New ‘Staten Island First’ party created by Democratic borough presidential candidate
Staten Island voters could see a new political party on their general election ballots: “Staten Island First,” THE CITY has learned.
Mark Murphy, the Staten Island Democratic Party-backed candidate for borough president, collects signatures with two other Democrats to run for the general election on his new independent voting line whose name echoes the motto of Trumpian “America First”. Murphy wouldn’t say directly if he will lead a race against an active third party if he loses the June primary, responding, “I’m a Democrat. I still support the Democrats.
It worries Democrats that an independent voting line could complicate electoral calculations for the party’s candidate in the only borough who opted for Donald Trump in the last two presidential elections and who did not vote in a Democrat for president of the borough since 1989.
“It will make it very difficult for a Democrat to win this seat, which will always be difficult because it’s Staten Island and Staten Island hasn’t changed much when it comes to who comes out and votes,” said Tom Scherbenko, a Democrat who ran against current Borough President James Oddo in 2017.
Murphy, which was approved by the borough’s Democratic delegation on Thursday, told THE CITY he was creating the new ballot line to provide space for himself and other candidates to go beyond party labels Democrat and Republican.
He also recruited Democrats Sal Albanese, a longtime politician seeking to return to city council, and Maria Novak, who is running as a judge in civil court, to join him on the line.
“The Democratic-Republican air strikes of Staten Island of the past election left our community fighting more against itself than for our house. We were so distracted by our own civil wars that we let the other boroughs eat our lunch, ”said Murphy, who ran unsuccessfully for the borough’s congress seat in 2012, in a statement.
“For a long time, I have sought to create a unifying platform that all Staten Islanders can support,” he added. “Every last voter I spoke to in this election does not aspire to a left or right-wing borough president.”
“ A backroom tactic ”
Lorie Honor, another hopeful Democratic Borough president, decried the move risked torpedoing the party’s chances of retaking Borough Hall.
“Real change comes by electing candidates who are committed to improving outcomes for the people of Staten and serving in the best interests of our community, not shameless self-promotion,” said Honor, an activist and owner. of a small business. “It’s a behind-the-scenes tactic that only serves to divide us further at a time when we should be working as one. The Democrats on Staten Island deserve better and I really hope Mark reconsiders.
In the past two election cycles, Democrats vying for district president have won the nomination with little to no competition, but have not raised enough funds to mount serious general election offers.
This year, five candidates are vying for the Democratic nomination in the borough’s first test of the new ranked-choice voting system. Honor and Murphy are the only two of the hopefuls to qualify for matching public funds and have $ 244,470 and $ 190,219 in their campaign coffers, respectively.
The Democratic race drew a diverse list of candidates, including Cesar Vargas, lawyer and immigration advocate; Radhakrishna Mohan, union leader and community board member; and Brandon Stradford, an HR professional.
Novak was not immediately available for comment. Albanese, a former Brooklyn City Council member, has said he will support the Democratic nominee regardless of who wins the primary and believes Murphy will eventually do the same.
“I think whoever wins the Democratic nomination, the person on the line, I believe, will support a Democrat. I can’t tell you 100% that, but I think it will happen, ”said Albanese, who ran a mayoral campaign against Bill de Blasio in 2017.
Albanese, the only Democrat candidate for the Mid-Island Council seat, said the long-term goal of the polling line would be for politicians across town to sign as a signal that they would “treat Staten Island more fairly. “. Albanese has $ 170,178 left in his campaign account.
Two of the six Republicans vying to challenge him, Marko Kepi and David Carr, raised more. Kepi, who ran for Congress last year, has $ 202,977 remaining and Carr $ 190,448.
“We only have three Council members rather than the other boroughs which have a lot more people representing them and this often leads to a shortage of resources for the island,” Albanese said. “This is a statement that we believe needs to be made and having a ballot line that says ‘Staten Island First’ allows the people of Staten Island to express their views on how the city treats its smallest child. borough.
‘I can’t give it up’
If Murphy wins the Democratic primary, the “Staten Island First” brand could attract additional voters to his candidacy on Staten Island. In 2017, now-Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island, Brooklyn) invited 810 Staten Islanders to vote for her for mayor on her independent ballot line, which she dubbed “Stop de Blasio.”
“So the candidates are now trying to build these unaffiliated parties because the biggest group of voters are people who are really unhappy with Democratic or Republican parties, so there is this call for it to think outside the box,” Scherbenko said.
Either way, Murphy’s name will appear on the ballot if his campaign collects 1,750 valid voters’ signatures – a process called a petition – and then submits them to the city’s Election Board by May 25.
This means that an independent candidate must make up his mind to do well before the June 22 primary.
“You need to decide now and collect your independent nomination petitions,” noted Sarah Steiner, a veteran election lawyer in New York City.
For Democrats, this isn’t the first wrinkle in the crowded primary race for the president of the Staten Island Borough. As THE CITY reported last month, the challengers screamed scandal when two people filed objections against all of the nominees despite four of the five nominees – without Murphy – pledging not to.
Staten Island Republicans may have their own third-party dilemma in the crowded GOP primary for Borough President.
Leticia Remauro, a Republican, told THE CITY that she pledged to continue her race for the Borough’s presidency on the conservative polling line, regardless of what happened in the GOP three primary race in June. . This ballot line provided over 9,000 votes for Oddo in 2017 and over 6,000 votes in 2013.
Former US Representative Vito Fossella and party favorite City Council member Steven Matteo are the other two Republicans vying to replace Oddo on a limited-time basis.
“It can not be helped. I have this conservative line and I cannot give it up, ”said Remauro. “I’m the conservative Republican in this race, so to take someone’s line and not commit to leading the race throughout this race is dishonest.