By Sabina Mollot
Melissa Jane Kronfeld, one of two Republican candidates running for the City Council seat now occupied by Dan Garodnick, has dropped out of the race.
Kronfeld, better known as “MJ,” offered no explanation for her change of heart after having been an active candidate, even participating in a debate co-hosted by Town & Village at Waterside last month.
The self-described “progressive Conservative” announced her withdrawal in an email to supporters on Thursday evening and in a Twitter post.
“It is with great humility and gratitude that I am writing to let you know I will no longer be seeking the City Council seat in Manhattan’s District 4,” she said. After expressing gratitude to her supporters, she added, “I look forward to the next opportunity to continue my service to my community, city, state, country and all humanity in the months and years to come.”
On Friday, Kronfeld declined to comment further, saying the email was her statement.
However, the reason may have had to do with petitioning requirements for candidates who want to get on the ballot. The deadline to file a minimum of 450 signatures through petitioning was Thursday at midnight, and Kronfeld’s email came three hours earlier.
Adele Malpass, chair of Manhattan GOP, formerly known as the Republican County Committee, said she suspected this was the reason, but nonetheless said Kronfeld “ran a great race.”
Manhattan GOP has backed Kronfeld’s opponent, fellow Upper East Sider Rebecca Harary, who now won’t have to compete in a primary.
Malpass said she thought Kronfeld may have had problems getting enough signatures due to a lack of support within the district.
“It’s hard on the Republican side to do this. It’s hard to get on the ballot,” said Malpass. “You can’t stand outside of Whole Foods and get Republican signatures. You have to know step by step how to do this.”
Additionally, she noted, while a minimum of 450 signatures is required, anyone running in a primary really needs at least 1,000 more to ward off challenges. Malpass predicted there would have been challenges from both candidates.
Still, Malpass had some words of praise for Kronfeld.
“I think she’s got a bright future,” said Malpass. “I think she’s got passion and commitment and energy. I just don’t think she had enough people on the grassroots level to get on the ballot.”
Kronfeld, an Upper East Sider, was at one time a New York Post reporter. She later went on to start an organization called Party for a Purpose, aimed at helping charitable endeavors get funding.
Her council campaign was aimed at maintaining quality of life in District 4, creating more affordable housing, fighting sex trafficking, supporting charters and pushing for better job training in schools.
Kronfeld had raised a little over $38,000, as of May 15, with a balance of $10,697, according to Campaign Finance Board data, though she’d continued to fundraise since then.
Along with Harary, there are nine Democrats running in the September 12 primary.