Newly-elected 45th Assembly District Leader Ari Kagan will celebrate the launch of his new democratic club tonight. Called Bay Democrats, Kagan said his goal is to unite Southern Brooklyn’s democratic factions under one banner.
The grand opening will take place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Bainbridge Center, 3093 Ocean Avenue. Kagan expects approximately 150 supporters to join him, along with a slew of elected officials from around Brooklyn and New York City.
Kagan, a Russian-American reporter and activist, unseated 24-year incumbent District Leader Mike Geller during last month’s primaries. The district leader position, listed on the ballot as the Member of the State Democratic Committee, is an unpaid, nongovernmental representative. District leaders help pick the party’s chairman, appoint judges, provide on-the-ground support for local campaigns and hire poll workers.
Though advertised as a “unity” club, Kagan’s base so far looks a lot like the emerging conservative Democratic blocs dominating recent elections, primarily comprised of right-leaning Russian immigrants and Orthodox Jews. Leaders of both communities are expected tonight, along with leaders of the Asian and African-American communities, who Kagan helped rally to Ben Akselrod’s side in his failed bid to win the democratic primary against Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz.
The base might be founded in conservative democratic politics, but Kagan said he’s up to the challenge of rallying support for candidates he calls “modernist progressive.”
He’s already endorsed left-leaning candidates including congressional candidate Mark Murphy and State Senate candidate Andrew Gounardes.
“In each case, I’m explaining my reasons for support, like with [Congressman Michael Grimm, whose name has surfaced in several corruption investigations],” Kagan told Sheepshead Bites. “It’s not like I’m doing it out of the blue.”
The event is expected to attract several members of the Highway Democratic Club, the centrist group led by Geller. Kagan also said Akselrod, Gournardes, Murphy, Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Frank Seddio, congressional candidate Hakeem Jeffries, Comptroller John Liu, Councilmembers Michael Nelson and David Greenfield, State Senator Diane Savino and Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein will all be in attendance.