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Hillary backlash hurts Clarke

The Brooklyn Paper
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A downtown Brooklyn Democratic club has decided not to endorse Rep. Yvette Clarke in this year’s election – and, no, it’s not because the president of the club lost to her back in 2006.

Citing her continued support of U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton for president while 56 percent of 11th Congressional District voted in favor of Barack Obama as well as other issues, members of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID) voted last week not to endorse Clarke for her sophomore run in D.C.

CBID is currently led by Chris Owens, the son of former Rep. Major Owens, who lost to Clarke in the 2006 Democratic primary when his father retired.

In published reports, Owens said that he in no way pushed for the vote against Clarke.

“I'm not running, and it's an insult to some very independent-minded and cantankerous progressives to assume that I corralled their votes,” Owens said. “There is a lot of scrutiny when you are in your first term and CBID is a progressive club with high standards.”

“When you are a progressive Democrat standing up against the war gets you in the gate,” he continued. “It’s what you do with the tough calls like Atlantic Yards that’s going to be viewed by our group’s standards and obviously there weren’t enough people convinced that she deserved the endorsement.”

CBID members concurred, saying that Owens didn’t do anything to influence their votes.

“I try to stay as publicly neutral as possible,” he said.

The vote occurred last Thursday as CBID members held the first of two endorsement meetings.

Although most clubs hold endorsement meetings in contested primaries, CBID votes to either endorse or not endorse even if there isn’t a challenger.

Currently, no one has announced a run against Clarke.

Owens said that all candidates seeking endorsement had to fill out a questionnaire and address the club, either in person or through a spokesman.

“We run a pretty disciplined shop when it comes to endorsemen­ts,” he said.

Clarke filled out the questionnaire and sent her mother, former City Councilmember Una Clarke and spokesperson John Flateau to speak on her behalf.

Flateau did all of the talking, Owens recalled.

Those at the meeting took Clarke for task about her continued support of Clinton and Atlantic Yards.

When the vote was called, Clarke fell just shy of the 50 percent needed to receive the club’s endorsement.

“She came close,” Owens said.

Calls to Clarke’s office were not returned as this paper went to press.

While the CBID did not give Clarke their support, the freshman congress woman said she remains busy in Washington, where, she says, “It’s a good time to be fighting for interests important to my constituen­ts.”

Clarke said topping this list are two pieces of federal legislation that are crucial to her district – a mortgage foreclosure bill that will help constituents stave off any impending foreclosures, and a college affordability bill.

Clarke said she intends to support Clinton as far as the New York senator wants to go.

“I’m working with the New York delegation and [Clinton’s] the senator from New York, and whatever decisions are made by the senator in the nomination process that’s where my support goes,” said Clarke, adding if there is a change of support it will probably occur with the entire New York delegation changing together.

“At the end of the day there will be a coming together of the party and once that happens we’re united, we’re moving and we’re going to elect the best person to represent our interests in the Democratic Party,” she said.

At Thursday’s meeting, CBID did endorse Assemblymembers James Brennan and Joan Millman as well as State Senator Eric Adams, all of whom currently do not have any announced opponents in the upcoming Democratic primaries.

--with Stephen Witt

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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