Tuesday night was “special” for both Democrats and Republicans in New York City.
In the New York Assembly’s 43rd District and in New York’s 11th Congressional District, Working Families Party candidate Diana Richardson and Republican Party candidate Dan Donovan emerged victorious in their respective special elections.
Richardson won with 51 percent of the vote over Shirley Patterson, Menachem Raitport and Geoffrey Davis in the district that represents Crown Heights and East Flatbush. The district didn’t have a Democratic candidate because the person expected to run on the line failed to file the necessary paper work on time. The seat was formerly occupied by Democratic Assemblyman Karim Camara, who left the seat after being appointed executive director of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office of Faith-Based Community Development Services.
Richardson, who became New York State’s first Working Families Party legislator with her victory, commented on the new chapter in her political life.
“Tonight’s win shows people power can still beat big money and developers don’t own New York,” said Richardson in a statement. “We the people do. This win is a mandate for protecting and building affordable housing and making sure working families can make ends meet. I’m proud to be New York state’s first Working Families Party state legislator, and voters can always count on me to put the needs of working families first.”
Bill Lipton, director of the New York Working Families Party, chalked up Richardson’s victory to not being beholden to special interests.
“This race was a referendum about the role of real estate money,” said Lipton in a statement. “Diana’s refusal to accept a penny of developer or landlord money showed working families, seniors and youth in central Brooklyn that she can’t be bought and will always put working families first.”
Lipton spoke with the AmNews the day after the election still basking in the glow of a Working Family Party candidate heading to Albany.
“This was an all out effort by labor and community activist to elect someone who was clearly the perfect choice,” said Lipton. “She is an amazing leader in the community and we’re really happy to have supported her.”
Lipton told the AmNews that he felt the election was a referendum on the real estate industry due to the fears of displacement and gentrification.
“Diana pledged not to take any money from developers,” said Lipton. “This showed that there’s a clear contrast to who’s gonna make independent decisions.
“I think Diana’s victory sends a clear signal that working families in New York City are deeply concerned about the role of real estate money in Albany and want a change. The status quo is not acceptable.”
Lipton said these neighborhoods are under immense pressure.
But while Richardson was celebrating a transition to Albany to work on behalf of the working class, Donovan was celebrating a transition to Washington, D.C., after he beat out Democrat Vinnie Gentile in a special election.
Held because former Rep. Michael Grimm resigned after pleading guilty to tax fraud, that election had a backdrop of political and racial tension. Donovan, Richmond County’s District Attorney, won with 59 percent of the vote, even after facing mass criticism when a grand jury declined to indict the police officer who placed Eric Garner in a chokehold (which led to his death). Donovan believed that his office handled the matter properly.
At Donovan’s victory party on Staten Island, guests included former Republican mayoral candidates Joe Lhota and John Catsimatidis. Special “thank yous” were doled out to former New York City Mayors Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg.
“Don’t you miss him now?” shouted Donovan when speaking about Bloomberg. “You sent a message to President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and even Bill de Blasio that their policies are wrong for our nation, wrong for our city and they’re wrong for the 11th Congressional District.”
Donovan talked about policies coming out of Washington that he felt were harmful and discussed reforming FEMA, along with declaring his refusal to accept a deal with Iran that would put them on “a path to having a nuclear weapon.”
Also, in what some considered to be a reference to the Eric Garner situation, Donovan referred to “silly attacks” on his campaign. As for the National Republican Congressional Committee, they were simply happy to maintain their only real stronghold in New York City.
“I want to extend my congratulations to Dan Donovan on his well-deserved victory tonight,” said NRCC Chairman Greg Walden in a statement. “After a strong campaign, Dan is ready to hit the ground running in Washington on behalf of 11th District families that deserve his bold leadership in Congress.”