Clarke Hosts Re-Election Launch to Reinvigorate Voters, Donors and Constituents


U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Park Slope) and her campaign held a “Re-Election Announcement Party” on Sunday at the Island Seas Lounge, 1440 Utica Avenue in East Flatbush with a host of constituents and local leaders.

“I know my work is not done,” she said. “There is a lot that I’d like to see happen for this community and we are just on the verge, because like I said, Donald Trump is not going to be in office forever, he may be out sooner than later. We have to be ready on the ground floor to make sure we move our agenda, a new agenda, for this nation that includes people that look like us assembled in this room.”

U. S. Rep. Yvette Clarke says work still needs to be done at her re-election launch party. Photo by Amanda Salazar

The party gave local politicians an opportunity to speak on the congresswoman’s behalf and members of the district an opportunity to get to know Clarke a little better.

Beyond that, it was a chance to reinvigorate her supporters, as Clarke’s seat — which she has held for seven consecutive terms — is being contested in the Democratic primary by Adem Bunkeddeko, Lutchi Gayot, Alexander Hubbard, Isiah James and Councilmember Chaim Deutsch (D-Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Homecrest, Trump Village, Luna Park, Brightwater Towers, Midwood).

In the general election, Clarke — who is the only black female U.S. Rep. for New York since Shirley Chisholm in the 80s — or whoever wins against her will have to run against independent Joel Anabilah-Azumah.

“[The other candidates running] need to get on the ground and make sure they are touching lives before they step up to want to represent interests,” Clarke said. “I know where my interests lie, I was born and raised in this district. I’ve lived in this district all my life, on the same block all my life, in the same house my parents brought me home to when I was born.”

The party centered around speeches given by the politicians of the area and culminated in the screening of Clarke’s re-election campaign video and the unveiling of a portrait painted of her by artist TL Duryea.

Other notable attendees of the event were Clarke’s mother, Una Clarke, a former city council member and a current member of the CUNY Board of Trustees, and CUNY University Student Senate Chairperson Timothy Hunter, who came as a constituent of the 9th District.

Fifty-fifth District Assemblymember Latrice Walker (D-Brownsville, Bedford Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Cyrus Hill, Ocean Hill, East New York, Flatbush, Bushwick) was the first up to speak.

“People talk all the time about black women in politics, how we are the bedrock of the Democratic party — it’s her they’re talking about,” she said after bringing up that Clarke is the only African American woman representing New York State in Congress. “I’m sorry, people talk about standing up and fighting against Donald Trump, who’s fighting for the issues of black women? Her.”

City Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel (D-Brownsville, East Flatbush, Crown Heights, Bedford Stuyvesant) followed up Walker’s emotional and vibrant speech to similar applause.

“So, I just want to say to you, my Congresswoman, my sister . . . that I’m here to build with you, I’m here to organize with you, I’m here to support you, so let’s just get this win,” she said.

From left to right are former City Councilwoman Dr. Una Clarke, her daughter U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke and Assemblywoman Diana Richardson. Photo by Amanda Salazar

This sentiment was shared by Assemblymember Diana Richardson (D-Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Lefferts Gardens).

“If we don’t have people who have our shared experiences, who know our stories, who know our communities, advocating on our behalf, I don’t know what’s going to happen to Central Brooklyn,” she said.  “When we’re standing here rallying for Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, and you my sister Assemblywoman Latrice Walker speak and you look at all of us who she has touched and sown into, you know we are standing before greatness.”

After the set of speeches, food was served, with the line to get a plate snaked out of the party room and into the main room of the restaurant.

Following this break, Councilmember Robert Cornegy (D-Bedford-Stuyvesant, Northern Crown Heights) and candidate for borough president, spoke a little and introduced Clarke’s re-election campaign video, which was projected onto the wall. After the screening of the campaign video, the new portrait of Clarke was unveiled and mounted next to Duryea’s painting of Chisholm.

“I know for a fact that this Congresswoman has always articulated the immediate needs of people in our communities,” Cornegy said. “We don’t want somebody guessing what we need, we want somebody knowing exactly what we need and representing us, so that’s why I came all the way from Bed Stuy to make sure that she understands that this borough has her back.”

Notably missing from the event was County Leader /Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and City Councilmember Farah Louis (D- East Flatbush, Flatbush, Flatlands, Marine Park, Midwood).

Bichotte’s 42nd Assembly District is the core of Clarke’s 9th Congressional District. And her and Louis’ influence within the Haitian-American Community could be a critical swing vote in this primary.

The primary election is slated for June 23.