Breaking the deadlock that has gripped the Downtown Independent Democrats over who its candidate for the 65th Assembly District will be in the September primary election, on Wednesday evening, D.I.D. finally made a definitive choice, endorsing Paul Newell.
The club went for Newell over Jenifer Rajkumar by about 2-to-1. Both are district leaders and D.I.D. members.
Newell also was recently endorsed by two other local political organizations, the East Side’s Coalition for a District Alternative and the Stonewall Democrats, a leading gay and lesbian club.
Newell challenged former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in 2008.
“The D.I.D. has been standing for community representation and ethical government for 45 years,” Newell said. “I am proud to carry that banner in this election and will be prouder still to do so in Albany.”
D.I.D. President Jeanne Wilcke said, “D.I.D. members have seen Newell’s long service to our neighborhood and his fearless advocacy for reform. The vote was not a rejection of any candidate, but a firm support for Paul Newell.”
Rajkumar slammed the club’s endorsement and vowed to remain in the race.
“A small group cast a vote that doesn’t reflect the true sentiments or diversity of our community,” she told The Villager. “I suppose it was to be expected, since there’s really no difference between three men in a room and a gang in a clubhouse. … I’m running a campaign embracing the true needs of the district’s diverse voters. That’s a race my supporters and I know we’ll win.”
According to a D.I.D. source who requested anonymity, however, at least two elected officials and some club members are saying they think Rajkumar should throw in the towel.
“But it is unlikely she will drop out at this point, especially now that she has opened a campaign office and officially announced,” the source said.
D.I.D.’s district includes Battery Park City, the Financial District, Tribeca, Soho, Noho, the South Village, Washington Square Village, Silver Towers, parts of the Lower East Side and the East Village, as well as Governors, Ellis and Liberty Islands.
The 65th A.D. is currently represented by Alice Cancel, who ran as the Democratic nominee in an April special election to fill the vacancy created by Silver’s conviction at the end of last year on federal corruption charges. To become the Democratic nominee, Cancel won a February vote by the district’s roughly 200 Democratic County Committee members; Newell came in second and Rajkumar was third. Cancel is running for re-election in September amid a crowded field that also includes several Asian candidates.
In addition, in a close vote, D.I.D. endorsed Deborah Glick for re-election versus challenger Arthur Schwartz in the West Side’s 66th Assembly District. Glick got 26 votes to District Leader Schwartz’s 22, with 3 votes for “no endorsement.”
Schwartz didn’t let the loss get him down, though, and said he is in it for the long haul.
“The same night, however, I was endorsed by the 504 Democratic Club, the club of disability rights activists, so I batted .500,” he said. “I was also endorsed by Yetta Kurland. I never thought taking on a 26-year incumbent would be easy; this race will go down to the wire.”
— Lincoln Anderson
and Colin Mixson