District Leader Lincoln Restler, who’s still locked in a tight, high-profile race against the Brooklyn Democratic establishment despite the implosion of county boss Vito Lopez, is seizing upon a New York Post report that Mr. Lopez’s last aim as county leader is eliminating him on September 13th.
“Dear Friends and Neighbors, Even in the midst of a shameful and potentially criminal sexual harassment scandal, disgraced Boss Vito Lopez is desperately clinging to power for one reason: to halt our campaign to reform the Brooklyn Democratic Party. Vito seems to be obsessed with defeating us,” he wrote in an email to his supporters, entitled “Vito’s Last Stand.”
He then quoted the Post reporting, ”A Brooklyn party source said Lopez doesn’t want to give up his Assembly seat because he is still hoping to get rid of Lincoln Restler….”
Beyond the ellipsis in the original article is, “…who could challenge Lopez’s protégé, City Councilman Steve Levin,” a speculated political path for Mr. Restler in 2013. He insists he’s completely focused on his reelection race, however, which is understandable as Mr. Lopez wields a huge percentage of the vote in his district’s Democratic electorate in Hasidic Williamsburg.
“The election is two weeks from today and we need your support,” Mr. Restler continued, calling for contributions and volunteers. “In spite of Vito’s recent troubles, this election will be extremely close.”
While there isn’t necessarily a direct connection between Mr. Lopez’s Assembly seat and his ability to defeat Mr. Restler, the theory could be that Mr. Lopez hopes to maintain as much political power as possible in order to influence key elections. Indeed, the evidence suggests the race is a priority for him on September 13th. The day before Mr. Lopez’s sexual harassment allegation scandal emerged, the Wall Street Journal profiled the race, writing at one point, “Mr. Lopez proceeded to discuss the race that he cares little about for about 30 minutes before hanging up.”
For his part, Mr. Lopez declared his innocence and vowed to remain in the State Assembly and clear his name of what he feels is a politically-motivated conspiracy against him.
Mr. Restler faces off against local community board chairman Chris Olechowski, who’s working closely with Mr. Levin, in a race that has drawn an incredible amount of attention and fundraising on both sides considering it’s all for an unpaid county position few voters have heard of.