Dell Smitherman, the former 1199 SEIU political coordinator, has secured the support of New York Communities for Change and Make the Road New York’s political arm in his bid to unseat State Senator John Sampson.
Neither endorsement is a surprise because Mr. Smitherman is running with the lion’s share of union support–the liberal community groups and labor are close–but each group has new clout in the de Blasio era and is looking to continue to flex their political muscles.
“We’re proud to endorse Dell Smitherman, a key leader in the fight for a living wage,” Jonathan Westin, the executive director of NYCC, told the Observer. “Given the governor’s recent support of a local minimum wage, it is crucial to count on representatives who will continue to work towards a more equitable New York. We look forward to fighting along with Dell, to create more affordable housing, improve our schools and secure a living wage.”
NYCC, a left-leaning community organizing group that backed Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign last year, has a large membership in the black, working class sections of Mr. Sampson’s eastern Brooklyn district. Make the Road, an immigrant rights group, is also becoming more active and ambitious in local politics, particularly in the City Council.
“There’s no doubt that only one candidate in this race has the skills, experience, and passion we need to represent us in the State Senate,” said Walter Barrientos, the political director of Make the Road Action Fund, New York, the group’s political arm. “Dell Smitherman’s decades of experience as a community organizer and social advocate will help him bring change and deliver aggressive representation to a high-needs district.”
Mr. Sampson has been indicted twice on corruption charges and pleaded not guilty to both. A former senate majority leader, his clout is significantly diminished in Albany and he has struggled to raise money so far.
But the Brooklyn Democratic Party is remaining loyal to Mr. Sampson, sources say, and helping him petition. Mr. Sampson is also facing former City Council candidates Leon Miles and Sean Henry.
Mr. Sampson did not immediately return a request for comment.