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Originally Published: August 22, 2014

Supports Challengers Leroy Comrie, Jr. and Dell Smitherman to Two Indicted State Senators

Issues Preferences for 3 Incumbents Including Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein 4 Challengers Including Robert Jackson and S.J. Jung & Candidates in 8 Open Seats

Citizens Union Chair Peter Sherwin and Executive Director Dick Dadey today announce Citizens Union’s candidate preferences in 15 competitive state senate and assembly races for the September 9th Primary Election.

Citizens Union made choices in 8 Senate contests. CU prefers three incumbent Senators: Jeffrey KleinJ. Gustavo Rivera, and Tony Avella and four challengers to incumbent Senators: Dell Smitherman over indicted Senator John Sampson, Leroy Comrie, Jr. over indicted Senator Malcolm Smith, Robert Jackson over Senator Adriano Espaillat, and S.J. Jung over Senator Toby Stavisky. In the open senate seat in district 20 formerly held by now Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Citizens Union prefers candidate Rubain Dorancy.

In seven open Assembly races, Citizens Union supports three candidates running for seats shaken by corruption or fraud:  Latrice Monique WalkerMichael Blake, and Guillermo Linares in districts previously represented by William Boyland, Jr., Eric Stevenson, and Gabriela Rosa, respectively. In three other seats where the incumbent is not standing for re-election, Citizens Union prefers L. Rickie Tulloch in District 42 (incumbent Rhoda Jacobs), Joanne Simon in District 52 (incumbent Joan Millman), and Gus Christensen in District 76 (incumbent Micah Kellner). CU also prefers Kim Council in the contest to fill the vacant Assembly seat once held by now City Councilmember Rafael Espinal.

Not surprisingly, but nevertheless notable, 2/3rds of all state legislative seats in NYC are uncontested in the September party primary election. 61 incumbents out of 91 total seats from NYC are not facing a challenger in possible party primaries. By each house, the number is 50% (13 of 26) for the Senate, and 74% (48 of 65) in the Assembly. Of the remaining 15 seats where there is a contest and Citizens Union didn’t evaluate the race, three are vacant seats and the other twelve are held by incumbents who face nominal challengers. In Queens, only 1 incumbent in the Assembly is being challenged, out of a total of 18 seats, which are all held by incumbents. Citizens Union chose not to evaluate the one Republican Party primary in Assembly District 46, currently held by Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny, deciding instead to evaluate that race for the November election.

“With the unfortunate rise in corruption in New York and the resulting withering public trust in our political process, it is so important that we educate voters on where candidates stand on good government issues,” said Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union. “Through an avid and prudent process, we evaluate candidates, placing our preferences with great care and thoughtfulness with the intention of supporting the election of those candidates best possible to serve their communities and the state in an honest and principled manner and who are reform-minded with a plan.”

Dadey further said, “As co-Leader of the Senate, Senator Klein has been an effective senate leader in a challenging power-sharing dynamic who is also an outspoken champion of campaign finance reform and strong supporter of the constitutional redistricting amendment.  Though we have supported John Liu in the past for elected office and are open to it again in the future, we decided to stick with incumbent Senator Avella, given his proven track record in the four years he has been in Albany.  We are all too pleased to also support challengers Leroy Comrie and Dell Smitherman over two indicted sitting state senators Smith and Sampson, both of whom are former leaders of the state senate. Adriano Espaillat, who Citizens Union was proud to support in 2010 when he first ran for senate, this time around prefers Robert Jackson, in part because of Senator Espaillat’s poor attendance record in Albany having missed 60% of all senate votes. We also liked Jackson’s energetic leadership. CU went with challenger S. J. Jung over long-serving but reform-minded incumbent Stavisky in part because of his appeal as a candidate with a strong track record of community activism seeking office in a demographically changing district. ”

In order to be eligible to receive a preference, candidates are required to fill out questionnaires and attend interviews, and all candidates in each race evaluated were given the opportunity to participate. A full list of our preference is at the end of this release.

As part of Citizens Union’s mission as a nonpartisan good government organization dedicated to making democracy work for all New Yorkers, we evaluate candidates based on their commitment to our reform agenda and their effectiveness in advancing these issues, as well as other issues affecting their communities. In alignment with Citizens Union’s top priorities, candidates were asked about their commitment to the redistricting reform ballot proposal, campaign finance reform, and how they would address the rise in corruption in Albany.

In our soon to be published 2014 Primary Election Voters Directory, Citizens Union will share candidate information along with our preferences in the Directory, disseminating copies to over 1,700 CU members and 1,000 copies to the public. The Voters Directory will be mailed out and dropped off at community centers throughout the city the week of September 1st, prior to the September 9th primary. In addition to the hard copy, there will be an online version available on the Citizens Union website here.


Senate District 33                J. Gustavo Rivera, incumbent, preferred
Senate District 34                Jeffrey Klein, incumbent, preferred
Assembly District 79            Michael Blake, preferred in open seat


Senate District 19                Dell Smitherman, challenger, preferred
Senate District 20                Rubain Dorancy, preferred for the open seat
Assembly District 42            L. Rickie Tulloch, preferred in open seat
Assembly District 52            Jo Anne Simon, preferred in open seat
Assembly District 54            Kim Council, preferred in open seat
Assembly District 55            Latrice Monique Walker, preferred in open seat


Senate District 31                Robert Jackson, challenger, preferred
Assembly District 72            Guillermo Linares, preferred in open seat
Assembly District 76            Gus Christensen, preferred in open seat


Senate District 11                Tony Avella, incumbent, preferred
Senate District 14                Leroy Comrie, Jr., challenger, preferred
Senate District 16                S.J. Jung, challenger, preferred

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