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.
Thomas Lopez-Pierre, a candidate for an Uptown City Council seat who has been making a series of racially-charged arguments against one of his rivals in the race, Mark Levine, has taken things to a whole other level. In an email filled with racial slurs, expletives and violent rhetoric, Mr. Lopez-Pierre blasted Brian Benjamin, a real estate developer, for deciding “to pick Mark Levine the only White/Jewish guy in the race to raise money for.”
Mr. Lopez-Pierre went on to call Mr. Benjamin an “Uncle Tom” who by joining Mr. Levine’s campaign, “sold out the Black people of Harlem.”
The email was addressed to Mr. Benjamin and over 30 Uptown political figures, including Mr. Levine. Politicker has confirmed the email was sent from Mr. Lopez-Pierre’s address.
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.”
Last week, State Senator Adriano Espaillat’s campaign circulated a tough mailer against his primary opponent, Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, in which they accused Mr. Linares of “betraying” the community by backing Rep. Charlie Rangel over Mr. Espaillat’s bid to become the country’s first Dominican-American congressman earlier this year and for taking campaign contributions from special interests.
Mr. Rangel, a backer of Mr. Linares’ bid, is angry about the mailer. Really angry. So angry, he says, that he was motivated, in the spirit of the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, to condemn the controversial campaign literature in question. To that end, Mr. Rangel held a press conference where he gave a ten minute speech expressing his outrage.
A tipster sent The Politicker this photo of a campaign billboard for state senator and congressional hopeful Adriano Espaillat that features his face looming large over the University Heights Bridge on West 207th in Inwood.
We also obtained a bilingual mailer volunteers for Mr. Espaillat have been distributing in Washington Heights. Interestingly, Mr. Espaillat’s mailers portray his candidacy as a battle against “Tea Party Republicans,” the same strategy employed by his main opponent in the 13th district race, incumbent Congressman Charlie Rangel.
Recently, a Democratic club in Washington Heights held a meeting to endorse candidates in the local Congressional race. Afterwards, a group of reporters and some campaign staffers went out for beers at a nearby diner, Tu Sabor Latino. Once inside, they ran into a table full of volunteers working on the other major political campaign in the neighborhood—the race for a president of the Dominican Republic, between Danilo Medina and Hipólito Mejía, better known as Papá to his supporters.
Outside the diner, sirens flashed as the police escorted a motorcade carrying one of the Dominican presidential candidates up Broadway. It was a physical manifestation of a phenomenon that has long been familiar to Uptown politicos, in the upper reaches of Manhattan, local politicians can’t avoid bumping into the Dominican campaigns. (There is even a seat in the Dominican congress for a representative
from the U.S., such is the size of the ex-pat community.).
Every four years, the Dominican elections play out on the streets of Washington Heights and Inwood—with colorful signs, flags, trucks with speakers blasting Spanish songs and campaign slogans and personal appearances by the candidates. According to a 2005 study by CUNY’s Center for Latin American, Caribbean & Latino Studies, Dominicans make up over 53 percent of the population in the area, and many of the residents are dual citizens who also vote in their home country.