Shakeup in Queens borough president race as Van Bramer suddenly quits

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer announced he is stepping away from the race for Queens borough president. (File photo/QNS)


He was the first one to launch his candidacy for Queens borough president back in May 2019, but in an early morning campaign email to his supporters Tuesday, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer announced he was ending his run for the office.

“My family is the reason I love this borough and its residents; they are the ones who instilled Queens values in me and inspired me to be an advocate for working families. But family circumstances have been weighing on me for some time, causing me to reconsider the timing and feasibility of this campaign,” Van Bramer wrote. “Prioritizing my responsibilities as a son and brother is where my attention needs to be right now. And so I am ending my campaign today. While this is a difficult decision, this is the right one for me and my family at this time.”

Van Bramer’s campaign picked up endorsements from Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and progressive stars Zephyr Teachout and Cynthia Nixon. He had raised $17,360 since July 15 and has $203,185 to spend.

Councilman Donovan Richards, who had stepped up his attacks on Van Bramer’s opposition to Amazon HQ2 deal in Long Island City in recent weeks, was the first to issue a statement upon hearing Van Bramer stepped out of the race.

“Jimmy Van Bramer has always added breadth to the discourse on the future of Queens and I know that he will continue to do so,” Richards said. “Family should always be a priority. My thoughts are with him and his family at this difficult time.”

Last year, Van Bramer said he had the best Queens resume for the job.

He was born at old St. John’s Hospital on Queens Boulevard, raised in Astoria and attended P.S. 70 and William Cullen Bryant High School. After graduating from St. John’s University, Van Bramer became a community organizer and went to work as a reporter for Lesbian and Gay New York, which is now Gay City News, where he brought attention to the AIDS epidemic, bias and hate crimes.

Van Bramer went on to serve as chief external affairs officer of Queens Library for a decade and also served as president of Queens Council on the Arts. He said those experiences served him well when he was elected to the City Council in 2009 representing Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and parts of Astoria. He was appointed chairman of the Cultural Affairs and Libraries Committee in 2010, a position Van Bramer is still holding now in his third term.

QNS reached out to Van Bramer and is awaiting a response.

“I will, of course, continue to fight for the working people of our borough and city every day on the New York City Council and beyond,” Van Bramer concluded in his message to supporters. “I want to thank all of you — our campaign’s amazing supporters, volunteers, and donors for your faith in me and our shared vision to build a brighter future for Queens.”

The special election for the Queens borough president’s race is March 24. The winner will succeed Melinda Katz, who resigned on Dec. 31 to take her new job as the borough’s district attorney.