Manhattan Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh yesterday locked up near unanimous support – including from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio on down – to secure the Democratic nomination for the vacant 26th District Senatorial Seat covering lower Manhattan and Northern Brooklyn in the Nov. 7 general election.
The seat opened up last month when Sen. Daniel Squadron stepped down in the middle of his fifth two-year term.
The district is about 65% in Manhattan and 35% in Brooklyn, but with the Manhattan Democratic County Committee reportedly split among several candidates Kings County Democratic Party Boss Frank Seddio announced that all of Brooklyn’s county committee has thrown their support behind Kananagh, giving him the nomination.
“Brian Kavanagh has impressed his Brooklyn Assembly colleagues with his commitment to making government work for those who need it, whether mass transit riders, those who come in contact with our criminal justice system or tenants struggling to remain in their homes and their neighborhoods,” said Seddio. “When Democrats finally get together to take control of the chamber, we are confident he will serve his Brooklyn constituents effectively and progressively with honor and dignity.”
Kavanagh, who currently represents the 74th Assembly District in Lower Manhattan up to just beyond East 14th Street, first took office in 2007, and is considered a reform and progressive-mined Democrat. He went to Princeton as an undergraduate and became an attorney after attending New York University Law School.
“For 11 years in the Assembly, I have advocated for my constituents and stood up when government in Albany has failed to function as it should. As a State Senator, I will fight for the things that matter to New Yorkers: strengthening rent laws and preserving affordable housing, increasing access to quality schools, safeguarding the environment and ensuring our communities are resilient, promoting economic and social justice, preventing gun violence, and creating a fairer and more accessible political process,” said Kavanagh.
In making the announcement, Seddio also included words of praise and support from many in Brooklyn’s city, state and federal elected delegations, including from Congressmember Hakeem Jeffries, who served in the Assembly with Kavanagh before moving up to the House.
“These are indeed challenging times that demand dedicated public servants. Brian’s legislative record on a whole host of issues indicates he will serve the people of Brooklyn well and fight for what is right,” said Jeffries.
Others backing Kavanagh included Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and Assemblyman Joe Lentol, the borough’s longest serving member of the assembly.
Interestingly, also backing Kavanagh in the release was 52 District Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, and 52nd Assembly Democratic District Leaders Josh Skaller and Anne Swern – all of whom just last week called for an open transparent process and to put up a placeholder candidate until next year when there would be an open Democratic primary.
“We are happy to endorse Brian Kavanagh for Senate District 26. While we wish the process could have been more transparent and participatory, we believe Mr. Kavanagh to be an excellent match for the 52nd AD. He is a seasoned legislator with a long history of advocacy for election reform, public schools, affordable housing and the environment and the prevention of gun violence. We are confident that he can hit the ground running and look forward to working closely with him,” Simon, Skaller and Swern said in a statement.
De Blasio called Kavanagh far and away the best choice to represent the 26th Senate District, that he was proud to endorse him.
“For over a decade as a legislator, Brian has stood up to powerful interests time and again — from fighting gun violence and protecting tenants to pushing for critical reforms to make Albany more transparent and accountable to the people. Now more than ever, we need impassioned voices in Albany to challenge the status quo and advance the needs of the people of New York City. A proven reformer and a fierce defender of New York City, Brian Kavanagh is that leader,” said de Blasio.
Cuomo likewise endorsed Kavanagh, calling him a relentless advocate for all New Yorkers, working diligently to get illegal guns off the streets, protect the environment, and preserve affordable housing. “Now, as the next State Senator for Manhattan and Brooklyn, I know Brian will work with me to continue New York’s proud tradition as the progressive capital of our country. Brian has my full support,” said Cuomo.
About the only group of Democrats that didn’t jump on the bandwagon were the reform-minded New Kings Democrats (NKD) political club, who backed lower Manhattan District Leader Paul Newell. Newell reportedly beat Kavanagh in a 72-28 vote in the Manhattan County committee.
NKD President Anusha Venkataraman maintained in a release that the Brooklyn Democratic Party leadership made a mockery of the democratic process and disenfranchising County Committee members in the 26th State Senate District.
“Our clarion call for a fair and open process for nominating a candidate to replace Daniel Squadron has been ignored. This afternoon, members of the Manhattan Democratic County Committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of Paul Newell, a stalwart progressive reformer and District Leader in Lower Manhattan, putting him within a few points of the nomination. Yet Brooklyn party boss Frank Seddio intends to throw his weight behind another candidate, without allowing County Committee members within the district to vote,” said Venkataraman in the release.
The Brooklyn neighborhoods in the 26th Senate District include Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, the Columbia Waterfront, DUMBO, Downtown Brooklyn, Fulton Ferry, Greenpoint, the Navy Yard, Vinegar Hill, and Williamsburg.