Heard Around Town

Super PACs spent big on NYC Council primaries

The political funding organizations may have had a hand in Chris Banks’ upset over City Council veteran Charles Barron.

Chris Banks Labor Strong graphic

Chris Banks Labor Strong graphic Labor Strong 2023

Super PACs reported spending $1,515,406 across the New York City Council races. And there’s likely more out there. (Business-backed People Enhancing New York blames “compliance issue” for its lack of reporting yet.) And that independent spending seemed to make a difference. Could anyone say Chris Banks would have beat Council Member Charles Barron without some $209,000 in outside support from Labor Strong, the Carpenters, and the Police Benevolent Association? Unofficial election night results showed Banks with 50.5% of first-choice votes compared to Barron’s 43.2%.

All the scared incumbents who let it be known they wanted support won reelection too. “There was a lot of pants-shitting leading up to the election,” said one labor operative. But even if Council Members like Marjorie Velázquez, Linda Lee and Lynn Schulman could have won without super PACs, “I’d argue it was necessary to show strength.”