New York lawmakers and politicians are gathering in Puerto Rico this week for an annual political conference, including borough party leaders who are looking to regroup after Tuesday’s elections, as they look ahead to 2024.
All eyes are on the Bronx and Brooklyn, where party power and influence — or lack thereof — helped shape key outcomes in the city council.
What You Need To Know
- Bronx and Brooklyn leaders are going back to the drawing board in the wake of Tuesday's election results
- Political onlookers say the campaign of Democratic Councilwoman Marjorie Velázquez of Council District 13 was partially tanked thanks to a land use plan aimed at adding new units of affordable housing on Bruckner Boulevard
- In Brooklyn, Democratic Councilman Justin Brannan was openly attacked by Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn heading into the election — the top official in Brooklyn charged with electing Democrats
Although Democratic voter enrollment heavily outweighs that of Republicans in both counties, the Bronx lost a key city council seat to the GOP — and Justin Brannan, the chamber’s powerful finance chair, saw his reelection bid attacked by his own Democratic county chair, Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn.
Candidates running for office with the support of either the Bronx or Kings County Democrats are typically afforded special privileges in the form of influential endorsements or a fundraising pipeline. It gifts credibility to first time campaigners, but also shores up protection for incumbents from challengers.
Tuesday’s elections put a spotlight on this longtime structure — after Bronx Democrat Marjorie Velázquez lost her council seat to political newcomer, Republican Kristy Marmarato.
“It’s no secret that I have to bring up the Bruckner rezoning, the Throggs Neck community is a low-density district where there’s a certain level of density that has been allowed by local law and the Bruckner rezoning would shift that — and it was very contentious, very controversial,” Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, a Democrat, told NY1.
Political onlookers say her bid was partially tanked thanks to that land use plan, aimed at adding new units of affordable housing on Bruckner Boulevard — opposed by homeowners.
Velázquez opposed the project, before supporting its eventual passage.
Gibson said Democrats need to go back to the drawing board.
“There is a movement and republicans are gaining more ground. I think they’re using this as an opportunity to find districts where there are vulnerable candidates and vulnerable elected officials,” Gibson said.
In Brooklyn, Brannan was openly attacked by Bichotte Hermelyn heading into the election.
“I think there needs to be a significant change and accountability in the Brooklyn democratic party,” said Brooklyn’s Democratic Borough President Antonio Reynoso.
A vocal critic of so-called machine politics, Reynoso said Democrats can’t take elections for granted despite enrollment advantages. This is especially true when looking at southern Brooklyn, where three Democrat-held assembly seats were flipped last year.
Just weeks before Election Day, Bichotte Hermelyn complained about migrant shelters being placed in minority districts instead of areas with more white residents.
“The Democratic party was sent a clear message last night, and I think they’re asking: ‘Why is it that we’re losing elections and why is it that we’re hemorrhaging voters?’” said Ruben Diaz Jr., the former Democratic Bronx borough president.