Schumer in Levin’s corner

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New York’s senior U.S. Senator Charles Schumer endorsed the youngest candidate in the 33rd District City Council race, Steve Levin, on the steps of Borough Hall in downtown Brooklyn, praising his work while serving as Chief of Staff to Brooklyn Assemblymember Vito Lopez (D-Williamsburg).

“He is a very capable person, the kind of person we need in city government,” said Schumer, noting Levin’s work with reducing lead paint in homes, creating affordable housing, and working with labor leaders at the state level.“Put it all together and you get Steve Levin.I think he will follow in the footsteps of David Yassky.”

Levin, joined by nearly a dozen members of his family and several close friends, said he was deeply humbled, honored and inspired by Schumer’s endorsement, and singled out Schumer’s work shepherding Judge’s Sonia Sotomayor during the Senate confirmation hearings.

“During the confirmation process, one senator stood out.As a direct result, children throughout the city can look into a mirror and say, you know what, one day, I can be a justice on the Supreme Court,” said Levin.

Schumer also noted that Levin is a cousin of his colleagues U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan) and Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Michigan). He praised the latter as helping draft legislation to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq as a member of the Armed Services Committee.

“Senator Levin is one of the class acts of the U.S. Senate.Carl speaks very highly of his cousin,” said Schumer.“If Steve can be one-tenth the public servant Carl is, he will be better than anyone else running.”

The endorsement is among the most significant in the 33rd District race to date, as Levin adds Schumer to a growing list of elected officials, unions, and community leaders.The other six candidates in the race include Boerum Hill residents Jo Anne Simon and Ken Baer, Brooklyn Heights residents Ken Diamondstone and Doug Biviano, and Williamsburg residents Evan Thies and Isaac Abraham.

So far Levin has collected endorsements from Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the League of Conservation Voters,The United Federation of Teachers, The DC 37 AFSCME AFL-SEIU. The New York State Court Officers Association, The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, The New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, the local chapter of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the Working Families Party. Lopez, also Chair of the Kings County Democratic Party, was the first elected official to back Levin.

Other candidates in the race appeared surprised that Schumer would make an endorsement almost six weeks before the Democratic primary, though it is an indication that the race is generating high interest among Brooklyn political circles.

“Honestly I have no idea why Chuck Schumer is coming into this City Council candidacy, especially endorsing someone he has no knowledge of,” said Abraham.

Biviano questioned the endorsement in an e-mail sent to supporters on August 7, asking whether Schumer was “popping Albany pills.”

“The reason Levin continues to pile up these farce endorsements is because he is politically connected through his name and his position as Vito Lopez’s chief henchman,” said Biviano. “Because of who he knows, and the smoke-filled backrooms he has access to, he’s been able to skate along as a presumed front-runner in this race despite a complete lack of accountability in the media.”

Incumbent councilmember David Yassky, who used to work as Schumer’s chief of staff, is expecting Schumer to endorse him in his race for City Comptroller, but that announcement will have to wait for a later date.

“David is working to gain Chuck’s support and working to gain every voter’s support throughout the city,” said Yassky campaign spokersperson Danny Kanner.“We believe that David is going to win and we will have the most votes on election day.”

Updated 3:34 pm, October 19, 2011
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