Self-professed progressive candidate Zellnor Myrie, challenger to current State Senator Jesse Hamilton (D-Central Brooklyn), has a not so democratic past.
Myrie, announced his candidacy earlier this month becoming the third candidate running for a state Senate position against Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) member, Hamilton. Myrie sites Hamilton’s membership in the IDC as a motivating factor for his candidacy, finding issue with the conference’s caucus with Senate Republicans.
However, the Brooklyn native is no newcomer to Republican policies, having previously worked as the Legislative Director for City Councilman Fernando Cabrera (D-Bronx) from 2010-2012, who is a former Republican, who now is considered one of the more conservative members of the liberal City Council.
In 2014, as reported in The Observer, Cabrera was found to have ties to The Family Research Council (FRC), a right-leaning organization that was labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law center. Additionally, Cabrera also participated in a 2012 FRC event, that included Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum at the time.
That same year, Cabrera also supported Uganda’s anti-gay laws, praising the leadership of Uganda that imposed lifetime jail sentences for some homosexual acts. The move garnered the Bronx Councilman criticism from State Senator Gustavo Rivera, who was being challenged by Cabrera for his seat at the time.
“We have a guy who is a Republican, changed his registration to Democrat just so he could run for office,” Mr. Rivera recently told The Norwood News in 2016. “He’s anti-choice, anti-woman, anti-LGBT and he takes money from right-wing hedge-funders who really give money to Republicans across the country.”
Myrie, was able to corroborate his employment with Cabrera, mentioning he didn’t always align with the Bronx Councilman’s legislative decisions.
“My values have never changed. I have always been a progressive, I have never been a Republican. When I worked with the Councilman, there were things we agreed on and things we disagreed on,” said Myrie.
Sources close to Hamilton also allege that Myrie served as a Voter Outreach Liaison for Mayor Bloomberg at a time when Bloomberg won the right to run for a third term in 2008. Bloomberg was also a Republican darling, running on the conservative ticket all three election cycles.
This allegation was shot down by Myrie who claims that he never worked for the Bloomberg administration instead holding a volunteer position with a community board in the Bronx that year.
“That is incorrect, I never worked for Bloomberg or was a Voter Liaison,” added Myrie.
Nonetheless, the connection could create problems for the young lawyer, who is committed to creating a fully Democratic Senate and getting progressive policies passed at the state level.
“You can’t get progressive policies without a Democratic Senate. The IDC-GOP is blocking necessary legislation like single payer healthcare, and other progressive measures that are vital to local communities,” said Myrie.
On the other hand, the IDC continues to support the reproductive rights of women and the freedom of people to choose their life partner.
“The IDC is the only 100 percent pro-choice and pro-LGBTQ conference in the New York State Senate,” said IDC Spokesperson Candice Giove.