Domo arigato, Mr. Mayor.
Democrats in embattled State Senator John Sampson’s Brooklyn district are getting robocalls from Mayor Bill de Blasio boosting Mr. Sampson’s rival Dell Smitherman, who Mr. de Blasio endorsed earlier this week.
The pre-recorded message started traveling over landlines to prime voters on Wednesday, just six days before Mr. Sampson–indicted and awaiting trial on a slew of embezzlement and bribery charges–will face off against Mr. Smitherman and homelessness advocate Sean Henry in the Democratic primary.
Mr. Smitherman is the former political coordinator for 1199 SEIU, which has close ties to Mr. de Blasio and his political allies–and Mr. de Blasio’s voice touted his and Mr. Smitherman’s shared agenda in the calls.
“I’ve known Dell for years, and I’ve seen him fight and deliver on issues that are important to our families, like creating good jobs, raising the minimum wage and passing paid sick leave legislation,” Mr. de Blasio said. “I know Dell Smitherman will be a champion on issues like affordable housing, improving our schools and making our streets safer.”
The calls are going out throughout Mr. Sampson’s turf, which includes the low-income minority neighborhoods of Brownsville and Canarsie, as well as Russian immigrant-heavy Sheepshead Bay. A source close to the campaign said this is because Mr. de Blasio is considered popular district-wide.
Mr. Sampson is struggling financially, with just over $7,700 cash-on hand as of last week’s filing–thanks mostly to a $15,000 loan he made himself. He does, however, have the support of the official Kings County Democratic Party and its chairman, Frank Seddio.
Mr. Smitherman has $45,500 in his war chest and the backing of his union and the Working Families Party–which have been battling with the county party establishment to control city and state offices.
Mr. Henry has not made the required filings since last month–an error his campaign said it intends to amend soon–but had $55,000 as of his last report.
Mr. Sampson told the Observer he remained nonetheless assured that voters would recall his history in the district send him to Albany for another term.
“The people of my district believe in me, support me, know of me and will vote for me on Tuesday,” Mr. Sampson said.
The full text of the robocall message is below:
Hi, this is Mayor Bill de Blasio calling you to let you know that I’ve endorsed Democrat Dell Smitherman for State Senate. I’ve known Dell for years, and I’ve seen him fight and deliver on issues that are important to our families, like creating good jobs, raising the minimum wage and passing paid sick leave legislation. I know Dell Smitherman will be a champion on issues like affordable housing, improving our schools and making our streets safer.
Dell will bring the positive, progressive change we need to Albany. This is Mayor Bill de Blasio. On Tuesday, September 9th, please join me in supporting Democrat Dell Smitherman for State Senate. Thanks very much.
Updated to include comment from Mr. Sampson.