Borough President Melinda Katz was easily elected the new district attorney of Queens following an approximately 80,000-vote trouncing of opponent Joe Murray. It was much easier than Katz’s primary victory, which almost wasn’t.
Over the summer, it looked like first-time candidate Tiffany Caban had upset Katz, but a lengthy recount ended with Katz narrowly edging the upstart by just a handful of votes, leading to her easy showdown with Murray, a Democrat who was a last-minute selection to hold the Republican line.
But now that Katz has officially been elected, she will be forced to vacate her current post as borough president, and there is no shortage of candidates looking to replace her. Many have already been actively campaigning, anticipating that she would defeat any challenger the Republicans put up following her primary scare.
A special election to fill the post must take place within 45 days of Katz being sworn in as district attorney. Here’s a look at the candidates we know have either declared or are seriously considering running, in no particular order:
• Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer: Van Bramer was first elected to the City Council in 2009, his first stint as an elected official, and is currently serving out his third and final four-year term. The western Queens pol announced earlier this year on Twitter that he would enter the race, vowing to be an “activist borough president.”
• Councilman Donovan Richards: The Rockaway elected official announced about two months ago that he would be running, and standing next to him was a person familiar with the post in former borough president Claire Shulman. Richards was first elected to office in 2013, and like all of the other City Council members on this list, he will be forced out of office due to term limits in December 2021.
• Assemblyman Alicia Hyndman: The south Queens lawmaker was first elected to Albany in 2015, and announced in September her intent to run.
• Councilman Costa Constantinides: The Astoria councilman was elected to his second term in office in 2017 with 97 percent of the vote. He has already made resiliency and other environmental issues related to climate change a major part of his campaign.
• Elizabeth Crowley: Crowley served in the City Council from 2009 to 2017, losing her seat under bizarre circumstances after the Republican Party recruited the Democratic candidate she defeated in the primary to run against her in the general election. She has been out in public recently touting a plan to reactivate passenger service on a rail line that cuts through the heart of Queens. She hasn’t officially announced her candidacy.
• Councilman Paul Vallone: The Bayside councilman has also not officially declared his intent to run, but is actively fundraising.
• Assemblyman Ron Kim: While also not officially in the race, the Flushing pol has also been actively fundraising and filing campaign disclosure forms. He was first elected to the Assembly in 2012, and he is facing a primary challenger from Democrat Steve Lee...more on him in future columns.
Normally, this special election would decide who is going to be the next borough president. Sure, the winner will only serve out the remainder of Katz’s term and then be required to defend the seat, but it is unlikely another Democrat would challenger the winner.
Unless you count the candidate the Republican Party would run in a general election, as they seem content on finding B-list Democrats to run on their line these days. Or is there perhaps someone else with at least some GOP bonafides?
Councilman Eric Ulrich, a Republican from south Queens, is also being forced out of office due to term limits, could he be interested in the seat?
The special election is nonpartisan, meaning that no one will be running on any established party line, so Ulrich is free to enter that race.
Or could he take the strategy of letting the Democratic hopefuls thin themselves out, serve out the rest of his term in the City Council, and take on one Democratic opponent in a future general election rather than potentially seven of them in a special election?
There is the possibility that winning this special election doesn’t necessarily give the Democratic victor a lock on the office.