Assembly Democrats’ plot to to undo will of Brooklyn voters

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Word is the Assembly’s huge Democratic majority means to vote against seating Assemblyman-elect Lester Chang, the Republican winner in Brooklyn’s 49th District, unless he can satisfy their gripes about residency issues. They have the legal power, but it sure looks like disenfranchisement over sour grapes.

Do Speaker Carl Heastie & Co. really want to defy the will of the district’s voters — many of them Asian?

Chang upset 26-year incumbent Assemblyman Peter Abbate Jr., long-time chairman of the Assembly’s Labor Committee and a favorite of public-employee unions.

State law gave Abbate ample opportunity to challenge Chang’s residency long before the Nov. 8 election. He didn’t — though he raised the issue plenty during the campaign, repeatedly claiming his opponent lived in Manhattan and telling Chang to “go back where you came from.”

Lester Chang
Lester Chang upset 26-year incumbent Assemblyman Peter Abbate Jr.
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A pretty charged thing to say to an Asian-American, don’t you think? Especially when it seems that it was the endorsement of the Asian Wave Alliance that put Chang over the top.

Peter J. Abbate Jr.
Peter J. Abbate Jr. is a favorite of public-employee unions.

We have no idea if this is mainly just an Albany lifer desperate for a chance to hold on, or a party faction (whether progressives or the Brooklyn Democratic machine) angry that voters opted for a Republican, or what. Heastie will still have a supermajority no matter what; is saving Abbate (maybe) worth alienating Asian voters — not just in the district but city- and even nation-wide?

Refusing to seat Chang will force a special election, where the insider would normally triumph. But this rank a power play could easily backfire, rallying huge Asian turnout for some other Asian-American Republican picking up the banner.

Democrats claim to be the party of “preserve our democracy,” but this ploy suggests it’s more “preserve our privileges and power.”

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