New Challenger Emerges for Micah Kellner

Corey Evans. (Photo: Evans campaign)

Corey Evans. (Evans campaign)

Assemblyman Micah Kellner will have a fight on his hands if he wants to keep his Upper East Side seat.

Cory Evans, an adjunct professor at Baruch College and a former chess prodigy, will likely be joining the scrum of candidates challenging Mr. Kellner, a lawmaker reeling from sexual harassment allegations.

In a sign of Mr. Evans’ viability, a source close to the candidate said he’ll report having $250,000 in his campaign war chest today, a relatively imposing sum for an assembly race.

“I am exploring the opportunity to run for local office,” Mr. Evans said in a statement to Politicker. “The support I’ve received from community leaders, Democratic activists and donors has been incredibly encouraging.”
 
Mr. Kellner has been the subject of controversy since this summer, when sexual harassment allegations emerged as he was running for the City Council. Mr. Kellner eventually lost that race to now-Councilman Ben Kallos but did not have to give up his assembly seat in the bid.

Recently, Mr. Kellner was stripped of his committee chairmanship after an assembly investigation found him guilty of violating the assembly’s anti-sexual harassment rules. Mr. Kellner, who has maintained his innocence, is appealing the ruling and says the investigation was flawed and did not provide him due process.

As a relatively vulnerable incumbent, Mr. Kellner may draw as many as four challengers. Insiders in the district are also touting Gus Christensen, an investment banker, as another serious threat to Mr. Kellner. Other candidates include David Menegon and Ed Hartzog, creating a divided field that could split an anti-incumbent vote, benefiting Mr. Kellner.
 
But it’s still not clear what Mr. Kellner’s plans are. If he were to step down and Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls a special election, the local Democratic establishment will pick a nominee. Mr. Evans, a community board member with ties to the establishment, could be a front-runner for that nomination, sources said.
 
Mr. Kellner did not immediately return a request for comment.