Howard Dean came to Park Slope to praise Josh Skaller, but the fiery former presidential candidate didn’t succeed in actually burying one of Skaller’s rivals for a City Council seat.
Dean effusively praised Skaller, a longtime fixture in local progressive politics, and later campaigned with him at the F-train station at Seventh Avenue, but was forced to admit that he had also endorsed Brad Lander in the race to succeed Bill DeBlasio and represent Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and Windsor Terrace in the Council.
Dean called the dual endorsements a mix-up.
“I told Brad that I would not endorse [anyone] before I realized that this was Josh’s race,” he said, later adding that he did not have a plan to campaign with Lander as he did with Skaller on Tuesday. “Brad is a perfectly good candidate. He’s a progressive. Most people like him. So I tried to do what I think was the fair thing, which is to endorse both.”
The Brooklyn Paper’s Politicrasher columnist broke the story of the co-endorsement on the award-winning BrooklynPaper.com, so reporters were primed to pounce on Dean when he appeared beside Skaller at the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats’ makeshift clubhouse on 10th Street to endorse Skaller.
He admitted to raining on Skaller’s day in the sun, but kept the focus on the candidate.
“We need independent minds like Josh’s in the City Council,” Dean said, praising Skaller, a computer systems director for GlobalWorks Group, an international marketing and branding company. He closed by calling Skaller “the next councilman from the 39th district!”
Skaller, who worked on Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign, said he appreciated Dean’s endorsement because he shared the former Vermont governor’s “grassroots” approach to political mobilization that emphasizes “ordinary people giving small amounts of money [and] talking their friends.”
For his part, Lander, the former head of the Pratt Center for Community Development, said he was “thrilled to have Gov. Dean’s co-endorsement.”
“He’s a progressive champion on health care and bringing the troops home,” Lander added. “His endorsement shows that there are two strong progressive candidates in the race.”
Lander has also been endorsed by the Working Families Party; Local 32BJ, a union; Rep. Jerry Nadler (D–Coney Island); and state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights).
A third left-leaning candidate, Bob Zuckerman, who is on leave from his job as director of the Gowanus Canal Development Corporation, has been endorsed by a long list of not-so-top names: Assemblyman Richard Gottfried; Councilman Alan Gerson; state Sen. Tom Duane; and Assemblymembers Jonathan Bing, Deborah Glick, Micah Kellner, Daniel O’Donnell and Matt Titone.
A fourth candidate, John Heyer, has been endorsed by the Independent Neighborhood Democrats.
The final candidate, Gary Reilly, has reported no major endorsements.