Easy Ride back to Congress for Clarke


Republicans have given up on the race for the congressional district that stretches from central Brooklyn south to the inlets of Jamaica Bay, and Rep. Yvette Clarke won an easy victory.

She did have an opponent, Conservative Party candidate Alan Bellone. But the race in New York’s Ninth Congressional District could not have been more one-sided, with Clarke getting 92 percent of the vote.

For starters, Clarke can be considered as a legacy. Her mother, Dr. Una S.T. Clarke, was a member of the City Council. As the child of Jamaican immigrant parents, Yvette Clarke has lived all her life in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. She was elected to the city council in 2001 and to Congress in 2006.

Belllone has run repeatedly and unsuccessfully for public office, and he has no website and little web presence. He attended Kingsborough Community College in the early 1980s and was reported to be the president of the Sheepshead Bay T-shirt company “A Stich Above.” He could not be reached for comment and the Brooklyn Conservative Party did not return emails seeking information about his candidacy.

Clarke has a well-established profile as one of the more liberal Democrats in Congress. She is also supported by the pro-labor Working Families party.

Clarke has favored access to safe and legal abortion options without restrictions. She received a 100 percent rating from NARAL’s Pro-Choice America. Another interesting stance that Clarke has taken was in January 2014, when she was rated 75 percent by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law’s (NORML), indicating a pro-legalization position.

The contributors to Clarke’s campaign also tell an interesting story. The two major contributors are Services Employees International Union (SEIU), which donated $15,000, and AT&T Inc., which donated $10,500.

SEIU is a major union representing service employee; overall, labor is the top donor to Clarke at $110,000, according to OpenSecrets.org. AT&T is among many communications companies donating to Clarke; this industry gave $102,000.

Clarke serves on the House’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. Donors include Cox Enterprises, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and Comcast Corp. Clarke received a 100 percent rating from the Communications Workers of America.

Ronnie Sykes, Clarke’s communication director, did not respond to questions for this story.

Voters were resigned to the lack of a real race.
“Which one’s the Democrat?” said 52-year-old Laurence Tucker, who lives in Canarsie. “I’ll most likely go all the way in that case.”

Tucker said he was a long-term supporter of the Democratic Party.

“All you hear is about Trump and Clinton nowadays, that’s all I hear really,” said 23-year-old Jackie Park, a Brooklyn College Student taking a semester off. She said that she keeps up with the presidential election only. “ Usually when you vote, you end up picking everything you go with anyway.”

Photo: Rep. Yvette Clarke, a Brooklyn Democrat.

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