Williams resoundingly loses NY Democratic Primary for governor

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams speaks at a campaign rally.
Williams Campaign for Governor of New York

Caribbean American candidate for Governor of New York Jumaane D. Williams Tuesday night resoundingly lost in his bid to unseat incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul in the New York Democratic Primary.

Williams, New York City’s Public Advocate and son of Grenadian immigrants, ran a spirited campaign as a left-leaning candidate, but was unable to unseat Hochul in a three-way race that also involved US Congressman Thomas R. Suozzi, a centrist from Long Island.

Hochul, New York’s first female governor, won the primary in a landslide, receiving 574, 608 votes, or 67.6 percent, according to preliminary results.

Williams was a distant second, receiving 164,337 votes, or 19.3 percent, while Suozzi garnered 110,888, or 13 percent.

Though he lost badly, the results showed that Williams put up his best fight in Brooklyn, where there is the heaviest concentration of Caribbean immigrants, receiving 39 percent of the votes to Hochul’s 53 percent and Suozzi’s 9 percent.

In Manhattan, Williams received 24 percent of the votes to Hochul’s 67 percent and Suozzi’s 10 percent. In Queens, Williams obtained 23 percent to Hochul’s 60 percent and Suozzi’s 17 percent. And in the Bronx, Williams received 21 percent of the votes to Hochul’s 67 percent and Suozzi’s 12 percent.

Hochul even beat Suozzi in his native Nassau County in Long Island, securing 62 percent of the votes to Suozzi’s 30 percent and Williams’s 7 percent.

However, the governor, a native of Buffalo in upstate New York, close to the Canadian border, performed best in Erie County that involves update New York, receiving 84 percent of the votes, to Suozzi’s 9 percent and Williams’s 7 percent.

“We are at a pivotal moment in New York and need a governor who is ready to fight for us through this time of fear and uncertainty,” Williams told Caribbean Life Monday night. “Throughout my career as a community activist, Council Member, and as New York City Public Advocate, I have centered the voices and priorities of working people and marginalized communities.”

He said that if he was elected governor, he would be “an advocate for all New York families and communities in our shared struggle for justice and equity – regardless of zip code.”

Williams said he was “fighting to get results for working families” and to ensure that Albany, the state’s capital, “works for all New Yorkers, not just the billionaire class.”

On Primary Day Tuesday, he vowed that he would fight, as governor, “to make sure everyone has access to affordable housing, a good-paying job and guaranteed quality healthcare.

“Whether you’re Black or white, Asian or Latino, from upstate or downstate, no matter who you are or where you live, I will fight hard for you,” Williams said.

Among the leaders who endorsed Williams at a rally in lower Manhattan on Monday were anti-gun violence advocates, including Nantasha Christopher, whose son was shot and killed in 2012; and Constance Malcolm, the Jamaican-born mother of Ramarley Graham, who was shot dead by cops in his Bronx, New York apartment.

Malcolm said she was “proud to endorse Jumaane Williams for Governor of New York.

“We must have a governor who has been in the streets with us as we fight to protect all of our young people against excessive use of force by police,” she said. “My own son, Ramarley Graham, was taken from me by the NYPD (New York Police Department), a horrible tragedy no one can imagine. ‘

“As a ‘Mother of the Movement’, I’m proud to endorse Jumaane and support his call to invest one billion dollars in public safety funds to stop another mother from going through what I went through, and what too many of us have gone through,” Malcolm added. “Please get out and vote.”

Since first taking public office in 2010, Williams said gun violence has been a cornerstone of his work.

In 2012, he co-authored a report that helped initiate gun violence prevention strategies that “made New York City the safest it had been in 50 years, prior to the pandemic,” he said.

In 2013, Williams said he passed legislation to end the abuse of stop, question and frisk amid former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “escalation of the discriminatory policing practice.”

Williams said he has continued to help enact community-driven solutions to public safety over the last decade.

He said a trio of Assembly Members in New York City had endorsed his campaign for governor. They comprise Khaleel Anderson; Monique Chandler-Waterman, the daughter of Jamaican and Barbadian immigrants; and Phara Souffrant Forrest, Haitian-born, whose husband is Jamaican-born.

Chandler-Waterman – who was elected last month in the Special Election for the 58th Assembly District in Brooklyn that was represented, for about three decades, by newly-appointed US Ambassador to Jamaica, former New York State Assemblyman, Jamaican-born Nick Perry – was again on Tuesday’s ballot.

Chandler-Waterman – who soundly beat Hercules Reid, the son of Jamaican immigrants in her landslide victory in last month’s Special Elections – trounced him again in the Democratic Primary.

With all 64 election districts reporting, Chandler-Waterman received 62.46 percent of the votes to Reid’s 33.13 percent.

Chandler-Waterman said her story is “one of service – as a public servant, advocate and activist.”

A lifelong resident of the Brooklyn neighborhoods of East Flatbush, Canarsie, Crown Heights and Brownsville, Chandler-Waterman said her record of activism spans two decades.

She said her “tireless, community-first approach” has been a theme throughout her life, as she has “formed multiple block associations and founded a nonprofit, been an activist working to reduce crime and boost public safety, and a public servant working in the offices of former Assemblyman Nick Perry of District 58, former Council Member Jumaane Williams, and on the frontlines of the pandemic in the NYC Test & Trace Corps.”

Other victorious Caribbean candidates in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary were Haitian Assembly Member Mathylde Frontus in the 46th Assembly District in Brooklyn, who received 60.82 percent of the votes to Dionne Brown-Jordan’s 31.79 percent; and Souffrant Forrest in the 57th Assembly District, also in Brooklyn, who received 63.90 percent of the votes to Olanike Alabi’s 30.97 percent.

In the 24th Assembly District in Queens, Guyanese-born Albert Baldeo soundly lost to Assembly Member David Weprin in a three-way race.

Baldeo received 14.8 percent of the votes to Weprin’s 62.79 percent and Mizanur Choudhury’s 15.87 percent.

US Congressman Lee Zeldin, a conservative ally of former President Donald J. Trump, who won the Republican Primary on Tuesday, will challenge Gov. Hochul in November’s general elections.

“We cannot and will not let right-wing extremists set us backwards on all the decades of progress we’ve made right here, whether it’s a Trump cheerleader running for the governor of the State of New York or Trump-appointed justices on the Supreme Court,” Hochul told jubilant supporters at a victory party in TriBeCa in Manhattan Tuesday night.

“I’m deeply honored to be the Democratic nominee for Governor of New York. On to November!” she exclaimed. “It’s the honor of my life serving as your governor, New York. I’m humbled to accept the Democratic nomination and continue fighting to move our state forward — together.”

But Zeldin also told enthusiastic supporters in Baldwin, Long Island Tuesday night that: “This November in the State of New York, one-party rule will end, Kathy Hochul will be fired. We will restore common sense and balance to Albany.”