Brooklyn Democrats are slated to gather in September to choose a successor to their current chairman, Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who’s vowing to keep his seat despite accusations he sexually harassed female employees.
Lopez is the latest in a series of fallen party leaders in Brooklyn.
He took the helm of one of the country’s largest local Democratic groups in 2005, when its leader, Assemblyman Clarence Norman was convicted of soliciting illegal campaign donations. Norman was later convicted of extortion and served time in prison and in a work release program until earlier this year.
Norman’s immediate predecessor, Howard Golden, departed honorably. But prior to Golden, the long-serving Meade Esposito, considered a Kings County kingpin, was convicted in an influence-peddling scheme.
Today, county political leaders don’t wield the power they used to, thanks to political reform in the late 1980s. But they still have what amounts to veto power over the selection of many electoral candidates, especially judges.
Lopez said he will not seek re-election as head of the Kings County Democratic Committee.
On the short list to succeed Lopez is Karim Camara, a Crown Height Baptist minister who took over Norman’s Assembly seat in a 2005 special election. Also in the running are Jo Anne Simon, a reform candidate, and Frank Seddio, a former Assemblyman and retired police officer.