Bed-Stuy Political Machine Puffs Chest, Karen Cherry Fears Not

Bed-Stuy Assembly Member Annette Robinson
Bed-Stuy Assembly Member Annette Robinson

Bedford-Stuyvesant Assemblywoman Annette Robinson, with a nod from City Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr., is likely to run for re-election so she can step down and hand pick her successor, a source told Kings County Politics.

The hand-picked successor is likely to be Vanguard Independent Democratic Organization (VIDA) Vice President Tremaine Wright, who if Robinson simply retired, would otherwise face a difficult Democratic Party primary this year with longtime community activist and political operative Karen Cherry.

Under special election rules, if a sitting assembly member steps down, the two local Democratic district leaders get to pick the Democratic Party choice to run. As Robinson and Cornegy – both executive members of VIDA- are the two Democratic District leaders they will likely pick Wright, who quietly has “waited her turn” and not run against Robinson two years ago.

Robinson came up politically with former Bed-Stuy political boss, Al Vann, and both played leadership roles in Brooklyn African-American civil rights issues in the 1970s, particularly in education. The both were also VIDA founding members.

Vann went on to get elected to the state assembly where he served  from 1975-2001. Robinson worked for several elected officials including former Congressman Major Owens and was elected to the City Council in 1991. When she was term-limited out in 2001, she swapped positions with Vann, and has been in the assembly since 2002.

Vann, who originally supported term limits, decided in 2009 that he wanted a third term, when former billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg threw his money and clout into changing the term limit law for that election. This lost Vann a good amount of political respect in the community and he narrowly won the third term with the help of Cornegy, who ran with Vann’s approval to widen the field.

City Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr
City Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr

Cornegy was rewarded with a plum city council job, and the full support of Vann and VIDA in the 2013 city council race, which he won by a razor thin margin after a long recount process.

Cherry, a lifelong community activist, who grew up in NYCHA’s Tompkins Houses, worked as a community liasson for Former Congressman Ed Towns and now works for Assemblyman Erik Dilan. She said she also heard of Robinson’s plans to run and hand the position to Wright.

“I don’t want to run against her (Robinson). I respect her too much. She’s like an aunt to me, but everyone wants to hear the truth and I’m not kissing the ring,” said Cherry. “If I’m not chosen then I’m not chosen. The only people I want to be chosen by is the community.”

Cherry said she will continue to fundraise and be ready to run whether Robinson retires this year or not. If there is a special election and Wright get the Democratic Party nod, Cherry said she will look at the Working Families Party or create her own party line if need be.

Meanwhile, Wright, who was not available for this post, has said privately that she plans to run whether Robinson seeks re-election or not, but that remains to be seen.


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