Former Bloomberg administration official Samuel Pierre told the Observer that he is “99.9 percent sure” he will launch an independent bid for convicted ex-State Senator John Sampson’s Brooklyn seat—even though it would mean running against the likely Kings County Democratic Party’s candidate.
Mr. Pierre, who dropped a challenge against Mr. Sampson last year, had sought the backing of the Democratic establishment-controlled county committee charged with picking the party’s candidate in the special election fill the seat that most expect Gov. Andrew Cuomo to call in November. But sources tell the Observer that County Chairman Frank Seddio is planning to have one-term Assemblywoman Roxanne Persaud seek the seat—leaving Mr. Pierre “strongly considering” a run on a third-party line.
“I think it’s a matter of giving the voters the opportunity to vote for the candidate they think is the best candidate,” he said in a phone interview today, citing his past involvement in the district organizing around issues of joblessness and affordable housing. “Because I know the issues and I’ve been working with the community on these issues, because of my experience, I’m the best candidate.”
Mr. Pierre, who worked in former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Community Affairs Unit, pointed to the success earlier this year of Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, who defeated a County-backed candidate by running on Working Families Party line.
“I think candidates like Diana Richardson showed us that with strong backing, progressive backing, you can win,” he said.
Ms. Richardson’s victory, however, came out of a bizarre series of snafus which left the Democratic ballot line blank and the establishment candidate running on the Independence Party row. Mr. Pierre will almost certainly not enjoy the same freak circumstances, and would face overwhelming odds taking on a Democratic candidate in the deep blue district, though he said he will seek both the WFP and Independence lines.
The self-described “son of County” said he was also not worried about damaging his future political prospects, arguing that his longtime membership in Mr. Seddio’s Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club and past work as an aide to establishment darling Alan Maisel—who held Ms. Persaud’s seat in the Assembly before running successfully for City Council in 2013—will allow him to maintain a relationship with the Brooklyn machine.
“I don’t think my relationship would be severed if I make an independent run. I think it would show that our young leadership is strong,” he said. “I’m a Democrat at heart, I’ll always be a Democrat.”
Assemblyman Charles Barron, a popular and powerful figure in the East New York section of the district, considered and ultimately decided against an independent run. Mr. Sampson’s former turf is predominantly black, spanning neighborhoods like Brownsville and Canarsie, but also includes white enclaves like Mill Basin, Bergen Beach and Sheepshead Bay.
Mr. Sampson was found guilty in July of lying to federal agents in an embezzlement probe, and of threatening to “take out” witnesses who might testify against him.
Mr. Pierre is part of an emerging circle of Haitian-American politicians that includes his cousin, Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte. He currently serves as executive director of the Haitian-American Caucus, a nonprofit dedicated to that community’s issues.