An election with 17 candidates, after 31 aspirants expressed interest and campaigned, and a comparatively short three months of campaigning. Triggered by Tish James’s November election as New York State attorney general and resulting resignation as public advocate, the public advocate special election was, for New York, a unique electoral experience. Held with an unprecedented number of candidates and the absence of established party designations or nominations it was New York City’s first citywide special election. Candidate forums were the predominant public campaign activity, with several dozen held around the city by a wide range of civic and political groups. Our gallery has moments from the start to finish – take a look.
The National Action Network hosted a public advocate candidate forum, drawing 12 candidates to its House of Justice in Harlem. The Rev. Al Sharpton made opening remarks and introduced the candidates but did not moderate or attend the forum. Candidates participating included Ydanis Rodriguez, Ben Yee, Jumaane Williams, Manny Alicandro, David Eisenbach, Tony Herbert, Nomiki Konst, Dawn Smalls, Ron Kim, Danny O’Donnell, Melissa Mark-Viverito and Michael Blake.
Harlem’s Frederick Samuel Democratic Club drew four candidates to a Harlem public advocate candidate forum co-sponsored by the Michelle Obama Community Democratic Club. Danny O’Donnell, Dawn Smalls, Jumaane Williams and Michael Blake spoke separately, with Manhattan Democratic Chairman Keith Wright moderating. The Frederick Samuel Club and Wright previously endorsed O’Donnell.
Five local civic groups, Hearts Across Queens, Hunters Point Civic Association, Long Island City Coalition, PrimedOutNYC and Sunnyside Woodside Action Group, hosted a public advocate candidate forum at the Irish Center in Long Island City. Candidates participating included Ben Yee, Danny O’Donnell, David Eisenbach, Dawn Smalls, Jumaane Williams, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Michael Blake, Nomiki Konst, Rafael Espinal and Ron Kim. Ify Ike, previously a candidate but unsuccessful in getting on the February 26th ballot, also participated. Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who previously endorsed Jumaane Williams, was the only non-candidate elected official to attend.
The first televised debate among public advocate candidates featured 10 contestants in an Errol Louis-moderated slugfest and a protest by one of the six candidates excluded from the debate. The debate was hosted and televised by NY1.
The Powhatan and Pocahontas Democratic Club and the Taminent Regular Democratic Club co-hosted a public advocate candidate forum that drew ten candidates to Astoria on a bitterly cold night. Candidates attending included Ron Kim, Danny O’Donnell, Dawn Smalls, Jumaane Williams, Jared Rich, Ydanis Rodriguez, Michael Blake, David Eisenbach, Nomiki Konst and Rafael Espinal.
Neither club endorsed a candidate at the forum and it’s my understanding that neither club intends to endorse in the race. Of the elected officials attending the forum, Council Member Costa Constantinides has endorsed Nomiki Konst and NYS Senator Michael Gianaris and Assembly Member Aravella Simotas each said that they have not endorsed in the race and are uncertain whether they’ll do so.
Who are they? Here’s a photo gallery of the public advocate candidates to help you get to know them. We published an early photo gallery featuring 21 prospective candidates, and the group later rose to 31. We’ve ended up with a reduced, though still quite large, field of 17.
The Board of Elections set the final ballot at a hearing Tuesday, ruling on the validity of several candidates contested petitions. 17 candidates were approved and will be on the ballot, although not all willingly. Assembly Member Latrice Walker’s campaign attorney said that despite having submitted sufficient petitions and qualifying for the ballot Walker does not intend to campaign and unsuccessfully sought to have her removed from the ballot. We’ve included Walker in our photo gallery.
The Stonewall Democratic Club endorsed Assembly Member Danny O’Donnell for public advocate Wednesday night, choosing to support the first openly gay man elected to the New York State Assembly. Former Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Assembly Member Michael Blake also energetically sought the endorsement, with Mark-Viverito speaking at the endorsement meeting and Blake addressing the club via face time as he rode the train from Albany to New York City after an Assembly session.
Council Member Jumaane Williams also appeared in person at the endorsement meeting but conceded in his opening remarks that he was unlikely to win the endorsement. He faced questions on both having contributed money to candidates seen as anti-LGBTQ and on past positions on several issues, including bans on “conversion therapy” and not supporting GENDA.
The Rev. Al Sharpton drew a large contingent of elected officials to his annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at National Action Network’s House of Justice. Headliners included U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Reps. Jerry Nadler, Hakeem Jeffries, Yvette Clarke and Carolyn Maloney. NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Council Speaker and Acting Public Advocate Corey Johnson, NYS Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and NYS Senate Temporary President and Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins also spoke.
Several of the public advocate candidates participated, including Assembly Members Latrice Walker, Michael Blake and Danny O’Donnell, Council Members Jumaane Williams and Rafael Espinal, former Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Dawn Smalls. Walker, Blake, O’Donnell and Smalls were given speaking slots. Former mayor David Dinkins and former congressman Charles Rangel appeared, sitting onstage in the front row for the full program.
A large group of East Side Democratic clubs hosted a public advocate candidate forum Thursday night, drawing 13 aspiring advocates and an audience of 150-200 people to the New York New Church on East 35th Street.
Candidates participating included Ify Ike, Nomiki Konst, Dawn Smalls, Rafael Espinal, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Danny O’Donnell, Latrice Walker, Jumaane Williams, Michael Blake, Ben Yee, Ron Kim, David Eisenbach and Theo Chino. Gwen Goodwin attended part of the forum and was introduced by the moderators, but did not participate or address the audience. Sponsoring clubs included the Eleanor Roosevelt Club, Four Freedoms Club, Tilden Democrats, GSID, East River Democrats, Village Independent Democrats, Chelsea Democrats and Manhattan Young Democrats.
New terms, lots of candidates, fiercely fought elections, victories and defeats both surprising and not. Lots happened in 2018 New York politics and we’ve distilled the year into our 2018 Year in Photos.
The Sojourner Truth Democratic Club and the NYC Black and Latino LGBTQ Coalition co-hosted a public advocate candidate forum, drawing 13 candidates to the Fifth Avenue Social Adult Day Center at 112th Street and Fifth Avenue.
The Bay Ridge Democrats hosted a public advocate candidate forum, drawing a steady stream of aspiring advocates eager to pitch the vibrant club for its support. The Bay Ridge Democrats were part of two significant electoral victories in November, with Democrat Andrew Gounardes unseating incumbent Republican NYS Senator Marty Golden and Democrat Max Rose defeating incumbent Republican Rep. Dan Donovan.
Public advocate candidates appearing included Rafael Espinal, Danny O’Donnell, Michael Blake and David Eisenbach. (Other candidates appeared before I arrived.) Many of the candidates had participated in an earlier forum at Wagner College.
Bay Ridge Democrats President Chris McCreight said that the Club plans to endorse a candidate at its January 10th meeting.