Editor’s Note: KCP is a politically purple news site that favors ideas over ideology. It believes good (and bad) ideas for governing come from across the political spectrum where the two-party system wields the bulk of the power in this country.
The Brooklyn Republican Party: If election night figures hold up, the Brooklyn GOP picked up four seats in Southern Brooklyn including one congressional seat, one state senate seat and two assembly seats.
While all, but Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontus‘ seat in Coney Island were in competitive two-party districts, the GOP ran disciplined and effective targeted campaigns in Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis win over U.S. Rep. Max Rose; Vito Bruno’s win against State Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Michael Tannousis’ win over Brandon Patterson for Malliotakis’ vacated assembly seat.
To be sure, Democrats surely shot themselves in the foot in several of these races. Most notably, they became tone-deaf to their more blue-dog Democratic constituency in favor of the progressive left, which is sweeping through the city like Sherman’s Army.
“The progressives in the party are killing the mainstream Democrats and they have alienated many of these voters,” said lifelong Democrat and Coney Islander Ida Sanoff.
Sanoff said the progressive left with their protests and calls to defund the police had mainstream Democrats voting for Trump even if they didn’t like him.
“This should be a major wake-up call for the Democrats. For them to lose four seats in Brooklyn is inexcusable and they should be ashamed of themselves. They didn’t listen to the people they represent. They listened to the loudest voices but they weren’t that majority,” said Sanoff.
Still, major credit has to go to the GOP leadership, most notably to Nicholas Chamberas, who ran Bruno’s campaign from beginning to end with smarts and professionalism. It also must go to the Brooklyn GOP leadership for having a better read on the thinking of the electorate mainstream.
“As we have said before, one-party rule in NYC does not benefit constituents on the whole, and their policies were addressed by the voters yesterday,” said Brooklyn GOP Chair Ted Ghora on Nov. 4. “Rising crime, rising cost of living, and a significant reduction in quality life are basic issues that everybody, regardless of ideology or party, felt in a very real way the last two years. We feel very good about the results last night, and look forward to the counting off all valid votes cast in paper, and believe we will remain victorious when done.”
Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte: After gaining a well-earned reputation of backing and running campaigns for winners including Jumaane Williams for public advocate and Farah Louis for city council, Bichotte as of late has suffered a string of losses starting with the recent Democratic primary where longtime Assemblymembers Joe Lentol, Felix Ortiz and Walter Mosley were beaten by progressive and Democratic Socialist candidates.
In the Southern Brooklyn races, while she tweeted pictures of her helping to get the vote out in the district on election day, it was a day late and dollar short. The stunning loss of fellow Haitian-American Frontus in a predominately Democratic district looks especially bad.
Whether one agrees with Bichotte or not over her recent amendment not to hold a virtual county committee meeting for all members during the COVID-19 crisis, her decision to appeal the court decision two days before the general election was not good timing. She is now getting slammed from both the progressive left, and is losing confidence from the mainstream Dems, further weakening the party at the county level.
Bichotte is a survivor and enjoys a good political fight. That said, one description of the county chair job is to get people elected. Sher needs to pick up her game on this front.
Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon: Simon might just be the ticket for Bichotte to get back on the winning side if she supports her run for borough president next year.
The tight-lipped Simon is politically shrewd and walks the line well between the county powers that be, the mainstream and the progressives.
Simon, who comes out of the Independent Neighborhood Democratic club (IND), for example, backed Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright in her losing effort against DSA Candidate Jabari Brisport to replace retiring State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery this year, but she also gets along well with the anti-development crowd and progressives like the New Kings Democrats and U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez.
It also doesn’t hurt, she represents a well-monied downtown Brooklyn district, and while she is not a person of color, does check off the woman identity box, which is very important in politics these days.
City Councilman Justin Brannan: If the southern Brooklyn vote numbers hold up, Brannan (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach) will be surrounded by GOP electeds. This could make for a re-election dogfight next year.
Like Gounardes and Rose now should understand, the district does not go for loud progressive anti-cop and extreme left rhetoric. Brannan – rightfully or wrongfully could become a Republican scapegoat target for deteriorating quality of life issues that are creeping up across the city and in Bay Ridge including rising crime and business closures. That with the looming city fiscal crisis under the Democratic Party watch will increase his vulnerability.
In 2017, Brannan won a narrow victory over Republican John Quaglione. Both Brannan and Quaglione are well-liked and from the neighborhood. As things stand now, a rematch would make for a close election.
Winner & Loser
U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries: On the losing end, both the loss of Frontus in Coney Island, which Jeffries represents and Rose in the adjacent Congressional district is a blow. That coupled with Assemblyman Charles Barron‘s expected run for the city council against Jeffries ally former district leader Nikki Lucas has to hurt.
On the winning end, Jeffries, for all his anti-GOP rhetoric, is one of the few lawmakers who understand the value of and is able to work across the aisle to get things done. Jeffries, for example, played a major role in sponsoring criminal justice reforms that adversely impacted America’s Black community for years and in which Trump signed. This was a major piece of legislation.
Jeffries is also chair of the Democratic Congressional Caucus – the fourth most powerful leadership role within the Hosue Democratic Party. With the Democrats’ dismal role in losing as many as a dozen House seats in Tuesday’s election, there is blood in the water for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to step aside. If that comes to pass, Jeffries would be a leading candidate to replace her.
While progressives and the DSA are licking their lips for a chance to go after Jeffries in 2022, the congressman has a solid base and remains a politician on the rise.
Winner & Loser
Borough President Eric Adams: On the losing side, Gounardes before becoming state senator, worked in borough hall for Adams.
On the plus side, the Southern Brooklyn/Staten Island elections present a possible path for Adams to win next year’s mayoral election.
While Comptroller Scott Stringer and other mayoral candidates are tripping over themselves to become the progressive choice, Adams who is running for mayor but hasn’t officially announced yet, could present himself as a practical progressive that will also speak for the city’s silent majority.
If Adams, an ex-cop, can forge a coalition between the law-and-order constituency, argue he can manage the looming fiscal crisis and marry it to his solid Black base, this could be the winning combination for getting to city hall.