Today’s news:

Crowded field of candidates down to 10

And then there were 10. Challenges upheld by the New York City Board of Elections at the end of last month have reduced the number of candidates in the race to fill the vacant seat in the 40th Councilmanic District, with a scant three weeks remaining until the February 20th special election. Dropped from the ballot were Mozell Albright, Gerry Hopkins and Ferdinand Zizi, narrowing the field slightly. The remaining candidates are Mathieu Eugene, Karlene Gordon, Jesse Hamilton, Jennifer James, Zenobia McNally, Mohammad “Moe” Razvi, Harry Schiffman, Wellington Sharpe, Joel Toney and Leithland “Rickie” Tulloch, all of whom hope to snag the seat once held by Yvette Clarke, who moved on to Congress on January 1st. Such a wide field makes it more difficult for any one candidate to emerge as a favorite, noted one political insider. Thus, candidates are relying on endorsements from elected officials and unions, and get-out-the-vote operations to put them over the top in an election that some estimate could be won with as few as between 600 and 1,500 votes in one candidate’s column. Most of the elected officials from the area have made endorsements. Yvette Clarke and her mother, Una Clarke (who held the seat before her), have come down in Eugene’s camp. City Councilmember Kendall Stewart is backing Sharpe. Sharpe also has the support of two out-of-area electeds: City Councilmembers Lew Fidler and Domenic Recchia. One of the earliest endorsements came from Assemblymember Rhoda Jacobs, who is supporting Tulloch. Another early endorsement came from City Councilmember Charles Barron, who backed Hopkins (who is off the ballot, as of this writing). The most recent endorsement from an elected official was for James, with State Senator Kevin Parker coming out for her at a press conference where ACORN Executive Director Bertha Lewis also announced the advocacy group’s support for James’ candidacy. In the meantime, other endorsements have also been coming in. Hamilton got the backing of DC 37, not surprisingly, since he has been a DC 37 member for 21 years, and McNally received the endorsement of the Lambda Independent Democrats (LID). While the field is large, the race resembles, “A very traditional Democratic primary,” noted Parker. Given the short period of time for campaigning, he added, victory, “Is really about name recognition and about the ability to have an operation. Door to door wins the war,” Parker added. His backing for James, Parker went on, reflects the reality that she has put together a top-notch team, headed up by former Deputy Mayor Bill Lynch and had raised a great deal of money. It also reflects, he said, his belief that she will be able to bring a “progressive voice” to city government. “I wasn’t trying to get someone I could run. I want someone I can partner with,” Parker said. In the meantime, LID President Gary Parker praised McNally in a written statement. “She will provide leadership on the issues of importance to LGBT constituents as well as leadership on important policy issues like affordable housing and education, he said. “She is the right candidate to follow Yvette Clarke’s advocacy for Caribbean New Yorkers and all Brooklynites.” While most area elected officials have announced support for one candidate or another, Assemblymember Nick Perry has stayed out of the fray. “This is not my cup of tea,” he noted during a phone interview. “I don’t want to be in conflict with the congresswoman I helped elect.” In addition, he said, “I have so many I consider friends and acquaintances running that I think the wise and prudent thing to do is not get in the face of your friends. “I am saving my endorsement for the big race in September,” Perry added, a reference to the fact that whoever emerges victorious later this month will hold the seat only until the end of this year. He or she will have to run again in a Democratic primary in September, with petitioning beginning in June, as well as in a general election in November.

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