Indicted Senator John Sampson Has a Challenger

Leon Miles. (Photo: Miles campaign)
Leon Miles. (Photo: Miles campaign)

Scandal-scarred incumbents across the city will be fending off challengers this year and State Senator John Sampson is no exception.

Leon Miles, a former City Council candidate, has filed to run against Mr. Sampson for his eastern Brooklyn seat, according to state election records. Another former rival of Mr. Miles is rumored to be seeking a bid as well. 

“John Sampson should resign and deal with his legal case,” Mr. Miles, a candidate last year for an East New York City Council seat won by Inez Barron, told Politicker. “He’s not gonna do that. That’s the reason I’m running for the Senate district.”

Mr. Sampson was one of a slew of lawmakers in the state legislature indicted last year. The U.S. Attorney charged Mr. Sampson with embezzling $440,000 from real estate escrow accounts. Like another indicted state senator, Malcolm Smith, Mr. Sampson was booted from the Democratic conference and denied of most of his legislative perks. 

But sources say the Democratic establishment, unlike in the case of Mr. Smith, has yet to mobilized a primary challenge against Mr. Sampson, who has been a state senator since 1997. Enjoying high name recognition in his district, Mr. Sampson may still have an strong edge over Mr. Miles, an advocate for the disabled and a property manager booted from the ballot in his race last year. Another candidate from that council race, Sean Henry, is gearing up for a run, sources said, but it may still be an uphill battle to knock off Mr. Sampson if he seeks re-election.

Some Senate Democrats have privately said that they don’t think Mr. Sampson, whose campaign committee is deep  in debt, according to his most recent filing, will remain a in office long-term. Mr. Sampson, once the majority leader of the Senate, has not said publicly if he will seek re-election.

For Mr. Miles, a seat in the Senate would mean an opportunity to create more programs for troubled youth and reduce the amount of gun violence that still plagues his home, East New York, he said.

“Just two days ago a store was robbed in the district. The owner was killed and the person arrested was 19 years old,” Mr. Miles said yesterday. “This has happened throughout the district. While the rest of the borough is going through gentrification, it’s not happening in East New York due to violence.”

Mr. Sampson did not immediately return a request for comment.

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