By Sabina Mollot
On Monday night, the Manhattan Democratic Party County Committee unanimously nominated Urban Justice Center attorney Harvey Epstein for State Senator Brian Kavanagh’s vacated Assembly seat. However, the vote, held by about 200 county committee members at the Sirovich Senior Center, was technically already decided ahead of time when the two other Democrat candidates in the race, Sandro Sherrod and Mike Corbett, withdrew.
Corbett, a City Council aide and former president of New York Young Democrats, announced on Monday morning he was withdrawing and giving his support to Epstein.
In an email blast, he said it was clear Epstein had more backing from the party.
“I was especially honored to have the support of so many of you in this race,” wrote Corbett. “However, as we approach the County Committee vote tonight, I believe that the result is no longer in doubt. My friends, to paraphrase the musical Hamilton, I don’t have the votes.”
Asked later about his own plans, Corbett said, “I’m not sure what the future holds. I will continue to be active in the Democratic Party and in my community.”
Sherrod, the former chair of Community Board 6 and longtime employee of NYU Langone, made similar statements at Monday’s vote.
“I’ve gotten to know Harvey better because of this campaigning process and there were a lot of commonalities,” said Sherrod. “We both served as chair of the community board for land use, but unfortunately for me those commonalities do not extend to the weight of the vote this evening, so I hope you will join me in supporting him tonight.”
He later added that he thought Epstein would make a good representative for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.
Epstein, an East Village resident who also serves as a tenant member of the Rent Guidelines Board, said he was “honored” to have their support as well as the other members of the county committee. He also got the nod from the Working Families Party.
“I appreciate everyone who came out to the County Committee vote and showed their support for me and I look forward to serving our district in a productive way,” Epstein said.
Because it’s a special election, the county committee vote was held instead of a primary and the general election will be held on April 24.
Epstein will then face off against East Village resident and district leader Bryan Cooper, who on Monday evening received the backing of the Manhattan Republican Party.
Cooper, who had no Republican opponents, has previously run against Kavanagh in 2014 and in 2008.
“Bryan has been a tireless advocate for the Republican Party in his district as vice president of the Vincent Albano Republican Club,” said party chairwoman Andrea Catsimatidis. “I am thrilled that he will be representing our party in the special election as a small business owner and community activist who will fight for the residents of the 74th District.”
Meanwhile, over the past week, Epstein received a handful of endorsements, most recently from State Senators Brad Hoylman and Liz Krueger, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Councilwoman Carlina Rivera. The East Side senators and the City Council members announced their support for the candidate last Thursday. A day earlier, Epstein had been endorsed by Public Advocate Leticia James and on Monday, he received the support of City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
“As a community leader on the Lower East Side for over two decades, Harvey Epstein has proven time and again that he is of the people, by the people, for the people,” said Johnson.
Hoylman said, “Harvey Epstein will be a strong progressive partner in Albany, working with me to fight for seniors, working families and all residents of the 74th Assembly District. I’ve known Harvey Epstein for years and I’ve personally witnessed his leadership for tenants and seniors including his incredible work on the rent freeze program.”