Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn (D-Brooklyn) speaks at the New York State Democratic Convention, Feb. 17, 2022.

Hiram Alejandro Durán/ THE CITY

The Brooklyn Democratic Party’s War With Itself

Self-dealing, faked signatures and ghost candidates have blighted what was already a brutal fight for control of the state’s biggest local political organization.

On election day this past November, as Democrats nationwide fended off predicted challenges from Republicans, blue New York instead saw a red wave. Nowhere was this more pronounced than in Brooklyn, home to the Kings County Democratic Party, one of the largest local political organizations in the country. In one neighborhood, Bensonhurst, Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul lost to Republican Lee Zeldin by 32 points — a 54-point swing from 2018. How did this happen?

Many journalists have explained Brooklyn’s red wave by looking at the effects of redistricting and state-wide fears over crime and education, for example, but only George Joseph and Yoav Gonen dug into how the actual practice of democracy at the grassroots level shaped outcomes.

Over the course of a year-long, multi-part investigation, George and Yoav exposed how the leadership of “County” used forged signatures and “ghost” candidates, among other anti-democratic maneuvers, to retain power in the face of insurgent bids.

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February 22, 2022 01:57 PM