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Brooklyn Democrats gather for pre-election Friday breakfast

Steve Cohn’s Annual Junior’s Breakfast Stresses Unity, Warns Against Complacency

November 7, 2016 By Andy Katz Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Gov. Andrew Cuomo addresses an audience at Junior’s with Friday Breakfast host Steven Cohn, far left, and Democratic Party Chair Frank Seddio, left. Eagle photos by Andy Katz
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Unity, cautious optimism and proximity to the best cheesecake in New York City were the overriding themes at Steve Cohn’s annual pre-election Friday breakfast that brought prominent Democratic Party office holders, strategists and supporters to Junior’s Restaurant.

“Politics in Brooklyn is different,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the packed restaurant. “It’s not just politics. There’s a passion to it, an intensity to it.”

“We’re going to have the largest turnout for Hillary in the state!” Brooklyn Democratic Party Chairman Frank Seddio shouted from a nearby table.

“Frank Seddio has the easiest job in the state,” the governor quipped in reply. “Chairman of the Brooklyn Democrats, who always agree on everything … it’s really amazing!”

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Notwithstanding the governor’s irony, a strong sense of impending victory on Nov. 8 filled the landmark Downtown deli, despite Republican candidate Donald Trump’s recent bump in the polls that came in the wake of further FBI revelations to Congress about the status of their investigation of Clinton’s email.

Cuomo urged Democrats to look beyond Inauguration Day: “They’re not going to stop,” he said about Republicans who support Trump and his platform.  “If they win the House, if they win the Senate, they will use that to gridlock government.”

Speaking a short while later, Mayor Bill de Blasio expounded on the benefits of Democratic solidarity, urging voters to avoid complacency: “Remember, although we’re not a swing state, we have the opportunity in New York to send a powerful message about our support for our own favorite daughter, Hillary Clinton!”

The mayor also praised the current state of the Brooklyn Democratic Party: “We have unity in the Brooklyn Democratic Party for the first time in history, thanks to Frank Seddio.”

Wait staff, hefting trays of food and pots of coffee, dodged and feinted around party notables that included state Sens. Jesse Hamilton, Kevin Parker and Daniel Squadron, along with U.S. Reps. Carolyn Mulroney and Hakeem Jeffries, and state Assemblymembers Pamela Harris, Walter Moseley, Jo Anne Simon and David Weprin. Former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, member of NYC General Counsel Joni Kletter, Chabad leader and author Rabbi Aaron Raskin, personal injury attorney and former National Action Network Counsel Sanford Rubenstein and even conservative, pro-Israel activist Jeffrey Wiesenfeld were just a few of the political heavy weights also in attendance.

Sponsored by The Friends of Steve Cohn, the breakfast takes place yearly, on the last Friday before an election. Cohn, a Democratic Committeeman in Brooklyn’s 50th Assembly District, has an impressive resume that includes executive secretary of the Brooklyn Democratic Party and president of the Brooklyn Bar Association. Cohn began hosting the event as a way of bridging the divides in Brooklyn and New York politics.

“What Steve reminds us, what this tradition reminds us,” Cuomo said, “is that politics is still about relationships.”

In addition to focusing on national politics, the breakfast also provided Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez the opportunity to introduce himself on a larger scale. “I will continue [late Brooklyn DA] Ken Thompson’s legacy of fairness and justice,” Gonzalez promised the audience. “My office is open to anyone who wants to meet with me.”

With Clinton’s victory finally in sight and party leaders already mulling a “post-Trump” strategy, Friday’s overriding message was: Vote.

“We know Donald Trump too well in this city,” de Blasio reminded the audience. “Let everyone you know, from your heart, that we need them voting on Tuesday. Because, you know what? Their lives do depend on it.”

Public Advocate Letitia James summed it up when she declared: “I want to be on the right side of history!”


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