A Win & A Loss For Two Caribbean-American Lawmakers

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New York State Senator John Sampson of Brooklyn, NY.
New York State Senator John Sampson of Brooklyn, NY.

News Americas, BROOKLYN, NY, Weds. Sept. 10, 2014: Guyanese-American New York State Senator John Sampson last night declared victory in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary challenge despite federal embezzlement charges but Jamaican-American Queens Sen. Malcolm Smith, was not as lucky.

Sampson, a former Democratic majority leader, easily defeated his three challengers with over 7,000 votes or more than 54 percent, meaning he’s likely headed toward an easy re-election in November unless he’s convicted in a federal trial.

The Brooklyn lawmaker beat Dell Smitherman, a former political coordinator for the health care workers union 1199 SEIU, who was endorsed by both New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, managed to secure only 3,981 votes.

“We had the governor, the mayor and some of my colleagues in the Assembly who didn’t want to see this happen,” a thrilled Sampson told supporters at the Thomas Jefferson political club in Canarsie Tuesday night. “Prosperity breeds friends, adversity proves it. It is going to be a different John Sampson.”

Sampson has been indicted for stealing $400,000 from victims of foreclosure to fund a previous campaign for District Attorney and using his Senate seat to try to influence $88,000 worth of tax credits for a liquor store he secretly owned.

But while Sampson survived, Queens Lawmaker, Senator Smith, wasn’t as lucky. Smith, who has pleaded not guilty to bribery charges, was trounced by former City Councilman Leroy Comrie, a fellow Jamaican-American. Comrie won the seat with 9,314 votes or 69 percent compared to 18 percent or 2,530 for Smith.

“This win is a huge triumph and now I am looking forward to getting to work,” Comrie said in a statement.

Smith had represented the 14th District in Queens, home to many Caribbean Americans, for more than a decade.  His trial for bribery and wire fraud ended in a mistrial earlier this year. He was indicted for allegedly offering bribes to get Republicans to allow him to run for mayor on the GOP line in 2013. His new trial starts in January.