There are a number of under-covered state legislative primaries happening on September 13th, and District Leader Rodneyse Bichotte’s effort to take on veteran Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs may very well be one of them. Ms. Jacobs’ district is only about 15% white, while Ms. Bichotte, who’s of Haitian descent, has a natural base of support in the Flatbush-based district’s Caribbean population. And although almost every other union has formally backed Ms. Jacobs, Transport Workers Union Local 100, who’s political director Marvin Holland said is heavily concentrated in the district, is going in the other direction.
“We think that she’s a very viable candidate in that district,” Mr. Holland explained to us earlier this evening. “We just think she’s a very good candidate in this race, she’s the type of young progressive that we’re looking to try and help them in their careers. Probably more importantly than anything else, she’s been very, very good on transportation issues.”
“This is not a knock on Rhoda, who’s been a friend of mine,” he added.
Despite the disclaimer, the move might step on a few toes, as Ms. Jacobs has won plenty of allies, including Brooklyn’s Democratic establishment and the Assembly’s powerful speaker Shelly Silver, who appointed her to Assistant Speaker in 2003. However, this isn’t the first time TWU has backed challengers to incumbents — the union was one of the few to endorse State Senator Adriano Espaillat’s congressional campaign against Charlie Rangel earlier this year, for example.
“Sometimes that gets us in trouble with the establishment, but we try and stay true to our membership,” Mr. Holland said. “One of the things we try and do is work with our membership and try and put together a process where we are actually supporting candidates that are actually grounded in the community. That’s why we might do someone like Espaillat over Rangel, it’s nothing against Rangel.”
And Ms. Bichotte may need all the help she can get. Turnout is likely to be low on September 13th with little else of note on the ballot, and immigrant communities inevitably have low turnout. For her part, Ms. Jacobs is a frequent guest on her colleague Dov Hikind’s post-Shabbos radio show and has been urging the Jewish community to demonstrate their political voice by making an impact on Election Day. The unpredictable turnout here has left a relatively unpredictable race just two weeks before voters head to the polls.