Squadron resignation shakes up landscape; Special election likely

Daniel Squadron’s announcement that he is leaving the state Senate sets the stage for a special election to fill the 26th District seat.

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Updated Thurs., Aug. 24, 12:45 a.m.: In a political shocker, state Senator Daniel Squadron announced Wednesday morning in an e-mail to constituents — plus in an op-ed in the Daily News — that he’ll be stepping down from office this Friday.

Since 2008, Squadron, 37, has represented the Senate’s two-borough-spanning 26th District, which includes Lower Manhattan, the Lower East Side, Soho and Tribeca, as well as Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Brooklyn Heights and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Basically, Squadron said he’s leaving dysfunctional and corrupt Albany to focus on fighting to turn back the Donald Trump tide on a national level.

“Like many across the country, since November, I’ve thought a lot about how best to change the direction of our country, and stand up for core values that are under threat,” he wrote in his e-mail. “After much reflection, I have decided to lend my hand to make a difference in states across the country, pushing policies and candidates that will create a fairer and more democratic future. It’s not possible to take on this challenge and continue to be a full-time legislator, which is what I always promised I would be.”

Writing in the Daily News, he said, “There are no easy answers, but I believe stronger candidates, a sharpened approach and better policies at the state level can help turn the tide nationally. In the coming months, along with entrepreneur Adam Pritzker and Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, I will launch a national effort focused on addressing this crisis — joining others already doing important work toward 2018 and beyond.”

So, there will be another Downtown legislative seat vacant for a while — in this case, five months, until January, when his replacement will take office. The Democratic candidate will once again be picked by the County Committee members, probably next month or October, followed by a special election.

In this case, though, it’s different from the process held for Assembly in 2016, that saw Alice Cancel picked by the County Committee, only for her to later lose to Yuh-Line Niou in the September primary, for Shelly Silver’s vacant Lower Manhattan seat. Niou then, naturally, won the general election handily in the heavily Democratic district.

This time, though, the County Committee includes parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. When exactly each part of the County Committee would vote is unclear. Former Assemblymember Keith Wright, the Manhattan County Democratic leader, will call the vote of the County Committee, setting the date for them to make the selection. Since the Manhattan part represents 65 percent of the district, it’s up to Wright — and not the Brooklyn party leader — to call the County Committee vote.

As for the ensuing special election — which would see the sole County Committee-picked Dem candidate face off against a potential Republican and possibly a Working Families Party or Green opponent, as well — Governor Andrew Cuomo reportedly will be the one to “call it,” as in, announce it.

However, in this case, the special election reportedly will be scheduled for the same day as the general election in November, “to save money.” Or at least this is what people are hearing, at this point.

Unlike what happened with Silver’s former seat, there won’t be a primary election this time around because of the late date — the period for petitioning to get candidates on the ballot was in June and closed in July. So, the special election’s winner will be the new senator.

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh has announced he’s running for the open state Senate seat.

 

District Leader Paul Newell, who also lost out to Niou for Silver’s vacant seat is definitely expected to be in the running, according to Sean Sweeeny, a leader in the Downtown Independent Democrats political club. Assemblymember Brian Kavanah put out a press release Wednesday afternoon announcing he intends to vie for the seat.

“I am running for state Senate to fight for our communities in Manhattan and Brooklyn and create the progressive, reform-minded Senate that New Yorkers deserve,” Kavanagh wrote. “For 11 years in the Assembly, I have advocated for my constituents and stood up when government in Albany has failed to function as it should. As a state senator, I will fight for the things that matter to New Yorkers: strengthening rent laws and preserving affordable housing, increasing access to quality schools, safeguarding the environment, promoting economic and social justice, preventing violence in our communities, and creating a fairer and more accessible political process.”

While Kavanagh is clearly going “all in,” Newell himself was not yet saying he’s definitely throwing his hat in the ring. When The Villager called him early Wednesday evening, he did say he’d been on the phone quite a lot during the day.

Paul Newell says he is “seriously considering” a run for Daniel Squadron’s state Senate seat, which Squadron will vacate Fri., Aug. 11.

“So, we don’t know the process right now,” Newell said. “I am very seriously considering the race. I have been calling people, engaging support today. No matter what the process, I am a leading — if not the leading — candidate, and would seriously consider a run. If it is a County Committee vote, I think I’m in a very strong position. I have good support in Brooklyn and throughout Lower Manhattan.”

Newell said, in addition to D.I.D., he also has the support of the Lower East Side Democrats and one of its leading members, former State Committeeman John Quinn — meaning he has the district’s two largest clubs behind him. Yet, he said, it’s actually somehow conceivable that the candidate might not be picked by the County Committee, but in some other manner, though he didn’t provide further details, and suggested checking that out further with an election lawyer.

Other potential names being heard include Niou and Lincoln Restler, a Brooklyn Democratic district leader and state committeeman.

Newell and his supporters aren’t daunted by Kavanagh, according to Sweeney.

“Paul Newell is actively in the race and may have a goodly part of the Manhattan County Committee supporting him,” the veteran club member said. “Of course, Brooklyn has a large share of the Senate district, so how the Brooklyn County Committee goes — with Restler? — remains to be seen. D.I.D. is going to call a meeting ASAP to address the vacancy. But I am expecting we will support Paul 100 percent.”

Sweeney confidently said Newell can count on well more than 25 percent of the district’s County Committee members selecting him.

Political observers raised their eyebrows when Kavanagh, who lived up in the E. 30s, a few years ago, moved down into part of his district that overlaps with Squadron’s, settling into an apartment at Avenue C around E. Second St.

Why Kavanagh would want to leave the Assembly, where the Democrats hold the clear majority and he also chairs a committee, is puzzling to some.

As for Squadron’s stepping down and pronouncements of trying to roll back the Trump tide, one local politico shrugged, “Ten years in Albany is a long time. Everyone knew that Squadron was dissatisfied in Albany and wanted out of office.”

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Brian Kavanagh previously lived in the E. 30s and last year moved down to an apartment on Avenue A around E. First St. In fact, according to Kavanagh, he has lived at 248 E. Second St. near Avenue C for four and a half years, since March 2013. He petitioned to be on the ballot and was re-elected to the state Assembly while living at that address in 2014 and 2016. He previously lived on E. 26th St.

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