Last Thursday, four central Brooklyn Assembly members endorsed Zellnor Myrie, who is taking on incumbent Jesse Hamilton to represent the 20th Senate District.
All of the legislators cited Hamilton’s jump to the now-dissolved Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a breakaway group of Democrats that had a power-sharing agreement with Republicans in the upper chamber, as their primary reason for supporting his opponent.
“We want to put in a person who reflects our ideals, our principles and our character,” said Assemblyman Walter Mosley. “Someone who is a Democrat with a capital D, a Democrat we can trust.”
Mosley, who represents many neighborhoods within the senate district, said the Assembly has passed many pieces of progressive legislation, only to see the bills hit the “proverbial brick wall” in the State Senate.
Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, who also backs Myrie, said her constituents feel “betrayed” by Hamilton’s decision two years ago. She noted that Hamilton had previously promised not to join the IDC before making the switch.
“My constituents need somebody who is not going to babble empty words, but actually represent the people and somebody who will fight for them,” she said.
Assemblyman Robert Carroll, who was first elected to office when Hamilton made the jump, accused the incumbent of looking out for “his own self-interests” and hoping his constituents weren’t smart enough to figure it out.
Carroll supported Hamilton four years ago.
“When you run for elected office, the first thing you should think about is how you can change the institution for good,” he said. “But you must know how the institution can change you.
“In the short time Jesse Hamilton has been in the State Legislature, it has changed him for the worse,” Carroll added. “It has made him craven, it has made him opportunistic. It has spread the mendacity that we all hate about elected officials.”
But the most vocal criticism of Hamilton came from Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, whose district encompasses 70 percent of the senate district. Richardson recently got into a public feud with Hamilton over an email that came out accusing Richardson of selling out the black community.
Richardson stated on Twitter that she believes Hamilton was behind the email.
“We have, for all intents and purposes, been sold out by someone who we trusted and believed in,” she said.
The assemblywoman compared constituents voting for a candidate to being in a relationship. She said Hamilton joining the IDC was comparable to finding out your partner has been cheating.
“Would you stay in that relationship?” she said.
When four lawmakers stand behind a candidate against an incumbent, Richardson asserted, the incumbent did something “very wrong.”
“It is a clear message that we as Democrats will not tolerate a turncoat,” she said.
Myrie called the endorsements “unprecedented,” and added to the fire by calling Hamilton a “Trump Democrat.”
“What were once ripples are now a wave,” he said. “That blue wave is coming right through central Brooklyn.”