Campaign Confidential

Amid tension in the Brooklyn Dems, James sides with Bichotte Hermelyn

Brooklyn is the center of the race for governor, and Tish is picking a lane.

State Attorney General Letitia James has stood by the Brooklyn Democratic Party Leader.

State Attorney General Letitia James has stood by the Brooklyn Democratic Party Leader. Dwight Duval @IDMediaPro

State Attorney General Letitia James may not be holding press conferences, but she’s going to parties – and her appearance at Brooklyn Democratic Leader Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn’s birthday party last week says a lot about the state of politics in the most powerful borough. James could not have been kinder in her praise of RBH, in a video eagerly shared by the Brooklyn Dems. “If we had more county Democratic leaders like her, who speak truth to power, who are not afraid of speaking to individuals, who are more interested in uniting us than dividing us –” James said of Bichotte Hermelyn, who started her own Young Democrats group after clashing with the existing one, and infuriated progressives by quashing modest reforms to decentralize power in back-to-back 13-hour-long virtual meetings last year . “We’ve got to look at the bigger picture … Everyone respects her power, respects her leadership,” James said. That last part is wishful thinking, as made clear by the slow-moving Bushwick Revolution, where reformers like Assembly Member Maritza Davila and Rep. Nydia Velázquez called for Bichotte Hermelyn’s resignation. The revolution lives, in part, on Twitter, so the video got horribly ratioed by reformers disappointed in not just the county leader, but in James, who is ostensibly a progressive reformer. But there isn’t just war between the county establishment and reformers – there’s also a cold war between James and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who’s also running for governor (We’ll ignore de Blasio, for the time being.). James knows that Williams, a democratic socialist, will always outflank her on the left and is unlikely to get much establishment support. So this may be a simple calculation that she’s got more to gain by embracing the Brooklyn Dems than shunning them. Bichotte Hermelyn already has Mayor-elect Eric Adams on her side. She’s clearly got James too. And they’re all going to BK Dems’ holiday party Thursday – along with Gov. Kathy Hochul. Davila seemed a bit disappointed. “Probably the attorney general is looking for some type of unity. But unfortunately the rest of Brooklyn doesn't see it like that. I think it’s going to take some time for the AG to have a sit down with other groups of people and let them share their experience,” she told City & State. “Sometimes people get caught up in the passion of the moment when they’re speaking, and Tish is a passionate speaker.” More passionate speech might be expected at one of the county committee’s annual meetings Sunday night, where politicos could get another sense of Bichotte Hermelyn’s strength in the organization. But it could be quiet. Davila’s skipping. “I can never condone something I don’t believe in,” she said. “And I’ve reached my limit.”