It was the folks at PolitickerNY who first broke the story that longtime New York state Assemblywoman Annette Robinson was about ready to call it quits and fall back into the anonymity of retirement. Independent sources confirmed this was the case, with Politic365 also getting word on what is turning out to be an interesting bit of political musical chairs once it’s all said and done.
Robinson represents Assembly District 56, an area of some of the most political and socially charged of all places for this to happen: Brooklyn, Bedford-Stuyvesant (some of these spots inked in cinematic infamy and known to many outside of New York circles as setting for the cantankerous Spike Lee classic Do The Right Thing). What’s also striking is how the succession is already planned, with an anonymous aide to Assemblywoman Robinson confirming that her district leader Robert Cornegy is set to take her place. Another source also confirmed that to Politic365, as well.
Succession politics in Brooklyn is no new thing, with the Democratic machine there pretty much running the show for generations. But how this pans out could have national implications, as well. What exactly is Cornegy being groomed for? Are there tickets for the next Acela train to Washington? Could there be an effort to ease into current Rep. Edolphus Towns’ (D-NY) 10th Congressional district seat?
It’s all game theory, of course. Folks in Brooklyn are tight-lipped these days. No one wants to step on any big toes. But, by all accounts, Cornegy is on a fast track. Only days shy from New Year’s Day 2012, he found himself elected as President of the Vanguard Independent Democratic Club of Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn. “I was humbled to be ushered in by long time Leaders Congressman Major Owens, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Assemblywomen Annette Robinson Assemblyman Roger Green District Leader Walter Mosley and none other than Councilmember Al Vann,” says Cornegy, rattling off a list of Brooklyn majors in what amounts to nothing short of a warning shot to any would-be challengers.
Interestingly enough, Cornegy ran a spirited, yet unsuccessful campaign against Al Vann back in 2009 in the City Council’s 36th District. “However, my not winning the Brooklyn City Council Seat will not in any way deter my commitment to serving my community and empowering people who live in central Brooklyn,” wrote Cornegy on his blog at the time. Patience – mixed with a bit of standing in line – pays off.
The 48-year old Cornegy’s meteoric rise to prominence in Brooklyn can only fuel speculation about the future of Towns, who was plucked from Capitol Hill leadership when fellow House Democrats decided he was too soft to take on incoming Government Reform Committee Chair Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the wealthy, telegenic west coast Republican who is itching to find a scandal within the Obama Administration. Instead, Towns – who was just Chair of that same Committee before the GOP rushed in like mad Scotsman – found himself ceremoniously dumped by colleagues who openly defied the party seniority system, picking Baltimore brawler Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). That move ensured an effective Hill blocker for President Obama. Towns shrugged. It was what it was. He’s still king of Brooklyn.
Could Cornegy’s sudden rise, and the chatter in Brooklyn about him, bring us any closer to knowing who will take the Congressman’s place when retirement nears (barring any unforgiving Brooklyn-baked scandal)? That’s the real talk – maybe. Well … names keep getting thrown about in that question, and there is no definitive answer. It most definitely, at this stage, won’t be former reality TV kid wonder, self-described “hip hop intellectual” and reformed woman-slapper Kevin Powell, who has ran a perennial Congressional campaign against Towns since the mid-2000s. With little fundraising, lack of organization and an inability to connect with the 10th District’s senior citizens (who, ultimately, make final voting decisions) Powell, obviously, didn’t make the district machine cut. The 6’10” dreadlocked, sharply-suited Cornegy, Jr., in some ways, does.
“Even my size 16 shoe may have some difficulty fitting in those footsteps,” said Cornegy back in 2009 when running for Al Vann’s City Council seat, describing icons such as Shirley Chisolm and others who served as models for the under-50 up-and-comer. “But I have spent years getting ready, mentally, spiritually and experientially for this post.”