1:00pm January 20, 2012

Robert Cornegy: The Next of Brooklyn’s Finest?


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.”

About the Author

Charles Ellison
Charles D. Ellison, Managing Editor for Politic365.com, Washington Correspondent for The Philadelphia Tribune and a weekly political analyst providing insight on WDAS-FM (Philadelphia), WVON-AM (Chicago) and KSRO-AM (Sonoma County, CA). He is author of the critically-acclaimed urban political thriller TANTRUM. More information can be found at http://www.cdellison.com



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  1. Kevin Harewood

    I wonder what is the agenda of the author of this piece when he immediate puts Robert Cornegy in line for congress. Isn’t that disrespectful to people like Charles Barron and Hakeem Jeffries who are running against Towns THIS year by assuming they are going to lose?
    Also isn’t it insinuating that Rob is just a puppet? Ron was visible doing key things in our community before he was reeled in by more established powers and I for one am betting that he will continue such activity whether he is Councilman Assemblyman or just another private citizen

  2. Brooklyn Brown

    Well I would have to say that history has shown that pitting someone as a shoe in for a race is a strategy that often works in the opponents favor due to a backlash. Now I do feel confident about Roberts Cornegy's agenda for the betterment of this community and it has been earned by Robert's constant "VISABLE" efforts to shine light on the issues that directly affect us. As for the writer's "informants" I can't lend a valuable ear to such speculation…. For me,,Politics is built on speculation,,,but how often is the work professed truly visible?? Well Rob is a good man,husband and father,,a leader in his community,,a supporter of local artists and small businesses,,a fighter for our youth,,and an all around good person to both the young and old. When you work that hard and have that much going for you then you really don't need to be " ushered" in,,,,, it's just hard not to "see you coming." I wish Robert the best..

  3. aime

    He's the man for the job… Robinson is smart woman.

  4. K Hampton

    We have to remember, this article is merely one person utilizing his right to "freedom of speech." This article has the necessary ingredients to spark flames (positive and negative). I choose to not focus on the sensationalism, speculation or hearsay of these words, but focus on the consistency of Robert's character (even when the lights and camera's are off). As a former pro athlete, I understand the power of words. They are like the seeds of a mustard plant.

    Robert Cornegy Jr, is a big man with a big heart. Having spent extensive time with the Cornegy's, I can say with confidence… Robert Cornegy Jr has never allowed fame, fortune or status, change who he is or what he stands for. KH

  5. Charlene

    I will NEVER vote for a man who sees his son as a political liability!!!!

  6. [...] to talk, other people began to depart from the church. Mr. Boyland spotted Robert Cornegy, a Democratic district leader and potential Assembly candidate in [...]

  7. Robert Cornegy, I need your email address so that I may send you an invitation to Tau’s Eagle Ceremony in January. bstroop259@gmail.com

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