Bay Ridge

Harris-Cucco race reveals Bay Ridge-Coney Island divisions

Incumbent coasted to easy primary victory

September 14, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Assemblymember Pamela Harris (left) and her ally, Democratic District Leader Dilia Schack, both won their contests in the Sept. 13 primary. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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Freshman state Assemblymember Pamela Harris’ surprisingly easy win over challenger Kate Cucco in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary in the 46th Assembly District (AD) shed light on what had been subterranean political divisions in the district that runs from Bay Ridge to Coney Island.

Harris earned 64 percent of the vote to Cucco’s 36 percent.

Harris lives in Coney Island and had the strong backing of neighborhood elected officials like state Sen. Diane Savino and Councilmember Mark Treyger. Cucco, who lives in Bay Ridge, was supported by many Democrats in her home community.

On a map, the makeup of the 46th AD is split evenly between the Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights end and the Coney Island end, with each side taking up about half of the territory.

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The hard-fought contest turned bitter near the end of the campaign, as Harris charged that Cucco’s campaign was handing out deceptive campaign literature. Harris also had to withstand public scrutiny after her personal financial troubles, including the fact that she had filed for bankruptcy, came to light via news reports.

Harris first won the Assembly seat in 2015 after former Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny resigned to take a job in the private sector. Cucco was Brook-Krasny’s chief of staff.

But Cucco vowed to remain active in the district, hinting at the possibility that she might step up to challenge Harris again in 2018.

“While the result may not be what we had hoped for, we have worked hard and we have raised important issues. And we are not done fighting yet. The issues on which we built this campaign will not go away on their own and I promise to continue to fight to ensure our state government puts the needs of hard-working New Yorkers first,” Cucco said in a statement. 

In another closely watched race, Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst), defeated Bay Ridge political strategist Chris McCreight in the race to become the Democratic district leader of the 46th AD.

Treyger, who ran on a slate with Harris, won 64 percent, while McCreight had 36 percent, according to, which also reported that longtime Democratic district leader Dilia Schack won re-election. She beat back a challenge from Coney Island civic activist Brigitte Purvis, 55 percent to 45 percent. Schack ran on a slate with Treyger and Harris.

A district leader is an unpaid political party official who recruits candidates to run for public office, collects signatures on nominating petitions to get the candidates on the ballot and works to promote a party’s agenda at the grassroots level. In New York state, each of the major political parties has a male and a female district leader.

Incumbents all cruised to victory in Tuesday’s Democratic primaries in Brooklyn, winning against insurgent candidates and securing likely victories in the upcoming Nov. 8 general election in the Democratic-dominated borough.

State Sen. Martin Dilan (D-Bushwick), who represents the 18th Senate District (SD), was also victorious on Sept. 13, defeating challenger Debbie Medina 59.3 percent to 40.7 percent.

State Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D-Flatlands-Mill Basin) trounced Mercedes Narcisse 76 percent to 24 percent in the 19th SD.

Another incumbent, state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, earned 69.1 percent in her race against fellow Democrat Michael Cox, who garnered 30.9 percent of the vote. Montgomery represents the 25th SD, which includes parts of Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Red Hook and Sunset Park.

Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Flatbush-Kensington) sailed to a smooth win over Victor Jordan in the 42nd AD. Bichotte garnered the lion’s share of the vote, 79.2 percent. Jordan trailed far behind with 20.8 percent.

Incumbent Latrice Walker, who represents the 55th AD (Brownsville), trounced City Councilmember Darlene Mealy 74.5 percent to 25.5 percent.

There were two Democratic primaries for open Assembly seats in Brooklyn.

Robert Carroll, a civic activist making his first run at public office, had a big night in the 44th AD (Park Slope), earning an impressive 90 percent of the vote for the seat currently held by the retiring James Brennan. Two other candidates in the race, Rob Curry-Smithson and Troy Odendhal, had 5.4 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively.

Tremaine Wright, the chairperson of Community Board 3, won the primary for the seat held by Annette Robinson in the 56th AD (Bedford-Stuyvesant). Robinson announced earlier this year that she would not seek re-election. Wright defeated Karen Cherry 58.8 percent to 41.2 percent.


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