Brooklyn Boro

Simon leads Borough President race, Cornegy running close behind

Contribution tallies, endorsement lists are BP scorecards

June 8, 2021 Raanan Geberer
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In the run-up to the Democratic primary for the new Brooklyn borough president to replace Eric Adams, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon is leading both in endorsements and contributions, followed closely by Councilmember Robert Cornegy.

They are followed by Councilmember Antonio Reynoso, who has his own base of supporters. Khari Edwards, a hospital professional and a political newcomer, has shown surprising support in the last few months, and Councilmember Mathieu Eugene’s campaign is still in the running.

In total, there are 12 candidates, according to a recent report by Patch, although the Eagle is concentrating on the best-known ones. “Cornegy, Reynoso and Simon all have more than 30 endorsements from elected officials, local organizations, unions and public figures,” Patch says.

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If one compares the candidates’ websites; the official NYC Campaign Finance Board site; and the nationwide nonprofit-funded website, it’s clear that Simon is leading, both in endorsements and in money raised.

Among the public figures endorsing Simon are State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler, State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, and Assemblymembers Robert Carroll, Andrew Gounardes and Peter Abbate. Also endorsing her were several former officials, such as former U.S. Rep. and Brooklyn District Attorney Elizabeth Holtzman and former Assemblymember Joan Millman.

Councilmember Robert Cornegy (D-Bushwick-Bed-Stuy-Crown Heights). Photo courtesy of Cornegy

Democratic clubs endorsing Simon, according to Simon’s own website, include the Independent Neighborhood Democrats, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, the Bay Ridge Democrats and several others. That doesn’t include the non-political organizations that are also endorsing her, such as the United Federation of Teachers, the United Arab Women and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators.

Montgomery said,  “I’m thrilled to endorse Jo Anne for Brooklyn Borough President. I’ve known Jo Anne as a community activist, a reformer unafraid to take on bullies, and as a partner in government fighting for social justice. Her bills to reform our campaign finance laws, prevent gun violence, and ensure education equity show she can get results.”

Simon also led in the amount of money raised, with $405,520, according to the Campaign Finance Board’s most recent online statement, dated June 4. (Note: the figures quoted here don’t include public funds.) While most of her donations came from individuals, groups that stood out in her donor base, according to Follow the Money, including lawyers, lobbyists and organized labor. Since Simon is a disability lawyer, it seems natural that many in the legal community would support her.

Cornegy, a skilled political operative, certainly is no slouch either as far as getting endorsements or raising money. Brooklyn officials endorsing him include State Sens. Roxanne Persaud and Diane Savino; Assemblymembers William Colton, Mathylde Frontus and Jaime Williams; and Councilmembers Laurie Cumbo, Alan Maisel, Darna Diaz and Kalman Yeger. 

Cumbo, the City Council speaker, says, almost certainly referring to the former basketball player’s height, “When you think of Robert Cornegy, Think BIG! He’s got a big heart and big ideas matched with the compassion and dedication to get things done. No one has fought harder for small businesses, better schools, women’s rights, and housing for the most vulnerable. Borough Hall has been waiting for a leader.”

Councilmember Antonio Reynoso (D-Bushwick-Williamsburg-Ridgewood) Eagle file photo by Andy Katz

Also endorsing him are filmmaker Spike Lee and several former officials.

According to the CFB’s last statement, Cornegy had raised $46,848. In addition to individual donors, sectors he is strong in include FIRE (finance, insurance and real estate) and labor, according to Follow the Money. 

Although Reynoso places third in funds raised, $260,097 at the end of the CFB’s most recent statement, he, too, has an impressive list of endorsements.

Among the public officials who have endorsed him for borough president are U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez; State Sen. Jessica Ramos, Julia Salazar and John Liu; Assemblymembers Marcela Mitaynes and Maritza Davila; Public Advocate Jumaane Williams; and Councilmembers Helen Rosenthal and Margaret Chin. 

Among the others who have endorsed Reynoso include Cynthia Nixon, who unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the 2018 Democratic primary; Terrence Floyd, one of George Floyd’s brothers; Valerie Bell, mother of Sean Bell; Zephyr Teachout, who challenged Cuomo in 2014; the Working Families Party, Make the Road Action, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators.

More of Reynoso’s donations are direct donations from individuals.

As for Edwards,  although he does not post a full list of endorsements, he has been endorsed by Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuels, State Sen. Kevin Parker, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, Assemblywomen Diana Richardson and Latrice Walker, and the Progressive Democrats Political Association, a club run by Clarke’s mother, former Councilmember Una Clarke. 

Edwards has raised $175,315 in the race as of the end of last month. In additional to individual donations, many of his contributions come from organized labor, small business and employees of government agencies.

Mathieu Eugene has raised $59,506, and a search of the web has turned up no major endorsements. 

He has raised less money than one of the lesser-known candidates, Kimberly Council, an ordained minister and former president of the East New York Housing Development Corp., who has raised $99,065, according to the CFB. Council’s website similarly does not list endorsements.

Candidates not named above include, according to Patch: Robert A. Elstein, a self-declared outsider and high school teacher; Pearlene Fields, a member of Community Board 17; Anthony Jones, a district leader in the 55th A.D.; Robert Ramos; a member of the CUNY Board of Trustees; Lamor Whitehead-Miller, a bishop of a church in Canarsie; and Trisha Ocona, a small business owner and campaigner against housing abuse.

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