A loss for real estate? Two more socialist candidates poised to win primaries

Phara Souffrant Forrest and Zohran Mamdani, both backed by DSA, are expected to unseat incumbents in Crown Heights, Astoria

TRD New York /
Jul.July 22, 2020 02:20 PM
Phara Souffrant Forrest and Zohran Mamdani (Instagram, Twitter, iStock)

Phara Souffrant Forrest and Zohran Mamdani (Instagram, Twitter, iStock)

It looks like the political landscape may only get worse for real estate.

Two more Assembly candidates backed by the Democratic Socialists of America are poised to unseat incumbents in Crown Heights and Astoria.

Phara Souffrant Forrest, a union nurse and tenant organizer, is now ahead by 2,500 votes for the Assembly seat in the Crown Heights district of Assembly member Walter Mosley, according to her campaign’s internal tally. In Astoria, Assembly member Aravella Simotas conceded on Wednesday afternoon to Zohran Mamdani, a foreclosure prevention counselor.

The campaigns’ results have not been certified by the Board of Elections. The absentee vote counts are expected to conclude later today.

The anticipated wins are the latest in a string of victories for the newly energized socialist left, which has waged insurgent campaigns in recent years centered on housing and tenant rights.

Mamdani’s platform includes the decommodification of housing and passing Good Cause eviction. Last year, Mamdani said he would “make a real issue of it” if Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie did not let pro-tenant legislation move forward.

Souffrant Forrest and Mamdani are far from the only progressives who have won — or are expected to — this primary season, paving the way for more legislation that will not be favorable for real estate investors.

Marcela Mitaynes, a tenant organizer in Sunset Park, shocked observers when she ousted longtime Assembly member Felix Ortiz in a four-way race.

Community activist Emily Gallagher prevailed in North Brooklyn over Assembly member Joe Lentol, who held his seat for nearly half a century. Lentol’s campaign conceded to Gallagher Wednesday morning.

Gallagher, though not endorsed by the DSA, had the backing of Souffrant Forrest, New York Communities for Change and former gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon. Her policy goals echo her DSA-backed counterparts in the Assembly, and include passing “aggressive” vacancy and pied-à-terre taxes, as well as Good Cause eviction, a measure which would limit rent increases that is opposed by the real estate industry.

Jabari Brisport, another DSA-backed candidate who made housing a centerpiece of his campaign, was leading his Crown Heights race after the unofficial election night results. Brisport’s opponent, Assembly member Tremaine Wright, raised significantly less money than the socialist, despite winning the endorsement of retiring state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery.


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