BY PAUL SCHINDLER | Three of the four out LGBT members of the State Assembly faced challengers in this week’s Democratic primary, but all prevailed easily, two of them by massive landslides.
In the West Village’s Assembly District 66, veteran lawmaker Deborah Glick beat back a bid by longtime gay, anti-war, and environmental activist Jim Fouratt, capturing roughly 80 percent of the vote.
Fouratt, who took the ballot line for which Democratic district leader Arthur Schwartz had gathered petition signatures before dropping out citing health issues, charged that Glick, who made history in 1990 as the first openly LGBT elected official in New York State, failed to provide community leadership on issues such as the 2010 closing of St. Vincent’s hospital and opposition to a high pressure natural gas pipeline on Manhattan’s Far West Side.
Glick cited her long record on women’s health issues, including reproductive choice, and as chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Higher Education. With a broad swath of endorsements, not only from elected officials but also community groups and leaders, Glick dismissed Fouratt for having no clear base of support, noting he had not gone through the process of winning voters’ signatures on his own petition but rather stepped in for Schwarz.
On the Upper West Side and in West Harlem, 69th District Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell easily turned back a challenge from Steven Appel, whose background was at a financial literacy nonprofit. First elected in 2002, O’Donnell is best known in the LGBT community for leading the Assembly to passage of the state’s marriage equality law in 2007, four years ahead of the Senate’s embrace of the issue. Though O’Donnell, who won nearly 80 percent of the primary vote, faces a Republican opponent in November, Stephen Garrin, the heavily Democratic district seems headed to giving O’Donnell an eighth term in Albany.
In Rochester, 138th District Assemblymember Harry Bronson, the first out gay legislator from upstate New York, survived a more spirited challenge than Glick or O’Donnell faced, capturing about 54 percent of the vote against a former local television reporter, Rachel Barnhart, who left her TV job to mount the race, according to democratan
In November, Bronson, who was first elected in 2010, will likely face off against Republican Peter Vazquez, though unofficial results in the GOP primary have him up by only 20 votes. Vazquez’s at-his-heels rival is Bob Zinck, who already has the Reform Party line in the race. This is Vazquez’s third run for the Assembly seat.
In the Bronx, an anti-gay member of the City Council, Fernando Cabrera, lost his second consecutive bid to unseat State Senator Gustavo Rivera, a progressive LGBT ally who first won election in 2010. Cabrera, whose embrace of homophobic politics included a trip to Uganda, where he broadcast a YouTube tribute to legislators there who were pushing a harshly anti-gay measure that in its earliest incarnation included the death penalty for sodomy, won just 37 percent of the vote, below the level he achieved when challenging Rivera two years ago.
In recent weeks, Rivera charged that Cabrera’s campaign had illegally allocated donations that could only be used in a general election campaign in his primary challenge. The funds in question were contributed by a married couple in New Jersey long affiliated with anti-choice and homophobic political causes and a wealthy conservative businessman in Manhattan. Last week, Cabrera’s campaign declined to respond to Gay City News questions about the Rivera charges or the campaign donations.