Political activist and executive director of the Bay Ridge Democrats, Jamie Kemmerer, will formally announce his bid to represent the 22nd District in the State Senate on Monday, challenging 12-year Republican incumbent Marty Golden for his seat.
“The speculation is true. There’s a lot of work to be done, and we’re going to try and put [an announcement] out on Monday,” Kemmerer, 41, told us by phone today, confirming a report this morning by City & State that said the small business owner and Ridge resident was considering a challenge.
The Bay Ridge Democrats, a progressive Democratic club that has seen its influence rise after becoming an early backer of Bill de Blasio during the mayoral campaign, voted to endorse Kemmerer last night. Kemmerer has not yet filed a committee with the state, but said he will do so soon.
City & State reported:
Kemmerer has never run for public office before, but already local officials are expected to throw their weight behind his candidacy, including Councilman Vincent Gentile, who took over Golden’s Council seat after losing his Senate seat to him in 2002. Kemmerer made some waves in February after accusing Golden of “money laundering” by spending large amounts of campaign contributions at his brother’s catering hall in Bay Ridge.
Kemmerer told us that he not only has the backing of Gentile already, but that the Bensonhurst-Bay Ridge councilman, who has been engaged in a longtime rivalry with Golden, was key to influencing him to run.
“I had been approached by some district leaders [including Joanne Seminara, chairperson of Community Board 10 and the female Democratic District Leader of the 60th Assembly District] and thought about it a bit but wasn’t sure if now was the time,” explained Kemmerer. “I certainly believed someone should run against him. Then Gentile asked me to do it as well, and given all the recent issues with corruption and campaign finance questions, some of which you’ve reported on, and some of the other things going on, I began thinking about it more seriously. Putting all those factors together, it’s something that I think is important to do.”
Kemmerer is a Pennsylvania native who moved to Brooklyn with his wife approximately a decade ago. He runs a marketing and technology firm, and blogs on a personal website about politics affecting Bay Ridge residents.
Between servicing clients and the cries of his 21-month-old son, Kemmerer declined to discuss details of his platform or his thoughts on Golden until the Monday announcement.
However, he did note that a top priority for his campaign will be addressing ongoing concerns stemming from Superstorm Sandy, which hit a large portion of the district, including Gerritsen Beach, Sheepshead and Manhattan Beach.
“I’ve been very active in Hurricane Sandy work. I’m a founding member of the Brooklyn Long-Term Recovery Group,” a community organization that helps steer victims to resources, he said. “Issues around Sandy, and not just the immediate issues of getting people back in their homes, but about resiliency and infrastructure, are important to me, and that will be at the top of the list.”
He also said he will campaign for fair elections and ethics reform in Albany.
Golden, the only Republican state senator in Brooklyn, has coasted to victory with only marginal opposition in most elections during his tenure. That changed in 2012 when Andrew Gounardes, also out of the Bay Ridge Democrats, mounted a heated campaign featuring feisty debates and well-coordinated attacks told through press releases and campaign literature. Golden won out, but with a relatively narrow margin. He racked up 58.1 percent of the vote to Gounardes’ 41.9 percent.