On the heels of federal fraud charges brought against Assembly Member Pam Harris (D), operatives across party lines are considering a run for the 46th Assembly district seat that includes Coney Island, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and small sections of Brighton Beach and Bath Beach.
While the embattled assembly member has not yet resigned from her position, the likelihood of her political career or freedom surviving 11 federal felony charges does not look promising.
Several contenders will dictate a colorful election. But should Harris resign, pushing a potential special election, then the new assembly member will likely be the offspring of a contentious battle between the two City Council members that share the assembly district–– Mark Treyger (D-Bensonhurst, Coney Island) and Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Bensonhurst).
Chris McCreight sits at the helm of Brannan’s clique. The newly appointed chief-of-staff to Brannan, who also co-founded the political club Bay Ridge Democrats, has lived in the assembly district for well over 10 years. He unsuccessfully challenged Treyger for district leader the same year Harris won her Assembly seat.
In response to questions about a possible bid to replace the assembly member, McCreight noted he is only a few days into his new position with Brannan –– but did not rule out a bid for the assembly seat.
The feuding factions were also on two different ends of the 46th assembly district 2015 special election when Treyger threw his support behind Harris while Brannan’s side is rumored to have secretly supported Kate Cucco.
Cucco did not respond to inquiries on a potential run, but the opportunity to avenge her 2015 loss has not escaped operatives who peg her as a potential candidate –– despite having a plush job at Maimonides Hospital and ties to Harris’ predecessor, ex-assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, who was indicted on running a pill mill shortly after leaving office.
It is unclear which ticket Cucco will run on, since the Coney Island Democratic District Leader Delia Schack threw her support behind Harris rather than Cucco during the primary. It is rumored that Schack made the decision to back Harris after Cucco unsuccessfully sought the Conservative line, which was ultimately given to former district leader and Harris’ general election opponent, Lucretia Regina-Potter (R).
It is unlikely that Regina-Potter will seek the Conservative line this time. Conservative Party Chair Jerry Kasar has been public about his disapproval of Regina-Potter in the form of his weekly column, once labeling the former district leader as a perennial candidate, despite having handed her the Conservative line in her race against Harris.
Regina-Potter remained critical of Harris’ not-for-profit throughout the election. She has yet to confirm a run for the seat.
“I can assure everyone one thing, whomever the designated Republican candidate may be, the Fiorello LaGuardia Republican Organization and I will play a very instrumental role in ensuring the Republican 46AD candidate is for the people and not a puppet of political party bosses,” said Regina-Potter. “We deserve better and we won’t be fooled again.”
State Sen. Marty Golden’s (R) Deputy Chief of Staff John Quaglione (R) who slimly lost to Brannan during last year’s city council race, said he has received calls asking him to run. Quaglione said he would likely throw his hat in the race if it came to a special election.
“I won the 46th district in both the primary and the general election, it would be silly if I didn’t consider [running], said Quaglione. “When you believe in a community and you have a track record of support in an area, you never close the door.”
Steve Saperstein (R) was less reserved about his intentions. The Republican who challenged Chaim Deutsche (D) for the 48th city council seat last year said he would run for the assembly seat.
“Yes, I am absolutely open to anything that will help the community and will take a serious look at running for the seat,” said Saperstein. “Since the news broke, I’ve received an outpouring of encouraging feedback from family, community leaders, neighbors and supporters looking for positive change.”
While Saperstein took 38.26 of the council district’s vote, which encompasses, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Homecrest and Midwood, only a sliver of Brighton Beach is included in the 46th Assembly District.
Talk surfaced about former City Councilmember Mike Nelson (D), who has roots that extend the entire assembly district. As a resident of Trump Village who works in Fort Hamilton and formerly governed the 48th district, Nelson is seen as an optimal candidate, sources said.
Nelson said he may be interested, but he is waiting to see how things line up.
The Rev. Khader El-Yateem (D), who lives on the edge of the district lines, but within the district, is also said to be eying the seat.
“The Rev. El-Yateem is out of the country visiting family right now,” said former Campaign Manager Kayla Santosuosso. “We are waiting to see how the situation develops, and will begin assessing when he returns later this month.”
Treyger spokesperson Aaron Hect said Treyger’s camp hasn’t aaproached the subject of a new candidate yet.