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Leading Atlantic Yards Opponents Trounce Opponents in Democratic Primary While Bruce Ratner is making a mess over at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush after putting shovels in the ground, two of the most high profile political opponents of Atlantic Yards were held in high regard yesterday by the voters. Of course Atlantic Yards was not the defining issue in yesterday's races for State Senate in the 18th district and State Committee member (Male District Leader) in the 52nd district, but the fervor of the opposition sure helped Chris Owens win office for the first time and Senator Velmanette Montgomery retain her seat in the Senate. And both highlighted their Atlantic Yards opposition during their campaigns.
Owens beat his two challengers (Jesse Strauss and Stephen Williamson) getting over 50% of the vote and Senator Montgomery pummeled her challenger receiving nearly 81% of the vote.)
It is pretty clear that in Central Brooklyn an overwhelming percentage of the electorate is very comfortable with the position these two leaders have held over the past seven years.
More from Norman Oder on his Atlantic Yards Report:
…What do District Leaders do in their unpaid positions? Serve as liaisons between the community and elected officials, select the Brooklyn Democratic Party Leader, determine the slate of Democratic Judicial Candidates, and endorse candidates for local office.
Because they can raise campaign funds, District Leaders are essentially on the farm team for future elective office.
In the 52nd District: Owens and Simon
Despite endorsements and robo-calls from Borough President Marty Markowitz and 33rd District Council Member Steve Levin, and a slew of mailings, the two machine candidates for District Leader in the 52nd Assembly District, Hope Reichhbach and Steve Williamson, lost big.
According to the Brooklyn Paper, the results were:
Chris Owens, 2,154 (50 percent) Jesse Strauss, 1,361 (32 percent) Stephen Williamson, 771 (18 percent)
Jo Anne Simon, 2,645 (63 percent) Hope Reichbach, 1,657 (37 percent)
Given that Levin won his district with a majority of votes in Williamsburg, which is not part of the 52nd District, it was an uphill battle for Williamson and Reichbach against candidates from Brownstone Brooklyn.
One source of suspense was whether Jesse Strauss, who ran with Simon, both endorsed by the Independent Neighborhood Democrats, would split the reform vote with Owens sufficiently to let Williamson prevail.
That was not to be, as Owens, who has more name recognition due to longer service and his 2006 race for Congress (in which he was the candidate against Atlantic Yards), relied on the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID) and other endorsements.
(He got a last-minute endorsement from the Brooklyn Paper, which, after I chided them for not guiding voters in the print edition, issued endorsements online on Monday. Not that I'm saying there's a connection.)
Owens: anti-Atlantic Yards spirit helped
CBID First VP Raul Rothblatt shot the video below, in which Owens said an anti-Atlantic Yards spirit helped him win.
"When I saw people today at [PS] 282," Owens said. "People were coming not in large numbers... but they were coming, clearly looking to do something different. They stood there with Steve Levin, the Councilman, earnestly talking to them, and they earnestly listened to Steve Levin. And they earnestly listened to Ashley, who is one of Steve Levin's staff members, who was there, talking about Hope and Williamson. And then they walked over to me and said, Tell me why you should be the one. And I said, Because we've got to shape things up, and you're looking at basically people who will do the same things over and over again, only with a little bit more money. If we're going to do something very different, you've got to get someone who both has experience and who has the guts to be a nut."
"This is victory not just for me as a candidate," he continued. "This is a CBID victory. This is a statement that a progressive organization touting progressive values not only resonates in a part of Brooklyn but can actually deliver votes. And it's a statement that we understand strategically how to win an election. We out-covered them, we out-hustled them, we out-literatured them. But we clearly outfought them in terms of where we thought this battle was going to take place. They were blown away at 282 and PS 9 and 321.... I said, This is an area that hated Atlantic Yards. This is an area that clearly has always stood up for Major Owens and progressive values. This is an area that's looking for somebody to say, c'mon, keep it going, and you guys aren't it, down in Brooklyn Heights. We are it. CBID is it. This is the part of the 52nd that's been waiting to have its voice heard for real."
In other contested races, according to the Brooklyn Paper, incumbents easily prevailed.
In the 18th Senatorial District, veteran Velmanette Montgomery won by a nearly 4-1 margin over challenger Mark Pollard (an attorney and political newcomer), who relied on funds from charter school supporters. Maybe now we'll find out who paid for several of her mailings. …