Restler Raises In Spirited, If Obscure, Party Contest

One of the more interesting races in politics right now is flying so far underneath the radar that it is barely legible, but Lincoln Restler, who works for the city’s Office of Financial Empowerment is running for district leader against Warren Cohn in the North Brooklyn precints of Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Fort Greene.

District leaders are unpaid elected officials who serve in the local county party. Many district leaders also serve in other elected offices. In Brooklyn’s case, that county party is run by Vito Lopez, a longtime powerbrooker in city politics who has created a legion of enemies in Brooklyn’s sizeable good-government circles. Restler and a host of others are running as reformers; if enough of them succeed, they could topple Lopez from his perch.

Restler is running against Warren Cohn, an aide to Congressman Ed Towns and an ally of Lopez. Cohn’s father, Steve, was the district leader for many years but declined to run again in the face of a spirited challenge from Restler. (District leader elections are rarely competitive and when they are they are often proxy battles between opposing political forces.)

Restler is out with his fundraising and signature numbers and they are pretty solid: He raised over $45,000, more than any other DL candidate in Brooklyn save for Lopez himself, and according to his campaign, three times more than Cohn. Plus, they say he gathered 3,500 signatures, which his campaign notes “is 900 more than the Democratic machine [read: Cohn/Lopez] in our district”