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Manhattan Democrats Select Nominee For Squadron’s Former Senate Seat on Sunday

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Alan Gerson rallied with supporters in Chinatown Sept. 13.
Alan Gerson rallied with supporters in Chinatown Sept. 13.

Now that the Democratic Primary is over, downtown political insiders are shifting their focus to the vacant seat in the 26th Senate District. After Daniel Squadron abruptly resigned in August, the Manhattan Democratic Party scheduled a meeting for this coming Sunday to pick a nominee. A special election will be held Nov. 7, on the same say as the general election.

The district includes most of Lower Manhattan, including the Lower East Side, and neighborhoods along the waterfront in Brooklyn.

One of five announced candidates, Alan Gerson, rallied with supporters in Chinatown yesterday afternoon. He received the endorsement of the United Democratic Organization, a Chinatown political club. He also received backing from City Council member Margaret Chin, who is waiting to find out whether she secured a third term in Tuesday’s primary election. Chin defeated Gerson eight years ago for the District 1 Council seat, but had only praise for her former rival yesterday. Gerson was also endorsed by the Labor Press, as well as community members in both Manhattan and Brooklyn.

While members of the Manhattan county committee will vote on Sunday afternoon, it remains unclear what process Brooklyn Democrats will use. There’s been some talk that party bosses will attempt to install a temporary “placeholder” in the Senate seat, a Brooklyn-based establishment figure such as former State Sen. Marty Connor. About one-third of the district is located in Brooklyn’s waterfront communities.  Barry Weinberg, executive director of the Manhattan Democratic Party, told us this afternoon that Brooklyn had been invited to participate in a joint meeting this coming weekend, but that party leaders there declined.

Other candidates vying for the nomination include Lower East Side activist Paul Newell, State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council executive Diego Segalini and former Brooklyn prosecutor Eileen Naples.

All of the candidates have been maneuvering for the support of the district’s political clubs.

Paul Newell won the backing of Downtown Independent Democrats, his own club, and Lower East Side Democrats, which covers the Two Bridges area. Newell also received a boost on Tuesday when a new club, Grand Street Democrats, and its slate of county committee candidates prevailed over the Truman Democratic Club. Newell told us today he picked up the endorsement of the new club.  The Truman Club favors Gerson and opposes Newell. [Truman still has some county committee votes.]

Kavanagh has the support of Downtown Progressive Democrats, a club on the west side of the district. Another club, Coalition for a District Alternative, centered in the East Village, is planning to hold an endorsement vote tonight.

State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou has told us she intends to make an endorsement, but she has not reached a decision as of yet.

After announcing his resignation, Squadron came under fire for the timing of his decision, which made it impossible to hold a primary. The result is an undemocratic process to select a nominee among a handful of party activists. In the deep blue district, the Democratic nominee is almost certain of winning the seat in November.

UPDATE 9/15  Last night CoDA, Coalition for a District Alternative, voted to endorse Brian Kavanagh.

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