Press Clips: Public Advocate Special Election, 2/26

Last month, twenty-three people filed petitions to run for the vacant position of New York City Public Advocate, and seventeen candidates (one suspended her campaign) made it onto Tuesday’s nonpartisan Special Election ballot. Because it is a City Charter-mandated nonpartisan special election candidates will not be running as Democrats, Republicans, Conservative or Green Party. They had to choose independent body names to appear on the ballot under their names. Despite a weather forecast that calls for good weather, voter turnout is expected to be extremely low.

L – R, Michael Knobbe (Bronxnet General Manager), Nomiki Konst, Ron Kim, Michael Blake, Anthony Herbert, Host Gary Axelbank, Ydanis Rodriguez, Benjamin Yee, Dawn Smalls, Rafael Espinal, David Eisenbach, and Jared Rich at the recent Public Advocate debate.

This race can ben divided into three tiers, the top three candidates, where the winner will emerge, a middle tier of credible also-rans, and the bottom seven candidates who won’t factor into the outcome. Those bottom seven include Manny Alicandro, David Eisenbach, Anthony Herbert, Jared Rich, Hetal Sheikh, Benjamin Yee, and Brooklyn Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, who suspended her campaign after failing to withdraw her name from the ballot. These seven candidates plus any write in votes should account to less than five percent of the vote.

The 10 leading Public Advocate candidates in Tuesday’s nonpartisan special election. Credit: Gotham Gazette.

Credit: Viverito NYC

The vote for the seven second-tier candidates should go like this – Nomiki Konst, Ron Kim, Daniel O’Donnell, Rafael Espinal, Ydanis Rodriguez, Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Dawn Smalls each receiving between five and ten percent of the vote. With seventeen candidates in the race, if any of these can go over the ten percent mark they could, but most likely are not going to be the winner.

That leaves Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn), Assemblyman Michael Blake (D-Bronx), and Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Queens), all current elected officials from different boroughs, as the likeliest to be elected on Tuesday night.

Credit: Blake for NYC

While many pundits believe that this is Jumaane Williams’ special election to lose (as he ran a very credible and surprisingly close race for Lt. Governor last September), he like several other candidates comes from Brooklyn. Assemblyman Blake of the Bronx has been campaigning heavily in Brooklyn. Blake hails from a borough where not one favorite son has ever been elected to citywide office. NYU professsor and political scientist Mitchell Moss has called The Bronx “a political graveyard.” Also splitting the Brooklyn vote is attorney Dawn Smalls — a political unknown who like Michael Blake worked in the Obama administration — who has come on in this election like a raging forest fire. Although she not in my top tier, Smalls is my dark horse candidate, who either wins or determines just who does win.

Councilman Eric Ulrich is one of only two Republicans (Manny Alicantro is the other GOPer) against fourteen Democrats and, if this were the general election, he would be facing just one or even two Democrats (the second on a minor party line) but not fourteen (Latrice Walker dropped out of the race). While the Democrats are fighting to win the same voter base, Ulrich has the advantage in this race, as all he has to do is coalesce Republican, Conservative and anti-de Blasio independent voters in Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx. That path to victory taken many years ago by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani — although he only faced incumbent Democrat David Dinkins. It’s important to note that Councilman Ulrich represents a district where the electorate is more than two-thirds Democratic.

Credit: News 12 [Screenshot]

Late last week the New York Times endorsed Jumaane Williams, while the New York Post and New York Daily News endorsed Eric Ulrich. It is very likely that none of the top three candidates will break the twenty percent mark. The winner of this special election is going to take office with the lowest percentage of the vote in the history of the Office of Public Advocate. I predict that the winner of this nonpartisan  special election for Public Advocate will be Queens Councilman Eric Ulrich who is running on the Common Sense ballot line.

You can reach Bob Press at

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