Jason Salmon picked up the endorsement of Council Member Carlos Menchaca in his bid for the 25th Senate District on Monday, gaining his first major backer as he attempts to succeed his former boss, longtime Senator Velmanette Montgomery, in her western and central Brooklyn seat — if she retires.
Menchaca’s 38th Council District overlaps with Montgomery’s 25th Senate District in Red Hook and western Sunset Park. In an interview with Bklyner, he said that he sees his existing relationship with Salmon, from his time as Montgomery’s community liaison, presents the opportunity for fruitful collaboration between the two levels of government.
“When I’ve seen the most powerful thing happen in government happen, is when people partner up and really, with shared values, attack issues and respond to crisis moments together,” Menchaca said. “And that’s the opportunity that I’m excited about, and that’s why I’m really excited to come out and endorse Jason. That’s what Red Hook and Sunset Park need.”
Salmon said that his experience working with Menchaca while a staffer for Montgomery had been positive as well, discussing an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to get a rent abatement for NYCHA residents who spent the 2016 holidays without heat. He said that despite it being an “uphill battle,” the council member had been “super receptive” and a “strong partner.”
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“It’s about building community and building a coalition and I believe Carlos and I can do that very well in Red Hook and Sunset Park,” Salmon said.
Menchaca is the first elected official to endorse Salmon’s bid, and his first major backer. Salmon unsuccessfully sought the endorsement of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which is backing his primary opponent, Jabari Brisport.
Salmon identifies as a socialist, though he stresses that he is a “community activist and progressive leader first,” and that he’s a socialist in the sense that he’s campaigning “for equity in every single layer of our society.” Menchaca said that while he is not a member of the DSA, he “share[s] similar values” to the group.
While Menchaca doesn’t bring the organizing power of the DSA, he nonetheless represents a leftist voice endorsing his campaign. Menchaca in October was one of four Brooklyn council members to vote against the borough-based jails plan from the left (Salmon said that if he were in Menchaca’s shoes, he probably would do the same), and he has repeatedly said that he would reject the proposed rezoning of Industry City if investments aren’t made in the broader community and if the owners disregard community input.
As for why he chose Salmon over Brisport, Menchaca said it was “personal.”
“This is one of those things where you follow your gut, in these moments where you endorse someone,” Menchaca said, “and pull whatever resources that you can to let people know that if you enjoy the work that we’re doing in the city council through my representation, this is the kind of representation you’re gonna get at the state level.”
Brisport did not respond to a request for comment.
Montgomery, who has served since 1985 and is currently the longest-tenured member of the State Senate, has not publicly announced whether or not she will retire at the end of the current term in 2021. Both Brisport and Salmon have said that they would not run against Montgomery if she decides not to retire. Montgomery did not respond to a request for comment from Bklyner.
Senate District 25 consists of Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy, Boerum Hill, Park Slope, Gowanus, Red Hook, and bits of Park Slope, Ocean Hill, Crown Heights, and Prospect Heights (see map below).