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City Council member Bill de Blasio may yet wind up succeeding term-limited Marty Markowitz as borough president, but the race won’t be a Sunday walk in Prospect Park.
That after several potential opponents lambasted de Blasio for rolling out endorsements from Congress members Nydia M. Velázquez and Yvette Clarke on the steps of City Hall last week.
The endorsements follow those of two unions — Unite Here and the New York Hotel Trades Council — which endorsed de Blasio several weeks earlier.
“Right now we should be focused on winning the White House for the Democratic Party and electing the first African-American to the presidency. We should be focusing on Barrack Obama and not a race a year and half out,” said Coney Island City Council member Domenic Recchia, who is also eyeing a run for the borough presidency.
“It seems like an early ploy to get other people out of the race. Voters of Brooklyn should have a right to have several candidates, and elected officials and unions should wait to see who’s all in the race before they decide,” he added.
Of the two congressional endorsements, Clarke’s appeared to be the most risky, as she gave the endorsement knowing that Deputy Borough President Yvonne Graham, a Jamaican-born Caribbean-American, is also in the race.
De Blasio actively campaigned for Clarke in her successful run for the 11th Congressional seat 18 months ago.
Graham spokesperson Mike Roberts said Clarke called Graham before making the endorsement and Graham thanks her for the courtesy.
“We have the utmost respect for Congresswoman Yvette Clarke and we respect her right to endorse anyone of her choosing,” said Roberts.
“However, there are times when you must weigh the aspirations of your community against political expediency. Yvonne Graham has been a staunch advocate of community empowerment and inclusiveness for the past 30 years,” he added.
Clarke’s early endorsement also drew the ire of East Flatbush Assembly member Nick Perry, who is also considering a run for the position.
The Jamaican-born Perry was also instrumental in helping Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican parents, get elected to Congress as he dropped out of the five-person race – including David Yassky, Carl Andrews and Chris Owens – and supported Clarke.
“I believe that the endorsement was too quick. There’s a lot of time to watch the development and see exactly how this race will shape out. Hopefully, the congresswoman has thought this through well enough to not put herself in any jeopardy,” said Perry.
Perry said de Blasio is making his run for the position look inevitable and could be taking a play from the failed presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton, who de Blasio also supported.
“In this borough president race we have yet to see who the real candidates are and it’s a big gamble to assume de Blasio is the guy at this point,” Perry said.
Clarke spokesperson Scott Levenson noted de Blasio was an early supporter of Clarke and was chairman of her congressional campaign.
“She thinks he’s the best person to serve as borough president,” Levenson said.
In endorsing de Blasio, Clarke noted they stood together on many critical issues during the five years they served together in the City Council.
“Bill has worked tirelessly to expand access to child care, build affordable housing and create living-wage jobs for Brooklyn residents. I am so proud to stand with him and give him my full support today,” said Clarke.
De Blasio, whose district includes all or parts of Cobble Hill Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington and Borough Park, said his aim is to build a coalition.
“The only way to win the borough presidency and govern effectively is to put together a broad coalition of residents from throughout the borough. And you can’t start that soon enough,” he said.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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