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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Carpetbagger sent packing

Angela Jimenez for The New York Times
Councilwoman Yvette D. Clark

Councilwoman Wins Primary for House Seat
Published: September 13, 2006

A black city councilwoman won the racially charged primary for a Congressional seat in central Brooklyn yesterday, beating back a challenge from a white councilman to win a seat created nearly four decades ago to increase minority representation in Congress.

The councilwoman, Yvette D. Clarke, 41, narrowly beat three opponents to capture the seat, which has been held by blacks since the 1968 victory of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress.

This year’s campaign attracted national attention because of the strong run by the white councilman, David Yassky, whose candidacy raised questions about race and representation.

With all precincts reporting, Ms. Clarke led with 31.2 percent of the vote to Mr. Yassky’s 26.2 percent, according to unofficial returns tallied by The Associated Press. State Senator Carl Andrews, who had the backing of many Brooklyn Democratic officials and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, had 22.9 percent. Chris Owens, the son of the incumbent, Representative Major R. Owens, who is retiring, received 19.6 percent.

Early this morning, Mr. Yassky conceded the race. “I congratulate Yvette Clarke on her victory,” he said in a statement.

In her acceptance speech, Ms. Clarke said she planned to carry on in the tradition of Ms. Chisholm. “She rewrote history,’’ she said. “She was independent. She was brilliant.’’

“I will never be intimidated from standing up for what I think is right for a diverse cross section of my constituency,’’ said Ms. Clarke, the daughter of the first Caribbean-born woman to serve on the City Council.

Winning the Democratic primary is usually tantamount to winning the seat in this overwhelmingly Democratic district. It was one of dozens created after the Voting Rights Act to increase minority representation in Congress, so Mr. Yassky shook many in the political world with his decision to enter the race.

Some black leaders labeled Mr. Yassky an opportunist for moving into the district to run for the seat, and complained that he was trying to take advantage of a divided black vote. He was called a “colonizer” by the incumbent, Mr. Owens, who hoped to see his son win the race. And several black leaders tried to clear the field to help a consensus black candidate win.

But the rare prospect of an open seat in Congress attracted three black candidates who stayed in the race. Ms. Clarke narrowly rose above the pack with the support of several powerful unions adept at turning out voters.

This was less about race than the fact that David Yassky was a carpetbagging scumbag who violated New York's cardinal rule: you don't start shit in someone else's neighborhood. It seemed that he thought that black people would turn on each other and he would sneak in. Clarke turned the tide when 1199 backed her and she got some key newspaper endorsements.

But this was less about race than neighborhood. Yassky moved there to sneak in, something he wouldn't have had the balls to do elsewhere. I don't care if he's purple, that would have gone over poorly.

Was race a factor? Sure. But it was Yassky's contempt for black intelligence which struck me more than the petty bickering between the three black candidates. He really thought he could split them and win.

posted by Steve @ 7:51:00 AM

7:51:00 AM

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