In Brooklyn, Williams Simply Overwhelms Stewart

If you wanted to talk to Jumaane Williams yesterday afternoon, you had to risk getting trampled by students and parents

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If you wanted to talk to Jumaane Williams yesterday afternoon, you had to risk getting trampled by students and parents near P.S. 269 on Nostrand Avenue.

The school had just let out and Williams stood near the school entrance, offering his palm card to anyone passing by. Many people already had their hands full of literature from the other candidates running, which included incumbent Kendall Stewart. Williams, on more than one occasion, would reach his hand into the pile of cards a prospective voter was holding, pull out his own palm card, and place it on top of the person’s stack.

Williams, whose race was a priority for the Working Families Party, beat Stewart, the incumbent, by about 1,000 votes. It was a six-way primary.

“I have a blister under my foot right now,” Williams said, stressing to me how important it was to contact voters directly. “This is my second pair of shoes on the campaign.”

Two major issues Williams focused on were Stewart’s support for extending term limits, and the fact that two of Stewart’s staffers pleaded guilty to stealing public money. Stewart himself has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

But without much media attention, few predicted Williams would prevail. There were six candidates on the ballot, and that usually benefits the incumbent, whom many interest groups usually avoid challenging directly.

The one main perk Williams had was his support from the Working Families Party, which helped bolster his operation on the ground. Throughout the course of the day, Williams told me he would have about 250 to 300 in the field campaigning. That advantage did not go unnoticed.

A woman handing out fliers for Stewart said their campaign was being outnumbered at P.S. 269, 11 to Williams’ 15.

Stewart’s supporters roamed Nostrand Avenue wearing orange t-shirts. One church on Nostrand proudly displayed three Stewart campaign signs on their front door.

The Working Families Party has been criticized by opponents for allegedly skirting campaign spending and reporting rules to benefit candidates they’ve endorsed.

Williams scoffed at the notion.

“The people talking about it the most are the people who didn’t get their endorsement.” Williams said he was “proud” to have the W.F.P.’s support, and that he “paid for all my services. I got the bills to prove it. So, that’s what I have to say about that.”

When I asked if voters or anybody else was raising the issue, he said, “only the people who didn’t get their endorsement, who actually went to the interview to get the endorsement.”

In Brooklyn, Williams Simply Overwhelms Stewart