The race to replace Assemblyman Vito Lopez as the head of the Kings County Democratic Party wages on tonight.
Supporters of Frank Seddio are privately very confident they have secured enough votes, but those hoping for a win by Assemblyman Karim Camara are meeting right now to plan their upset and capture the needed majority of the county’s district leader vote.
The plan in question is effectively a double-bank shot.
First, they need unity among the county’s black district leaders in order for their campaign to have credibility going forward. Of Brooklyn’s 53 elected district leaders, at least 15 of them are African-American, so this would be no small number if they act in unison. However, this is also no easy task as these leaders have diverse backgrounds and do not automatically represent a monolithic block. As one source told the Politicker, “There are a lot of egos at play.”
“The biggest obstacle to this is the black members themselves,” Mona Davids, who’s president of the consulting firm The Protea Group and has been monitoring the negotiations, explained. “They need to come together.”
Indeed, there are already signs of disunity. Multiple sources said Jesse Hamilton, the district leader in Mr. Camara’s seat who aims to run for higher office soon, has shown resistance to the idea of resigning his position so that a majority of the district leaders, if they so desire, can vote Mr. Camara in to replace him. This is a prerequisite to making Mr. Camara eligible for Mr. Lopez’s position, but there is a workaround of implementing a rules change to allow non-district leaders to serve as the county’s top Democrat. This would also take a majority of the vote.
If tonight’s meeting goes swimmingly and the black district leaders emerge unified, the thought is that other district leaders then might start to look at Mr. Camara as viable and consider aligning with him. As Mr. Camara’s support builds, Mr. Seddio’s political opponents then plan to set their sights on the 11 “at-large” district leaders, which were hand-selected by previous county bosses. Six were selected by Mr. Lopez in 2010, and caused controversy at the time, even from establishment players like Councilman Lew Fidler, as the added Lopez loyalists diluted the strength of existing district leaders’ votes.
Mr. Camara’s backers hope to try and reignite that outrage and secure a majority of the vote to remove these district leaders. After all, their argument goes, why should Mr. Lopez’s “cronies” still be around weighting the vote in his favor when Mr. Lopez is no longer the county leader? However, this is not necessarily a simple maneuver as those eleven district leaders will very much get to participate in the vote for their own existence. And Mr. Seddio’s backers may not want to play along, of course.
“This vote-counting process is more complicated than people are counting,” one supporter of Mr. Camara’s countered when we brought up this difficulty. “These are Vito’s at-large leaders, not Frank’s.”
As any vote to replace Mr. Lopez is likely to be weeks away — after the September 13th primary elections, where several leaders are retiring and others are facing competitive elections — the supporter went on to say that they will have time to make the case for Mr. Camara.
That is, if everything goes according to plan.