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Kavanagh Shifts to State Senate, as Campaign Kicks Off For His Assembly Seat

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Brian Kavanagh at an unrelated event this morning in Chinatown.
Brian Kavanagh at an unrelated event this morning in Chinatown.

On Tuesday night, State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh secured a new job. After pulling in about 85% of the vote in a special election, he is poised to become a state senator.

In September, Kavanagh won the support of party bosses in Manhattan and Brooklyn to lock in the Democratic nomination in the 26th Senate District. His former colleague, Daniel Squadron abruptly quit the State Senate to join an organization trying to increase Democratic representation in all levels of government nationwide.

At an event in Chinatown this morning, we spoke briefly with Kavanagh.  The senator-elect told us he’s looking forward to the new position, which he’ll officially move into once votes are certified in the next week or so. Meanwhile, the battle for Kavanagh’s seat in the State Assembly is already underway. There will be a special election, perhaps in the early spring, for the 74th Assembly District seat.

Lower East Side housing activist Harvey Epstein filed to run for the seat months ago. Just today, he sent a fundraising appeal to supporters, setting a goal of banking $100,000 by the first filing deadline in January.  Epstein, an attorney, leads the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center. He’s served on the Rent Guidelines Board and was formerly a chairperson of Community Board 3. Epstein lives in the East Village.

Other local candidates are expected to emerge in the weeks ahead. The 74th Assembly District covers the East Side, from the East Village to Midtown. There are also a few blocks below East Houston Street. You can see the district map here. City Council member Rosie Mendez had been considering a run for Kavanagh’s seat, but told us this afternoon she’s decided against it. Mendez is term limited; she will be succeeded in the Council by Carlina Rivera.

The process used by the Democratic Party to select Squadron’s replacement came under heavy criticism as undemocratic. While members of the local county committee in Manhattan participated in a vote, Brooklyn party bosses acted unilaterally. Keith Wright, the Manhattan Democratic Party leader, will once again be under scrutiny as he decides how the process will work this time.

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