Bedford-Stuyvesant

Brooklyn Democratic Socialists narrow their sights on four 2020 candidates 

September 19, 2019 Emma Whitford
Eagle file photo by Mary Frost

On the heels of a competitive effort in June’s Queens district attorney primary, during which they backed insurgent candidate Tiffany Cabán, the Democratic Socialists of America are beginning to solidify their 2020 priorities in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn DSA’s electoral working group recommended four New York State Assembly and Senate candidates for endorsement in a closed meeting Wednesday night. The candidates would present primary challenges in seats currently held by: Velmanette Montgomery in the 25th Senate District (who reportedly may retire); Félix Ortiz in the 51st Assembly District; Erik Martin Dilan in the 54th Assembly District; and Walter Mosley in the 57th Assembly District.

The candidates are Jabari Brisport in the 25th, Marcela Mitaynes in the 51st, Boris Santos in the 54th and Phara Souffrant Forrest in the 57th.

“There are still two more votes before anyone is officially endorsed (local branch and citywide leadership),” Cea Weaver, a member of NYC DSA’s steering committee, told the Brooklyn Eagle in a message Thursday. “But the electoral working group recommendations carry a lot of weight.”

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Two of the challengers are tenant organizers: Mitaynes with Neighbors Helping Neighbors in Sunset Park, and Forrest with the Crown Heights Tenant Union. Santos recently stepped down from his job as chief of staff to Brooklyn State Sen. Julia Salazar (also a DSA member) to run for office.

Brisport ran unsuccessfully on the Green Party line for Crown Heights Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo’s seat in 2017.

Brisport and Santos are both longtime DSA members, while Mitaynes and Forrest recently joined the organization.

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Montgomery represents parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Gowanus and Red Hook. Ortiz’s district includes Sunset Park and Red Hook. Dilan represents parts of Bed-Stuy, Bushwick, Cypress Hills, and East New York; and Mosley represents Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Prospect Heights as well as parts of Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights.

Related: Like his father before him, Bushwick assemblyman to face socialist challenger

Several applicants were edged out of a recommendation on Wednesday, according to people familiar with the deliberations.

Among them were Jason Salmon for Montgomery’s seat; Sandy Nurse for Dilan’s seat; and Katie Walsh and Genesis Aquino for Ortiz’s seat.

The Brooklyn DSA electoral working group declined to make an endorsement in the 50th Assembly District, currently held by Joe Lentol, though two women sought their backing in the race: Emily Gallagher and Nadja Oertelt.

More 2020 DSA endorsement recommendations are likely, Weaver said: both in congressional races and at the state level in other boroughs. NYC DSA leadership will meet on Sept. 29 to discuss their capacity to support multiple candidates.

Frank Carone, law secretary for the Kings County Democratic Committee, expressed confidence in the incumbents.

“Primaries are in fact a good thing and if an incumbent elected official has done his or her job, served the district, connected with constituents with passion and compassion, then he or she will be re-elected. I believe our incumbents have met that test. We look forward to 2020,” Carone said.

Follow all of our 2020 election coverage here.

Emma Whitford is a freelance reporter based in Brooklyn. You can follow her work on Twitter

Update (1:17 p.m.): This article has been updated to note that Montgomery may retire, and that Santos stepped down from his position as Sen. Salazar’s chief of staff.

Update (2:17 p.m.): This article has been updated to include a quote from the Kings County Democratic Committee.

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