West Side Story
In a city where a prostitute-patronizing ex-governor and a pathological cybersexter can launch viable campaigns, Aaron Braunstein still manages to be one of the more singular candidates for public office this year.
Sipping a Red Bull and droning with a straight face about how he once won a Rolls Royce in a high-stakes Vegas card game, Mr. Braunstein is an unlikely City Council candidate for an even unlikelier district: the high-minded Upper West Side, where Mr. Braunstein, the father of Orange is the New Black actress Natasha Lyonne, lives alone in a cluttered apartment that once belonged to Mike Tyson.
“I talk to the biggest people in the world. I read Tolstoy, Hunter Thompson, I collect antiques … I mean, I’d vote for me,” Mr. Braunstein recently told Politicker, speaking in a Brooklyn rasp that conjured Godfather- era Marlon Brando. Mr. Braunstein was sporting a pencil moustache along with a three-piece suit, flowing scarf and silver tie peaking out from his vest. A gray ponytail flowed down his back, and on Mr. Braunstein’s plump ring finger was an ancient Roman coin the size of a silver dollar that he said had been fished out from the Mediterranean Sea.
Blast From The Past
Some campaigns point to endorsements from powerful labor unions. Others tout backing from notable elected officials and political clubs.
Upper West Side Councilwoman Gale Brewer boasted today about her former interns.
“Council Member Gale Brewer has been known since she was elected to office, and even prior, for enlisting interns that could make US Senators jealous,” declared the release from her campaign. “During her tenure in the City Council, Gale offered countless internships in her district and city hall offices. “
Helen Rosenthal, one of the leading Democrats campaigning for an Upper West Side Council district, cut a $1,000 check for former Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s aborted Senate campaign. But despite the neighborhood’s status as a progressive bastion, Ms. Rosenthal’s campaign told Politicker she stood by the contribution as a strategic play against a more conservative rival.
In one of its first endorsements this year, the influential 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers union has backed District Leader Marc Landis to replace outgoing Upper West Side Councilwoman Gale Brewer. The race to replace Ms. Brewer is one of the most hotly contested in the city, so the backing from one of the state’s labor powerhouses is undoubtedly a nice boost for Mr. Landis’ campaign.
“Marc Landis has a proven record as a progressive activist dedicated to improving our public schools, creating good jobs, advocating for affordable health care and protecting affordable housing for the working families of New York City,” George Gresham, the union’s president, said in a statement.
Councilman Robert Jackson has racked up the endorsement of the United Federation of Teachers in his bid to be Manhattan’s next borough president. UFT President Michael Mulgrew announced the endorsement, which was voted on by the members of the teacher’s union, in a statement today.
“For more than 30 years, Robert Jackson has fought for New York City’s public school children and has been their champion and advocate,” Mr. Mulgrew said. “He understands personally the power of education and has fought to make sure every child has the chance for the best education possible.”
Councilman Robert Jackson is rolling out his high-profile allies in the Harlem political establishment to help him celebrate his birthday and raise money for his bid to be Manhattan borough president later this month. Former Mayor David Dinkins sent out an email this afternoon announcing a fundraiser and birthday celebration for Mr. Jackson that he will be attending along with Congressman Charlie Rangel, State Senator Bill Perkins and Councilwoman Inez Dickens on December 17.
“Robert Jackson is an effective and energetic fighter who understands the challenges we face in this borough and has proven that he can get the job done,” Mr. Dinkins wrote. “He has been a strong, hard-working, progressive leader in the City Council, and I have great confidence that he will continue to advocate for measures that promise to improve the lives of all the people of the Borough of Manhattan.”
At the “2012 Women For Obama” fundraiser this morning at the Hotel Pierre the vast majority of the audience who turned out to hear First Lady Michelle Obama speak were, naturally, women.
“Are there any men here today?” Ms. Obama asked as she began her speech.
The handful of men in the crowd responded with a smattering of cheers.
“A few good men,” Ms. Obama said. “There you go–stand proud. Stand proud.”
Councilman Robert Jackson is ramping up his fundraising efforts in his bid to be Manhattan Borough President. On April 17, Mr. Jackson is having a fundraiser in an apartment adjacent to Lincoln Center. Mr. Jackson has good reason to step up his efforts to draw donations. As of January, he had a much smaller war chest than two of his rivals in the race for the borough presidency.
a campaign brewing
Veteran Upper West Side Councilwoman Gale Brewer is jumping into the race for Manhattan Borough President.
“I’m going to definitely do it I. haven’t gotten myself organized, because I’m working on so many different issues, but I will,” Ms. Brewer told The Politicker last night at a public forum hosted by Police Reform Organizing Project at the LGBT Community Center.
Ms. Brewer is entering a crowded field. With current Borough President Scott Stringer gearing up to run for mayor next year, Councilman Robert Jackson, Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin and Councilwoman Jessica Lappin have all already begun campaigning for the position.
Ken Biberaj, who works as Vice President at the Russian Tea Room restaurant in Manhattan, looks like he might be throwing his hat in the ring to succeed term-limited Councilwoman Gale Brewer. This afternoon, he registered a committee for the seat, allowing him to fundraise and campaign for the City Council position in 2013.
Mr. Biberaj came to his executive position at the iconic restaurant through his family’s real estate business. The Russian Tea Room has often been featured in pop culture, making appearances in shows ranging from When Harry Met Sally to Gossip Girl.