Upper Manhattan’s Barack Obama Democratic Club voted last night on its endorsements, and the list might surprise you. The home club of City Councilman Robert Jackson and City Council candidate Mark Levine, a long-time ally of State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, gave its nods to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio for mayor and City Councilwoman Letitia James for public advocate.
It also voted to endorse Mr. Jackson for Manhattan borough president and–unsurprisingly–Mr. Levine for the 7th District council seat, currently held by the term-limited Mr. Jackson.
New Club on the Block
New York City’s first Muslim club is looking to have an impact on the mayor’s race. And organizers of the group, the Muslim Democratic Club of New York, cited current Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policies–notably, the city police department’s controversial Muslim surveillance efforts–as a key motivating factor as they seek to ensure his successor follows a new path.
“The mayor has been a problem for this community,” one club leader, Ali Najmi, told Politicker. “We want to send a message to City Hall that the next mayor needs to treat us differently.”
Assemblyman Dov Hikind held a press conference in front of his home this afternoon responding to the uproar over a story that first appeared on Politicker today about his “black basketball player” Purim costume. In front of a small crowd of reporters, Mr. Hikind apologized that people were “offended” and reiterated his initial defense that the getup, which consisted of an orange jersey, brown face paint, an afro wig and sunglasses was merely a costume to celebrate the Jewish Purim holiday. However, even after Mr. Hikind addressed the firestorm, several members of the City Council sent letters to the Assemblyman arguing his apology did not go far enough.
“Anyone who was offended by the outfit that I was wearing on Purim yesterday … it was not meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone in any fashion,” Mr. Hikind began. “That is not what I am all about for the past 31 years in pub office and before that.”
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.”
Over the weekend, Thomas Lopez-Pierre, an uptown activist who has been running a Council campaign characterized by a series of angry, racially charged emails sent another missive endorsing Robert Jackson, the man he’s trying to replace. Mr. Jackson is prevented by term limits from running for re-election to his council seat and is instead pursuing the Manhattan borough presidency. However, Mr. Jackson is clearly not eager to have Mr. Lopez-Pierre’s endorsement.
“We totally reject Thomas Lopez-Pierre. Throughout his life, Robert Jackson has been a leader fighting for justice and understanding and against bigotry and intolerance,” Richard Fife, Mr. Jackson’s spokesman, said in a statement. “He has condemned the racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic rants of Lopez-Pierre in the strongest way possible.”
levine la vida loca
Mark Levine, a Democratic district leader campaigning for the seat held by outgoing Councilman Robert Jackson, is flexing his political muscles even as attention in the race has shifted to the racially-charged epithets used against him and his supporters. Indeed, this morning Mr. Levine announced he has received the formal endorsements of three notable elected officials on the northern side of Manhattan: Congressman Jerry Nadler, State Senator Adriano Espaillat and Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito.
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.”
Thomas Lopez-Pierre, a Harlem activist with a controversial past who is running for term-limited Councilman Robert Jackson’s seat, circulated an email late last night in an attempt to plan a “private meeting” to “discuss the potential damage to the political empowerment of the Black and Hispanic community if Mark Levine, a White/Jewish candidate was elected to the 7th Council District in 2013.” This morning, Mr. Lopez-Pierre told Politicker he isn’t organizing the meeting himself and is working on behalf of a larger group who became concerned when they read a report on the political blog The Perez Notes that the Upper Manhattan political machine headed by State Senator Adriano Espaillat and Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez has been working to “clear” the crowded field of candidates running for the seat to help Mr. Levine win.
“Now that he actually has a chance to win it’s scaring people,” said Mr. Lopez-Pierre. “So, what started first as a discussion of the blog post has now mushroomed among candidates and community leaders into basically a ‘Stop Levine’ campaign.”
The United Federation of Teachers is set to hand West Harlem City Councilman Robert Jackson their most prestigious honor at their annual spring conference.
The award–the John Dewey Award for Excellence in Education–has also been conferred upon such luminaries as Bill Clinton and Martin Luther King, but it may have more some immediate political relevance.
Mr. Jackson is the chair of the City Council’s education committee, but he is also locked in a tight race for Manhattan borough president, and it is a race that a powerful union like the UFT could play a large role in.
At today’s City Council hearing on the co-location of public and private schools, Councilwoman Tish James declared she was in the room to “advocate” as she walked in.
“Tish James said that she is ‘advocating’ here, indicating that she may be running for Public Advocate,” the head of the education committee, Councilman Robert Jackson, joked later, referencing her public campaign for the citywide office.