South Brooklyn Politics: Tong Enters Race For Gentile’s Seat

Nancy Tong
Democratic District Leader Nancy Tong

Nancy Tong, the female Democratic District Leader of the 47th Assembly District, and the borough’s first and only Asian-American elected official, announced today she is jumping into the vacant 43rd District City Council race.

Term-limited City Councilman Vincent Gentile currently holds the seat, which covers Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and parts of Bensonhurst and Bath Beach.

In a short press release written in the third person narrative and without any Tong quotes, but sent from a reliable source, it was noted that Tong came to the decision after considerable thought and that as an [unpaid] Democratic District Leader she is limited to what she’s able to do for individuals living in Brooklyn.

Tong currently works as the community relations director for Assemblyman Bill Colton, who is her mentor, much the same as he mentored neighboring City Council Member Mark Treyger (Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Bath Beach). She is also Co-President of the United Progressive Democratic (UPD) Club, one of the more active Democratic clubs in Brooklyn.

Tong entering the race could be a serious challenge to early Democratic frontrunner Justin Brannan, whose Bay Ridge Democratic Club is in the heart of the district, and who has already raised a hefty $57,000.

Tong should be able to match or even raise more money than Brannan through a network of Asian-American supporters and others. She will also bring the muscle of the Colton machine that includes Treyger, male Democratic District Leader Charlie Ragusa, Coney Island/Bay Ridge Assemblywoman Pamela Harris and the UPD club.

Justin Brannan

A Brennan-Tong matchup will also be something of a proxy rematch in which Treyger beat Bay Ridge Democrats President Chris McCreight in a hard-fought battle for the Democratic District leader seat in the adjacent 46th Assembly District of Coney Island and Bay Ridge.

Anecdotally, KCP has seen Tong at numerous Democratic Party events and holiday parties in the past few months.

Incidentally, Colton’s machine also extends north into Sunset Park, which has the largest Asian-American constituency in the borough. Here, Attorney Delvis Valdez is expected to challenge City Councilman Carlos Menchaca. Rumors have it that Assemblyman Felix Ortiz is also considering running against Menchaca or backing former City Council Member Sara Gonzalez to run again.

A Colton endorsement and throwing his weight behind any of these candidates could make the Menchaca race interesting.

Also said to be jumping into the race for Gentile’s seat on the Democratic side is District Leader Kevin Peter Carroll, while Assemblyman Peter Abbate remains in unreachable thought on whether he will run or not.

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