As the City Council’s growing Progressive Caucus sways the council speaker’s race, insiders are questioning whether their sizable bloc of Queens members will remain loyal to the caucus–or be picked off by their county leaders.
Members of the caucus have pledged to remain unified as they try to crown the city’s second-most powerful leader, even though they have yet to decide which candidate to support. But some wonder whether Queens Democrats–whose bloc vote has made them the most influential force in past speaker’s races–may stand in the way.
Law & Order
“I didn’t get up in the morning ready to go to jail,” Charlie Rangel told Politicker today.
“I went to speak to the throngs of people and to give them encouragement,” he said. “Some people recognized me and asked me if I would get arrested with them: ‘Why won’t you, are you with us?’ I thought there’d be enough younger people getting arrested rather than me but I couldn’t walk away.”
I Fought the Law and
New York Congressmen Charlie Rangel and Joe Crowley were among eight federal lawmakers reportedly arrested at an immigration reform rally in Washington D.C. earlier this evening.
When the Queens Democratic Party announced it would be endorsing Councilwoman Tish James in the runoff election for public advocate, the crowd suddenly got much smaller.
The Queens Democratic Party is famously unified, as their endorsement tends to come along with most of the county’s elected officials. For former Councilwoman Melinda Katz’s borough president campaign, which was backed by the Democratic organization last month, this has proven to be the case yet again–with a slew of new endorsements announced today.
Current Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez declared their support for the Katz campaign, along with former borough president candidate and State Senator José Peralta, State Senator James Sanders, Assemblywoman Vivian Cook and Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubrey.
When arguably the most powerful county organization in New York City, the Queens Democratic Party, endorsed Christine Quinn for mayor, political observers believed it was a coup for Ms. Quinn because Queens’s famously loyal elected officials would quickly back the Council speaker. But since party chairman Joe Crowley announced he was supporting Ms. Quinn on May 20, few Queens elected officials have followed suit.
“They’ve been surprised by the lukewarm reception for Quinn,” said one Queens Democratic operative, unaligned with any candidate. “Especially considering only three district leaders dissented at her endorsement.”
State Senator José Peralta will end his campaign for Queens borough president and endorse former Councilwoman Melinda Katz, a source close to the Peralta campaign told Politicker Friday.
“Senator Peralta made an important contribution to the race for borough president as a tireless advocate for immigrant communities and local economic development and job growth,” said Rep. Joe Crowley, the chair of the Queens Democratic Party, in a statement. “Fortunately, he will continue fighting the good fight in the state Senate and wherever else his insight and determination are needed. I look forward to continuing to work with him on legislation and projects to help make our communities stronger.”
When the Queens Democratic Party rolled out its endorsements this morning in Forest Hills, one notable demographic, African Americans, was left without a major candidate. Indeed, Queens’ black political establishment looked on with disappointment as their favored candidates for mayor, borough president and public advocate were passed over for rivals.
Congressman Joe Crowley, the party chair, endorsed Council Speaker Christine Quinn for mayor and former Councilwoman Melinda Katz for borough president. While a vast majority of district leaders voiced their approval, Elmer Blackburne and several other black district leaders dissented, indicating that instead they would support Bill Thompson, the former comptroller, who is also black. Ms. Quinn and Ms. Katz are white.
king of queens
The Queens County Democratic Party is expected to endorse Councilman Leroy Comrie for borough president next week, according to four sources plugged into various sides of the race.
The sources–some of whom were disappointed in the decision–told Politicker that Congressman Joe Crowley, the head of the borough’s Democratic organization, will probably endorse Mr. Comrie to balance his leadership position in one of the most demographically diverse counties in the country.
Earlier this evening, outspoken Councilman Peter Vallone officially launched his campaign for campaign for Queens Borough President. And, standing before an incredibly packed Greek restaurant in Astoria, both Mr. Vallone and his supporters made sure everyone was fully aware of the self-described conservative Democrat’s independent streak.
“He was able to stand up to the Speaker when she was trying to bully him,” said Norman Seabrook, the President of the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association who officially endorsed Mr. Vallone today. “Can you imagine what he would do as borough president when given the opportunity to step forward, not only for the people in this room, but this borough? He is truly a man indicative of being able to become one of the greatest of all time.”