Williams a possible 2018 Democratic challenger to Cuomo

A Caribbean American legislator in Brooklyn is the latest name to surface as a possible 2018 Democratic primary challenger to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, according to reports.

Brooklyn Democratic Councilman Jumaane Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, who is considered one of the City Council’s farthest left, told the New York Daily News that he’s been approached by various people asking him to think about a run for governor.

Williams did not rule it out, even though he said currently he is “100 percent solely focused” on running for the City Council speakership that opens in January, according to the Daily News.

But he added, “it’s hard in politics to use the ‘never’ word.”

“There have been serious people speaking to me about it,” he said of the governor’s race, without identifying those encouraging him. “We’re at a time where people are afraid. People are worried and looking for people who are not afraid to stand up and speak truth to power. I’m just honored that people would think of me in that way.”

Actress Cynthia Nixon, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and former Hudson Valley state Sen. Terry Gipson have also been mentioned as potential Cuomo primary challengers, the Daily News said.

Williams has been a councilman since 2010, co-created the council’s progressive caucus and has been an outspoken critic of the New York Police Department (NYPD) policies, the Daily News said.

He said he believes it is important that a candidate come from New York City to cut into Cuomo’s city base of black, Latino and liberal Democrats, according to the paper.

“I think we’re in some pretty dangerous times, and the governor isn’t helping; so it’s, important that somebody at some point step up to say the emperor has no clothes and really push the guy,” said Williams, criticizing Cuomo for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) mass transit crisis, accusing the governor of “emboldening a Republican state Senate majority” by not doing enough to reunify fractured Senate Democrats, and ridiculing Cuomo’s support for charter schools and big-money hedge fund donors.

Charles Galbreath, senior pastor of Clarendon Road Church in East Flatbush, Brooklyn said the minority community is looking for someone “who can step up and speak for our community.

“I think he’s someone who has the ear of the people and a lot of people who are dissatisfied with what’s taking place in Albany [the state’s capital] currently,” Galbreath told the Daily News.

But Cuomo’s campaign chairman, Bill Mulrow, defended the governor’s progressive credentials, citing the passage of a US$15 hourly minimum wage, creation of a statewide paid family leave program, raising of the age of criminal responsibility, enactment of free college tuition for people making up to US$120,000 and environmental protection actions, according to the Daily News.

“This governor doesn’t talk about progressive issues, he actually gets them done,” Mulrow said. “Gov. Cuomo has the strongest progressive record of any elected official in this country — period — and we look forward to building on that record in the third term.”

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