Queens for Quinn
Bucking his mentor but not the Queens Democratic establishment, Councilman Donovan Richards will officially endorse Councilwoman Christine Quinn for mayor later today.
The 30-year-old legislator cited Ms. Quinn’s work combating gun violence as a reason for his backing.
Thus far in the mayoral race, almost all of Bill de Blasio’s endorsements have come from the battleground borough of the Bronx, but today he is branching out to Queens, where State Senator James Sanders is joining the public advocate’s team.
In a statement, Mr. Sanders, whose district includes the Hurricane Sandy-ravaged Rockaways, touted Mr. de Blasio’s support in the aftermath of the storm.
As indictments of minority elected officials continue to pile up, some leaders have openly suggested, while offering scant evidence, that a conspiracy exists to remove blacks and Latinos from power. But U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, one of two federal prosecutors responsible for bringing many of the recent corruption charges, outright rejected any conspiracy theories last night.
It is a question few in the New York political establishment dare to ask publicly: is the seemingly endless string of indictments and arrests of elected officials a conspiracy against minorities in power?
But there was Queens State Sen. James Sanders Jr., bellowing in a theater with a preacher’s rhythm, more than implying last night that the recent arrests of black elected officials like Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, State Sen. Malcolm Smith and State Sen. John Sampson were not coincidental. Even State Sen. Shirley Huntley, who admitted to stealing funds earmarked for her district’s underprivileged children and was sentenced Thursday for her crimes, could have been linked to a conspiracy, Mr. Sanders said.
Ironically, Mr. Sanders defeated Ms. Huntley last year–after she was indicted–and took her seat in the State Senate.
Several days ago, State Senator James Sanders reacted to the news that his predecessor wore a wire in an attempt to reduce her corruption sentence, by criticizing her for “snitching.” Well, the New York Post didn’t take kindly to that, and this morning, the publication editorialized harshly against Mr. Sanders, claiming he “seems to be endorsing the crime-abetting law of street thugs.”
Mr. Sanders released a follow-up statement this afternoon taking exception to the Post‘s characterization. “Snitching,” Mr. Sanders wrote, was only in the context of entrapment, which he insisted the editorial missed.
Councilman Donovan Richards will likely hire his one-time electoral rival Pesach Osina next week.
“It’s an interesting time, you know, sort of like Barack and Hillary,” Mr. Richards, the winner of an incredibly tight special election in southeast Queens last month, told Politicker on Friday. “We heal quick. You know, I think Pesach would certainly be a great addition to my team. He will help unite the community and he’ll be a great asset. Don’t be surprised if he’s hired next week.”
Donovan Richards declared victory today in the Queens special election to replace his mentor, former Councilman James Sanders, putting to rest fears that the election’s outcome would be unknown for weeks or even months in what had become a racially-charged contest.
With all absentee and affidavit votes counted, Mr. Richards padded his razor-thin 26-vote Election Day margin with another 133 votes, while his main competitor, Pesach Osina, only gathered an additional 80. This brought the unofficial tally to 2,646 for Mr. Richards and 2,567 for Mr. Osina, a wide enough margin to avoid an automatic recount. The results will be certified next week.
One power broker in southeast Queens fears that the next City Council candidate to represent the 31st Council district will be a “young Jewish boy.”
In order to prevent Pesach Osina, an Orthodox Jewish former staffer to Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, from winning the election, Bishop Charles Norris, founder of the Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church, is urging some of the eight other candidates to step aside. The seat in the majority black district was left open when James Sanders was elected to the State Senate and next week’s special election to replace him has attracted a crowded field.
“The black vote would be split among the six or seven candidates,” Mr. Norris told Politicker yesterday. “Since Jews vote in a bloc, as they usually do—and there’s nothing wrong with that—the young Jewish boy in the Rockaways would win.”
Winds of Change
The February 19 special election to replace Councilman James Sanders continues to heat up, and one of the candidates, Donovan Richards, scored the influential endorsement of the labor-backed Working Families Party.
“A district that’s still badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy needs a champion for working families like Donovan Richards,” said Bill Lipton, the WFP’s deputy director in a statement, referencing the extensive devastation that occurred along the southeastern Queens coastline. “Donovan has fought gun violence and protected libraries, schools and hospitals from cuts and closure. He’ll be a tremendous addition to the City Council.”
A candidate for City Council in a Sandy-ravaged Far Rockaway district is running on a hurricane-themed party line. Selvena Brooks is filing petitions to get on the ballot under the name of the “Rebuild Now” party.