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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A parade happens in Brooklyn

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
A participant in the West Indian Parade fixes
his hat Monday, Sept. 4, 2006 in the Brooklyn
borough of New York.

Politicians Go on Parade in Brooklyn, and Some Come Under Fire

Published: September 5, 2006

The four-way Democratic race for a Congressional seat in Brooklyn intensified yesterday on the busiest campaign day of the New York primary season, as one candidate faced hecklers — and even a hurtling doughnut — in a showdown that underscored the ethnic tensions in that race.

The biggest names in state politics also descended on Eastern Parkway for the West Indian American Day Carnival Parade, like Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, a candidate for re-election, and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, a candidate for governor. Both are on next Tuesday’s primary ballot and were eager to energize voters in hopes of increasing their margins of victory.

If the scene was typically jubilant for a parade, there was also unpredictability elsewhere on the political trail.

Angry residents of Wyckoff Gardens, a public housing complex in the Boerum Hill neighborhood, confronted one of the Congressional candidates, City Councilman David Yassky, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, heckling them as they announced a $600,000 allocation for security cameras.

The news conference, held in the courtyard of the complex after both men visited the parade, was to be a boost for Mr. Yassky. But it quickly degenerated as a hostile crowd gathered and jeered, exposing the ethnic fault lines running through the campaign. Mr. Yassky is white and his three rivals are black; African-American politicians have held the seat for decades.

“We don’t need him,” a few in the crowd shouted, referring to Mr. Yassky.

Things got so out of hand that at one point, the mayor’s companion, Diana Taylor, the state banking superintendent, took cover beneath a concrete overhang to avoid a chocolate frosted doughnut flung from the upper reaches of an apartment building.

“This was a joke,” Beverly Corbin, a longtime resident, said of the news conference, “and it was a political ploy played on the people of Wyckoff Gardens.””

A man in the crowd, Eddie Leigh, said, “It’s all politics — why come here?”

The parade’s proximity to the primary has always made it a prime spot for political photo opportunities.

Four years ago, Mrs. Clinton decided to march alongside State Comptroller H. Carl McCall, then a candidate for governor, instead of a rival candidate, Andrew M. Cuomo, who withdrew from the campaign soon after.

This year, Mr. Cuomo is a candidate for attorney general, and he marched with his three daughters — at first, just in front of Mrs. Clinton’s contingent. But Mr. Cuomo began to walk faster and caught up with the Rev. Al Sharpton, who was walking beside State Senator Carl Andrews, a candidate in the Brooklyn Congressional race.

Mr. Cuomo’s move turned out to be a good one, at least for improving his visibility. Mr. Sharpton was clearly one of the most popular political figures in the parade, with near universal recognition and applause; only Senator Clinton drew more enthusiastic cheers, as women and girls leaned over barricades to shout out warmly as she passed by.

Another of Mr. Yassky’s rivals in the primary in the 11th Congressional District, Yvette Clarke, a city councilwoman whose mother was the first Jamaican-born member of the Council, campaigned at the parade with a large group of supporters.

Mr. Yassky was received politely along the route.

Yassky's real problem is not being white, but moving to the district because he thought it was an easy way to Congress. Why he thought this is beyond me, because even if he won the Democratic primary, a Working Families party candidate would challenge him.

The only New York politician to change his base and win in recent history is........Al Sharpton, who moved from Brooklyn to Harlem, an unheard of feat. People sometimes forget that Sharpton does have a real base in New York, it isn't just good press.

posted by Steve @ 1:19:00 AM

1:19:00 AM

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