The ink has barely dried in Assemblywoman Pamela Harris (D-Coney Island, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights) resignation letter and already a cadre of candidates, with former City Council Member Vincent Gentile leading the way, are popping up to replace the embattled lawmaker.
Harris, who facing up to 30 years in prison on felony fraud and corruption charges, resigned yesterday after she gave a letter to Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie (D-Bronx) writing that “recent events interfere with my ability to continue to effectively represent my constituents,” as the Times first reported.
Harris was elected in a 2015 special election, in a 46th Assembly district seat has long been contentious in that Bay Ridge and Coney Island are socio-economically and racially different, and were gerrymandered together made contiguous by a strip of the Belt Parkway. The Bay Ridge/Dyker Heights end of the district has about 60 percent of the voters, which made Harris the first black elected official in Brooklyn, who represented a majority white district.
Nevertheless, the special election resulted in a strain between two Democratic warring factions. On one side is City Council Member Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Gravesend) and on the other side was the Bay Ridge Democrats, which City Council Member Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach) founded.
Brannan is Gentile’s former chief of staff, and Treyger is Assembly Member Bill Colton’s (D-Bensonhurst, Bath Beach) former legislative aide. Colton and Gentile have long been political adversaries.
When Harris’ predecessor, former Assembly Member Alec Brooke-Krasny stepped down in the middle of his term that lead the special election, most Bay Ridge Democrats supported Brooke-Krasny’s former chief of staff Kate Cucco, who ran on a ticket with Brannan’s current Chief of Staff Chris McCreight running for the unpaid Democratic district leader seat.
Treyger successfully supported Harris for the assembly seat and ran on the same ticket as the Democratic District Leader, a position he now holds along with being the City Councilman.
But with Harris’ indictment, Treyger has become vulnerable for both his district leadership seat and control of the assembly seat.
Thus several Bay Ridge Democratic sources confirmed that Gentile, who was term-limited out of office and unsuccessfully ran in the recent Brooklyn District Attorney race, is interested in running for Harris’ 46th Assembly District seat.
Bay Ridge sources say Gentile might make a good fit as he is familiar with state politics, having served in the state senate from 1997-2002. However, other sources say Gentile is too much of a Bay Ridge candidate and would not serve the needs of Coney Island residents fairly.
In this case, sources say McCreight is a better fit as a candidate from the Bay Ridge part of the district in that he has worked and campaigned in the Coney Island end of the district and is better tempered to represent both ends of the district.
Bay Ridger Andrew Gounardis, who is officially challenging State Sen. Marty Golden for his senate seat is also rumored to be looking at the assembly seat.
On the Coney Island end of the district, Treyger’s former legislative director and chief of staff Ethan Lustig-Elgrablyis strongly considering a run.
Lustig lives in Coney Island, and if he decides to run, will likely get the support of Tryger. Female District Leader Dilia Schack, who runs the Coney Island-based Shorefront Democratic Club, said she currently likes two and possibly three people for the assembly seat including former City Council Member Mike Nelson who lives in Trump Village on the Coney Island/Brighton Beach border.
Also in contention from the Coney Island Side is community activist Mathylde Frontus.
On the Republican side, sources say Nicholas Chamberas, a former legislative aide and campaign manager for Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis‘s run for mayor, is looking at the seat. Chamberas is a more moderate Republican as is Steve Saperstein, the former GOP candidate against City Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who is also eyeing the assembly seat.
Other possible Republican candidates include Lucretia Regina-Potter and former State Sen. David Storobin, who currently doesn’t not live in the district.
The state primary is Sept. 13 and the general election is Nov. 6.