The Democratic Socialists of America’s New York City chapter is throwing its support behind Assembly candidate Keron Alleyne, entering into a political alliance with longtime Brooklyn powerbrokers Charles and Inez Barron and their Black socialist organization Operation POWER.
NYC-DSA voted to finalize the endorsement of Alleyne this past weekend. He’s running in the June Democratic primary for the 60th Assembly District in East New York, Brooklyn. That’ll be a rematch against Assembly Member Nikki Lucas, who was just elected in a February special election where she handily defeated Alleyne 80% to 18%.
Alleyne, 31, has worked at the children’s services nonprofit Global Kids, but is also a political protege of the Barrons, and co-chair of Operation POWER, which the husband and wife political team founded in 1997. He is a relatively late addition to the DSA slate of six new state legislative candidates and six incumbents. Alleyne will be added to “For the Many” slate and get donations from the multi-candidate committee, as well as canvassing support from DSA volunteers. It’s a sought after endorsement, since all five state legislative candidates backed by DSA won in 2020. The organization saw less success in the 2021 New York City Council primaries, where just two of six endorsed candidates won.
At the same time, DSA has been a magnet for criticism on everything from police funding debates to foreign policy statements, and the organization has been publicly chastised as of late by City Council Member Kristin Richardson Jordan, an ally of Charles Barron’s, for not supporting her successful run or the campaigns of her Black radical allies in Harlem. So DSA is framing this latest endorsement of Alleyne as coalition building within a multi-racial, working class movement. “We’re really excited to be aligning with a Black socialist organization, Operation POWER,” NYC-DSA Co-chair Sumathy Kumar, told City & State. “It’s an opportunity to build something like the Rainbow Coalition back again,” she said, referring to the alignment of various race-based socialist organizations in Chicago in 1969. Kumar denied that DSA was responding to any criticisms of a lack of coalition building with the endorsement, but was deferential to Operation POWER and the Barron’s movement. “We’re really excited to learn from them and working with them – people who have been in the fight much longer than the DSA,” she said. “To me, it’s an opportunity to work with an organized base of Black socialists and find out the connections between our base of organization and theirs.”
The support is also notable since Alleyne is not a DSA member himself – like most, if not all, of candidates that DSA has endorsed in the past few election cycles. Alleyne said that’s because he’s focused on his own organization in Operation POWER, but “it’s an honor to receive the support,” which he sought. Alleyne has picked up other endorsements on the progressive left as well, including the Working Families Party, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who is running for governor, state Sen. Jabari Brisport, and organizations including Tenants PAC and Citizen Action.
But Lucas is formidable as an opponent. With the support of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, she won the Assembly seat that Charles Barron vacated in order to run for City Council. Before her, the seat had been held by either Charles or Inez since 2009. Lucas, a former management consultant and frequent political opponent of the Barrons, is expected to once again have the backing of much of the Democratic establishment, including Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Attorney General Letitia James and even the state Democratic party. Lucas also had outside support from Common Sense New Yorkers Inc., a super PAC funded by various big business and real estate interests that spent some $128,000 in the days leading up to the special election. The independent expenditure committee alone easily outspent Alleyne’s approximately $16,000 in expenditures as well as Lucas’ $65,000.
So Alleyne and the DSA may be excited about the coalition building, but supporters know they have a tough primary ahead. “Our candidates are far better,” Charles Barron told City & State. “But the Democratic party machine, they can put up Donald Duck against you and beat you if they get their stuff together.”