SEIU Split in Central Brooklyn State Senate Race

1199 broke with its sister SEIU branch 32BJ by endorsing Rubain Dorancy over Jesse Hamilton to fill Eric Adams' vacant State Senate seat

Rubain Dorancy shows off his ballot petitions with supporters.  (Photo: Twitter/@RubainDorancy)
Rubain Dorancy shows off his ballot petitions with supporters. (Photo: Twitter/@RubainDorancy)

The city’s largest labor power, 1199 SEIU, endorsed education activist Rubain Dorancy today in his bid to fill now-Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’s vacant former Senate seat–breaking with the union’s other powerful New York branch, 32BJ, which backed Mr. Adams’ former aide Jesse Hamilton earlier this month.

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1199–representing healthcare workers–endorsed Mr. Dorancy along with a slate of other candidates, vowing to put the full force of their 250,000 members behind the contenders. The union vowed its chosen candidates would get a number of liberal issues passed next year, including college financial aide for undocumented immigrants and public financing of elections.

“Just as the caregivers of 1199SEIU worked relentlessly to elect Mayor de Blasio and help key Congressional candidates win their primaries, we now are going to be putting the full force of our union into ensuring a strong Democratic majority in the legislature,” said chapter president George Gresham.

Mr. Dorancy’s camp welcomed the support, arguing it was a sign of strength and of the candidate’s liberal bona fides.

“This endorsement is proof our campaign is gaining momentum. 1199’s membership is made up of the most politically active residents in New York City,” said campaign manager Mutale Nkonde. “We are deeply honored for 1199’s support and look forward to working with them to let voters in the district that Rubain Dorancy is the clear progressive choice.”

Mr. Hamilton’s team brushed off 1199’s decision, noting that former counsel to Mr. Adams has the backing of 32BJ–which represents property workers like office cleaners and doormen–along with other labor powers and Tenants PAC and New York Communities for Change.

“One endorsement won’t change the fact that Jesse Hamilton has the momentum in this race. Jesse has the right ideas to move Brooklyn forward on the issues most important to working families–affordable housing, quality healthcare, and a robust economy that lifts up all New Yorkers,” said spokesman Nathan Smith.

To date, Mr. Hamilton has received the endorsements of Mr. Adams, Communication Workers of American Local 1180, Heat and Frost Insulators Local 12, the Bridge and Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association. Mr. Dorancy has the support of Congresswoman Yvette Clarke and her mother, former Councilwoman Una Clarke.

Brooklyn Community Board 9 member Demetrius Lawrence is also in the race, but has yet to secure any major endorsements.

A split between 32BJ and 1199 is hardly unprecedented. In 2012, 1199 endorsed Brooklyn Republican State Senator Marty Golden, while 32BJ backed his Democratic challenger Andrew Gounardes.

As of the July filing, Mr. Hamilton had raised a little more than $100,000, and has roughly $88,500 cash on hand. Mr. Dorancy collected $58,500 and now has more than $66,000 in his war chest. Mr. Lawrence apparently failed to submit his campaign finance records by the July deadline.

The central Brooklyn seat has been vacant since Mr. Adams ascended to the borough presidency in January.

SEIU Split in Central Brooklyn State Senate Race