Member Michael Benedetto endorsed Shaun Donovan for mayor, joined by Assembly Member Charles Fall, who co-endorsedDonovan and Eric Adams … former mayoral candidate Loree Sutton and Assembly Member Danny O’Donnell endorsed Kathryn Garcia for mayor … the Red Hook Star-Revue co-endorsed Garcia and Paperboy Prince … former New York City Public Advocate Mark Green, Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry and the Lesbian & Gay Democratic Club of Queens each endorsed Maya Wiley for mayor … the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club endorsed Dianne Morales for mayor … former candidate for governor and state attorney general Zephyr Teachout endorsed Morales ranked first and Wiley ranked second for mayor … a number of Chinese American associations and Assembly Member Simcha Eichenstein and City Council Member Kalman Yeger endorsed Andrew Yang for mayor … Teamsters Local 237 endorsed Scott Stringer for mayor … Comptroller candidate Brad Lander and Queens borough president candidate Jimmy Van Bramerco-endorsed each other … Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, leader of the Brooklyn Dems, endorsed Kevin Parker for comptroller … Rep. Jerry Nadler and The New York Carib News endorsed Alvin Bragg for Manhattan district attorney … New York League of Conservation Voters released a bipartisan slate of endorsements, including Mark Levine for Manhattan borough president, Leticia Remauro in the Republican primary for Staten Island borough president, and Justin Krebs in Council District 39 in Brooklyn … Transport Workers Union Local 100 is also backing Levine for Manhattan borough president and Nathalia Fernandezfor Bronx borough president … former Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields endorsed Brad Hoylman for her old job … The New York City Coalition of Operating Engineers endorsed a slate of candidates, including Ben Kallos for Manhattan borough president … and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, in his first endorsement of the year, is backing Mercedes Narcisse in Council District 46 in Brooklyn

Got tips? Email or or send a DM to @JCColtin or @SydneyKashiwagi

Poll Sight

The race for Brooklyn borough president is wide open, with major candidates clustered together at the top and half of likely voters still undecided. That’s according to charter schools advocates StudentsFirstNY’s poll, conducted from April 16-21 by Benenson Strategy Group. When the ranked-choice voting scenario plays out, Antonio Reynoso tops Robert Cornegy 55% to 44%. But with numbers this close, all the candidates could imagine a path to victory. Other interesting pieces from the poll? Andrew Yang leads this mayoral poll, like he’s led every other. Vanessa Gibson is in a strong position in the race for Bronx borough president. And Bill de Blasio’s job approval among likely Democratic primary voters isn’t nearly as bad as you might think: 48% approve and 51% disapprove.

StudentsFirstNY Poll
Alex Law/City & State

District Data

City Council District 48 map
Alex Law/ City & State

City Council District 48 in southern Brooklyn,including the neighborhoods of Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach and Sheepshead Bay

Current council member: The seat is empty after Chaim Deutsch, who held the seat since 2014, was expelled from the City Council last week following his guilty plea for tax fraud.

2010 census demographics: 71.2% white, 14.3% Asian and Pacific Islander, 9.1% Hispanic, 3.7% Black

Housing: 68% renter-occupied, 32% owner-occupied

2013 Democratic primary election results: Chaim Deutsch: 34.8%, Ari Kagan: 30.5%, Theresa Scavo: 18.2%, Igor Oberman: 14%, Natraj S. Bhushan: 2.5%

2017 general election results: Chaim Deutsch: 61.5%, Steven Saperstein: 38.3%

Who’s running: Amber Adler, Binyomin Bendet, Steven Saperstein, Heshy Tischler, Mariya Markh and Inna Vernikov. This competitive race got shaken up when one of the leading candidates, Boris Noble, dropped out for health reasons just before the ballot was set. Five candidates are now in the Democratic primary: Amber Adler, an Orthodox Jewish single mother who leads an education nonprofit; Binyomin Bendet, a litigation attorney involved in local politics; Mariya Markh, who has worked for Council Members Lew Fidler, Alan Maisel and Chaim Deutsch; Steven Saperstein, a special education teacher and the co-founder of the youth and senior organization Shorefront Coalition; and Heshy Tischler, the host of a weekly radio show and expeditor who gets permits for construction companies. Tischler became more widely known for organizing violent protests in Borough Park, Brooklyn, over the summer in response to the state’s coronavirus-related restrictions in the area. Saperstein leads the field in fundraising and has labor support, including the United Federation of Teachers and the Police Benevolent Association. Markh has the backing of local elected officials, including state Sen. Diane Savino and Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz. And in this district where many voters backed Donald Trump in 2020, the winner of the primary will likely face Republican Inna Vernikov, a small-business owner and lawyer who worked for former Assembly Member Dov Hikind.

Twitter Posting

This whole virtual campaign season has thrown me so off. Did y’all know that @mayawiley is TALL?!

– Cyn @cynthia4nyc

Welcome to City & State’s Campaign Confidential newsletter, where senior reporter Jeff Coltin – with help from staff reporter Sydney Kashiwagi – is covering the run-up to New York City’s hugely consequential 2021 municipal elections for mayor, City Council and more.
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