Senator Charles Schumer waded into one of the more closely contested City Council races this morning, endorsing Stephen Levin in the 33rd District to replace the incumbent David Yassky.
On the steps of Brooklyn’s Borough Hall, Schumer praised Levin for his work promoting affordable housing in Bushwick, where Levin has served as the chief of staff to Assembly Housing Chair Vito Lopez.
“I think he’ll follow in the footsteps of David Yassky,” said Schumer, who also lives in the district. Yassky, who is running for city comptroller, has declined to endorse anyone in the race; his former chief of staff, Evan Thies, is running against Levin.
Schumer said he has worked closely with Lopez, who also chairs the Brooklyn Democratic Party, and with Levin’s first cousins, Representative Sandy Levin and Senator Carl Levin, both of Michigan.
“If Steve can be one-tenth of the public servant Carl Levin was, that would be better than almost anyone else,” Schumer said.
Most of the questions concerned Schumer’s work in the Senate, but after the event, Levin said the endorsement was especially meaningful since Schumer lives in the district.
“He’s a U.S. senator and he’s thinking about Supreme Court justices and passing health care, and Guantanamo, but he certainly doesn’t forget that there’s a traffic problem on Fifth Avenue,” Levin said.
Levin explained that the two met for lunch at an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn a few months ago and hit it off, talking about borough politics and pizza.
Schumer’s endorsement adds to a growing list for Levin that already includes the Working Families Party, the League of Conservation Voters, the United Federation of Teachers, and Representative Carolyn Maloney.
The two camps weren’t entirely in sync. Levin’s campaign had initially told reporters the event would take place at 11:30 a.m., while Sen. Schumer’s staff said 11 a.m. (Not surprisingly, it happened on the senator’s schedule, which left some tardy reporters and photographers grumbling. Levin said he himself hadn’t known the correct time until about an hour before the event, and that he had alerted the media as soon as he could.)
After the event, Schumer posed for photos with Levin’s parents and some extended family, in town from Minnesota. Schumer said he attended high school with Norm Coleman and declared the Vikings his fourth-favorite NFL team.
“I hear there are even some Levins in Minnesota,” Schumer said. “Send more of them to New York!”