One out of three member of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) won in last night’s primary.
The most impressive result was Khader el-Yateem’s strong second-place finish with 31.3% of the vote (2,876 votes) in the 43rd district New York City council race. As a Palestinian pastor and democratic socialist, he got a ton of positive press coverage and ran a vigorous grassroots campaign.
Marc Fliedner running for Brooklyn district attorney did not fare as well as el-Yateem. He barely came in third and reportedly struggled to connect with Black voters, a must for any successful candidate running in a Democratic primary there. Fliedner resigned from his position as a prosectuor in the district attorney’s office after his boss decided to give NYPD officer Peter Ling zero jail time after Ling was convicted of manslaughter for shooting Akai Gurley in a housing project in 2014, earning him the endorsement of Gurley’s family. Sadly this did not translate into nearly enough votes.
Patrick Bobilin was trounced by incumbent Ben Kallos city council district 5 by a 65-point margin. Bobilin was outperformed by the other progressive insurgent candidate, Gwen Goodwin, who was active in Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign and before that spent decades as a community organizing fighting real estate developers and other special interests. Combined the vote for progressive candidates was a respectable 26% but unfortunately it was split between two candidates.
The one bright spot for DSA in yesterday’s primary is Jabari Brisport who won in 35th city council district, crushing his opponent with a whopping 88.6% of the vote. The only problem is that Brisport was running in the Green Party rather than Democratic Party primary and got all of 31 votes to his opponent’s 4 votes.
Brisport advances to the general election to face Laurie Cumbo who won the Democratic Party primary in the district with 10,116 votes or 57.5% of the selectorate.
In 2014, Cumbo won the general election with roughly 26,000 votes out of 30,000 cast.
Jabari has unfortunately set himself up for catastrophic defeat in the 2017 general election by running as a Green in a district where they can only get 35 of their registered voters to turn out in a primary and had no candidate in the previous general election. How getting destroyed in a general election advances the cause of democratic socialism or the broader progressive agenda is anyone’s guess.
Khader el-Yateem’s strong showing by contrast established that there is a base of voters open to socialism in the 43rd district, that he is a credible and serious candidate, and DSA’s 2017 effort there could pave the way for future progressive wins.
NOTE: Originally this was published with only 3 out of 4 DSA candidates listed. Apologies for the oversight.