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In the 52nd, Owens, Simon win big over machine; Restler edges out Cohn; Montgomery, Millman, Towns cruise to victory

As the Brooklyn Paper put it No surprises at all in local primaries, but that's a little premature.

In the 50th Assembly District, Lincoln Restler won a narrow victory (according to his Facebook update) for Male District Leader/State Committee over Warren Cohn, son of the longtime officeholder and the candidate supported by Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Vito Lopez. (Lopez challenger Esteban Duran lost.)

What do District Leaders do in their unpaid positions? Serve as liaisons between the community and elected officials, select the Brooklyn Democratic Party Leader, determine the slate of Democratic Judicial Candidates, and endorse candidates for local office.

Because they can raise campaign funds, District Leaders are essentially on the farm team for future elective office.

In the 52nd District: Owens and Simon

Despite endorsements and robo-calls from Borough President Marty Markowitz and 33rd District Council Member Steve Levin, and a slew of mailings, the two machine candidates for District Leader in the 52nd Assembly District, Hope Reichhbach and Steve Williamson, lost big.

According to the Brooklyn Paper, the results were:
Chris Owens, 2,154 (50 percent)
Jesse Strauss, 1,361 (32 percent)
Stephen Williamson, 771 (18 percent)

Jo Anne Simon, 2,645 (63 percent)
Hope Reichbach, 1,657 (37 percent)

Given that Levin won his district with a majority of votes in Williamsburg, which is not part of the 52nd District, it was an uphill battle for Williamson and Reichbach against candidates from Brownstone Brooklyn.

One source of suspense was whether Jesse Strauss, who ran with Simon, both endorsed by the Independent Neighborhood Democrats, would split the reform vote with Owens sufficiently to let Williamson prevail.

That was not to be, as Owens, who has more name recognition due to longer service and his 2006 race for Congress (in which he was the candidate against Atlantic Yards), relied on the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID) and other endorsements.

(He got a last-minute endorsement from the Brooklyn Paper, which, after I chided them for not guiding voters in the print edition, issued endorsements online on Monday. Not that I'm saying there's a connection.)

Owens: anti-Atlantic Yards spirit helped

CBID First VP Raul Rothblatt shot the video below, in which Owens said an anti-Atlantic Yards spirit helped him win.

"When I saw people today at [PS] 282," Owens said. "People were coming not in large numbers... but they were coming, clearly looking to do something different. They stood there with Steve Levin, the Councilman, earnestly talking to them, and they earnestly listened to Steve Levin. And they earnestly listened to Ashley, who is one of Steve Levin's staff members, who was there, talking about Hope and Williamson. And then they walked over to me and said, Tell me why you should be the one. And I said, Because we've got to shape things up, and you're looking at basically people who will do the same things over and over again, only with a little bit more money. If we're going to do something very different, you've got to get someone who both has experience and who has the guts to be a nut."

"This is victory not just for me as a candidate," he continued. "This is a CBID victory. This is a statement that a progressive organization touting progressive values not only resonates in a part of Brooklyn but can actually deliver votes. And it's a statement that we understand strategically how to win an election. We out-covered them, we out-hustled them, we out-literatured them. But we clearly outfought them in terms of where we thought this battle was going to take place. They were blown away at 282 and PS 9 and 321.... I said, This is an area that hated Atlantic Yards. This is an area that clearly has always stood up for Major Owens and progressive values. This is an area that's looking for somebody to say, c'mon, keep it going, and you guys aren't it, down in Brooklyn Heights. We are it. CBID is it. This is the part of the 52nd that's been waiting to have its voice heard for real."

Legislative races

In other contested races, according to the Brooklyn Paper, incumbents easily prevailed.

In the 18th Senatorial District, veteran Velmanette Montgomery won by a nearly 4-1 margin over challenger Mark Pollard (an attorney and political newcomer), who relied on funds from charter school supporters. Maybe now we'll find out who paid for several of her mailings.

(The other two state Senators targeted by charter school advocates, Bill Perkins of Manhattan and Shirley Huntley of Queens, also prevailed, though Huntley's opponent, Lynn Nunes, received several endorsements.)

In the 52nd Assembly District, incumbent Joan Millman beat challenger Doug Biviano (who ran for City Council last year) by a 3-1 margin.

In the 10th Congressional District, veteran Rep. Ed Towns beat challenger Kevin Powell (former "Real World" star, writer and speaker) by a 2-1 margin. Look for a spirited primary when Towns finally decides to retire.


  1. Mr. Pollard certainly wouldn't call himself a "political newcomer," since he's been a member of political clubs for years and sits on Community Board 3. He's also started to run for office several times only to drop out of the races early. Just last year he tried this with Al Vann.
    What he can be characterized as is an unsuccessful candidate who made the serious mistake of opposing an experienced, successful and very well loved state senator at the behest of money trying to score points. The Charter School HedgeHogs were very much the bigger losers than Pollard last night. But Pollard's willingness to be their puppet and front man may have finished his political possibilities for good.


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