In an unexpected move, the Queens Democratic Party threw its support behind Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Brooklyn) in the party’s runoff election for public advocate on Monday.
James finished first in the Sept. 10 primary with 36 percent of the vote, ahead of state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn), who finished with 33 percent. That means there will be a runoff on Oct. 1 between James and Squadron for the Democratic nomination — the only runoff on the ballot since both Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer finished above 40 percent in the Democratic primaries for mayor and comptroller, respectively.
Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx), chairman of the Queens Democratic Party, said a few words of support before allowing James to take the microphone, where she highlighted her opposition to Mayor Bloomberg’s policies during her 10 years on the City Council, making special note of her opposition to extending term limits
Some elected Queens officials had endorsed James previous to the primary, such as Borough President Helen Marshall and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Sunnyside), bucking the county leadership.
But even though James garnered the support of the county leadership, the crowd of Queens Democratic electeds was not as big for the James endorsement announcement as it had been for mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio a half hour earlier. A number of borough Democrats have been behind Squadron since before the Sept. 10 primary, including some of his colleagues in Albany: Assembly members Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) and Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) and state Sens. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), all of whom left the steps of Borough Hall before the announcement of the James endorsement.
In fact, the announcement Monday seemed to take some by surprise. Crowley and Michael Reich, the Queens Democratic Party’s executive secretary, both announced previous to the de Blasio endorsement that reporters should “stick around” for a “special event” later and implied it had something to do with James, who was the only elected official from outside Queens — besides de Blasio himself — standing on the steps of Borough Hall Monday. Supporters with James campaign signs mulled around during the rally with de Blasio.
“I don’t know what it’s about,” said a de Blasio supporter, who did not stick around for the James endorsement, upon seeing James and her backers before the mayoral candidate’s rally. “I don’t know why they’re here.”
Squadron received the endorsement of the fourth-place finisher in the primary, Cathy Guerroero. The third-place finisher, Reshma Saujani — whom the Queens Democratic Party had endorsed — backed James last week. James has also won the endorsement of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island Democratic organizations.