With a spike in Democratic voter turnout in the recently concluded primary, there were major electoral consequences. Its an understatement to conclude that this was one of the most eventful Democratic Party primaries in recent history that literally saw the undoing of entrenched incumbent state senators and possibly changing the political landscape. Now that the dust has cleared somewhat and New York City's Public Advocate, Letitia James has won the Democratic state attorney general primary, there will be a projected crowded field of politicians vying to replace her.
Of course, this is predicated on the valid presumption that she'll win the general election in November. Victory in the Democratic Primary makes it almost certain -- 99.99% - that she'll be the next Attorney of New York State writing her name in the history books by becoming the first woman and African-American to hold this position. So come January 1, 2019 New York City is going to need a brand new Public Advocate.
So who are the possible contenders likely to replace James?
If, as expected, a Special Election is called in February 2019, the winning candidate will again have to raise money to defend the seat during the normal 2019 election cycle, meaning that they'll have to go through the regular petition period in July and contest the September 2019 Democratic primary elections. CARIBBEAN TIMES NEWS is now publishing a list of possible candidates from our own political analysis. The list places the best candidates with the best chance of becoming the next Public Advocate -- if the elections were called today - from top to bottom.
Councilmember Jumaane Williams
He's the most likely candidate. He's now gotten the name recognition that he needs and ran a decent statewide campaign. If he decides to run, he'll be very hard to beat. In the just-ended Lt. Governor's contest, Williams won the New York City vote hands down. The activist Brooklyn city councilman got 436,000 votes on primary day -- 150,000 more than Tish James got in her 2017 public advocate primary -- and his strongest showing was in his vote-rich borough of Brooklyn base. Williams, on the strength of this showing, must be considered the early front-runner -- if he wants the job.
It is no secret that Brooklyn BP, Eric Adams, want to be the next mayor of New York City. So James becoming the next New York State Attorney General is great news for him. Assuming that office would give him the city bully pulpit to galvanize and woo Democratic voters in Queens, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island -- something that he can't effectively do now as Brooklyn Borough President.
The plus for Adams is that he now has $1.2 million sitting in his campaign war chest and there's absolutely no doubt that he'll be adding more money to this account in the coming weeks and months. Williams, on the other hand, will have to raise money to be competitive. However, Adams may have to contend with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. It's no secret that she has her eyes set on Gracie Mansion. But at this time my money is on Eric Adams to outpace her should she decide to run.
Former City Council Speakers Melissa Mark-Viverito and Christine Quinn
Two female former New York City Council speakers will be an attractive and potent duo in the race for Public Advocate. I do not know if they're interested in the office but I'm throwing their names "out there" given that both are very ambitious and very capable politicians. Quinn, if she decides to run, will have the support and blessings of Governor Andrew Cuomo. The big plus for them is that both have strong name recognition and lots of supporters across the city. Both have solid bases of campaign money, with nearly $400,000 on hand apiece. The Public Advocate race may just be the opening for these two very powerful women to get back into New York City politics, especially given the wave of Democratic women winning elections and upending the system.
Brooklyn's Long Shots: Robert Cornegy and Brad Lander
Of course, there are probably many other members of the New York City Council eying this seat. Some because or term limits and others because of the ambition to go farther in politics. The Public Advocate office is a watchdog organization that does not have much power or influence. But it is an ideal "stepping stone" office on the path to real political power. Brooklyn's Robert Cornegy and Brad Lander, two of the council's most progressive members, are great candidates. By jumping into the Public Advocate race both would be doing so with an eye to term limits.
Others Worthy of Mention
Bronx Assemblyman Michael Blake is a rising Democratic Party star. He too is ambitious and is making a name for himself as a national political player in his position as DNC vice chairman. I do not know if he wants the job but if he did, he's going to be a top contender. City Councilman Yandis Rodriguez from the Bronx is another possibility -- no matter how remote. I also expect that a lot more people will throw their hats in the ring and make this a very, very keenly contested and crowded race.