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Gianaris Faces Challenger in 2020, Centrist Group Forms to Combat Left-Wing Dems

Justin Potter with his son Orlando (Photo: Justin Potter)

June 23, 2019 By Shane O’Brien

State Sen. Mike Gianaris faces a challenger in next year’s Democratic primary.

Justin Potter, a Long Island City resident, announced the launch of his campaign to represent the 12th Senate district recently, arguing that people can no longer count on Gianaris to take a pragmatic approach to policymaking.

Much of Potter’s criticism stems from Gianaris’ handling of Amazon as well as the lawmaker’s sudden shift to the left.

Potter, a self-described stay-at-home dad, said that Gianaris played a major role that led to the tech-giant’s decision to abandon its plans to create a Long Island City campus. The campus, advocates said, would have brought as many 25,000 jobs to Long Island City and boosted the local economy.

He started a ‘Defeat Gianaris’ movement soon after the deal collapsed. He created a website and has gained a twitter following. The movement subsequently led to the creation of Citizens for Queens, a centrist group he and others plan to grow within the Democratic party.

Citizens for Queens has just started raising money for Potter’s campaign.

Potter said that Gianaris has lost his way by attempting to curry favor with the left wing of the Democratic party, which has gained strength since the election of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He labeled Gianaris an ‘opportunist,’ noting his last minute support for Tiffany Caban who is running for Queens District Attorney as an example.

New York’s 12th State Senate district covers the neighborhoods of Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood and Woodhaven.

Potter said Gianaris ignored the polling evidence that showed strong support for the Amazon deal in Long Island City and other parts of Queens.

“We believe Senator Gianaris is more interested in scoring political points than he is in protecting the long-term viability of our community. We need a representative who will embrace and leverage extraordinary opportunities,” Potter said.

Gianaris, along with a multitude of other Queens Democrats, opposed the Amazon deal on the grounds that the company would receive $3 billion in state and city financial incentives and was anti-union.

Potter, who was a registered Republican until making the switch this year, said that his former party affiliation should not undermine his campaign. He said he was registered with the GOP so he could have a say on the direction of the Republican party. He said that he has always voted for the Democratic candidate in presidential elections.

The catalyst for making the switch was his decision to run for office, he noted, since the winner of the Democratic primary traditionally wins the general. However, he said his beliefs are more aligned with the Democrats in any case.

For instance, Potter expressed his support for the legislation that permits undocumented immigrants to get a driver’s license. He also fully supports recreational marijuana and backs climate change legislation.

Potter also said that he supports congestion pricing, but that it needs to be done in the right way. He said it would wreak havoc on the local area, for instance, if people were to drive to western Queens, park their cars and ride the subway into Manhattan.

Potter said he helped form Citizens for Queens in April, in response to the party going too far left in his mind. The group plans to field candidates in other Democratic primaries and raise funds for them.

Gianaris, in a statement, said that he welcomes a challenge and noted Potter’s previous Republican affiliation.

“I successfully fought Republicans and their agenda over the last several years and I look forward to doing it again in this campaign,” he said. “I am confident my record protecting our neighborhoods from further displacement and fighting for better subways and delivering justice for tens of thousands on New Yorkers will be recognized by the voters.”

The primary will take place in June 2020.

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38 Comments

Justin Potter

These comments from folks who probably consider themselves “progressives,” denigrating a father taking the lead on childcare are something else.

I own an e-commerce business that I started in 2005. When we were expecting our first child, I re-organized the business so I could take care of our child (now children) while still running the business. This allowed my wife to better pursue her career, which involves travel, and long and unpredictable hours.

We’re extremely fortunate we could do this. There is no disputing that. However, I also don’t think that there is any disputing that if we want to see more equality in the workplace, more husbands and fathers need to step up and take the lead on childcare, as wives and mothers have done for generations.

Dads, don’t let folks like “Charles Castro” and “Skip Seglipse” discourage you from taking the lead on childcare and supporting your wife in her career if you can make it work. I have no regrets whatsoever.

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Harry Potter

You’re only mad because you thought your business would have benefited if Scamazon came. That’s as selfish as Mad Cow Bowen!

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Mick

Amazon was just going to outsource for most of those jobs. They sure weren’t for the local community. Not to mention that Long island City is overcrowded now as it is. They have already destroyed a lot of the great views of the city because of a another stupid building being put up. And oh yeah, they’re ripping you off lovely

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anonymous captain

That is completely ridiculous. It is astounding you can’t understand how a trillion dollar company would create jobs here. Even if all 50K employees were outsourced, which they wouldn’t be, the jobs created to service those people and the construction would have been thousands of jobs. And as far as overcrowding, thats the politicians job- not amazons. You don’t tear up the lottery ticket because its too hard to be rich. I can’t wait to not vote for Gianaris/ Job killer Van Bramer. With any luck we get to push people like you out for good. You know where my campaign donation is going.

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Anon

Make sure to vote in the primary this week, Caban is a threat to anybody that owns property in Queens. She should only be your candidate if you are a convicted felon currently residing in state prison.

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Balance

Queens, and all of NY, needs a healthy two party system. Gianaris had his time in office. He did some good things, and some not so good things (Amazon). Time for someone new. Time for different perspectives. Not just the same one party rule. People criticize when it’s one party Republican rule, and the same is true for Democratic one party rule. There needs to be a balance. I’m not hopeful. People in NYC think they are so progressive, when actually they are just as intolerant of any different view point as any Republican Trump supporter. Although, they will never admit it.

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Harry Bingham IV

Very true. Leftists never admit their own intolerance. And that intolerance is epic. I did not use the term liberals because true classical liberals would never be so intolerant of an opposing view. What we have now are stone-cold leftists and it’s their way or the highway.

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Please tell us more about tolerance while you generalize about more than half the country

Still not sure what it has to do with the comment you’re replying to. Do you know where you are, or you just copy and paste your cute little rant all over the website?

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Anon

The jobs were not guaranteed. It’s so frustrating how people keep harping on this Amazon thing when, guess what? They increased their presence in NYC anyway without all of the handouts.

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Potterthealtrighthipster

He chased away amazon tech nerd hipsters from outside NY that were going get those jobs and price out the locals.

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MRS LIC

The best part of this is that the photo of this dude is not even in Queens. That’s obviously taken on Roosevelt Island.

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Basta

Looks like Queensbridge to me, a place where this bro posing as a NY’er would probably never venture after dark.

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MRS LIC

Nope. It’s definitely the Queensborough Bridge, but it is also definitely the Roosevelt Island power plant just north of the bridge by Firefighters Field.

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Time to go

Good luck to him. Gianaris does not deserve to be in public office after the way he behaved during the Amazon deal. He was uninformed, strident and unprofessional. He acted against the wishes of the majority of people in the district. He lied when he said the Amazon was receiving $3 billion. It was a tax incentive over 10 years that would have been made up by the taxes paid by the new employees and the other new businesses (restaurants, etc.) and services that would have been created. Time for this short-sighted fool to go.

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Basta

Seriously? So the taxes Amazon wouldn’t pay would have been “made up by the taxes paid by the new employees and other (local) businesses”? And you are OK with this concept? Do you have a brain?

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Crawdad

He’s one of the folks responsible for kicking Amazon and its 40,000 jobs out of Queens to score political points, so I’ll definitely be voting against him. And I’m progressive-leaning.

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No bagels for Sunnyside until it behaves

Check the voting habits of Litchfield County Connecticut (Potter’s home turf). CT may be a blue state stronghold, but not that corner. It ain’t pretty — and it definitely ain’t Queens.

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Basta

Exactly. I was going to ask where this clown actually came from, and this answers my question (and I’m not surprised). This guy is a Republican trying to pretend he knows something about Queens and longtime Queens residents? Pathetic.

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ugh

so because his family raised him in a red corner of the tri-state he is automatically a republican? By that logic, no one is who they say they are – they are the situation they involuntarily participated in at the hand of whomever raised them.

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Go Away

I mean…it’s right in the article above, “Potter, who was a registered Republican…”

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hooked on phonics worked for me

WAS is past tense. Trump WAS a Democrat once… did you vote for him because of his history?

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P. Beadle

Shouldn’t the headline be “Republican Creates Faux Democrat Group to Challenge Democrats” ? I mean that is what’s happening here. Here’s a Republican who is ignoring how Amazon tried to milk us for all it could get, a company we now know is nevertheless going forward with increasing its presence to NYC and bringing those jobs anyway, without the bribe, who is trying to scaremonger about “Lefty” Dems. I guess one good thing about all this is maybe we’ll see who the true Democrats are. Its been an open secret here in Queens that many “Democrats” are really Republicans who register Dem because “that’s what you do.” So a bit of clarity might come from all this and we can weed out the fakes.

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Gardens Watcher

Have fun with yourself deciding who’s “true Democrats.” It’s a big tent party, not a pup tent party with a bouncer at the door.

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Jason

It’s not “too far left” when y’all kept becoming more like Republicans. High time our elected officials came back to who WE really are.

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Independent

Glad to hear someone is challenging Gianaris. I’m still angry about his opposition to Amazon.

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Jimmy Van

To Potter: keep the word out, and remind people in the weeks up to the election and you will see votes.

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Skip Seglipse

This guy is a loser. Unemployed with no platform except he doesn’t like Gianaris.

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The SAHMs will lynch you.

Just gonna take your post and put in on FB in a SAHM group. Hope they don’t figure out where you live.

And what exactly do you do for a living??

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Charles Castro

As much as I dislike all current electeds in my district ,I have two questions. Where are you from, how long do u live in Astoria? You’re a stay a home dad? Really?

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Basta

I totally agree. There should be a 15 or 20 year residency requirement to run. And, by the way, that is a requirement that I wouldn’t be able to fulfill myself, but I wouldn’t be so arrogant as to run for office and claim that I knew what was best for longtime residents.

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CanWeAlsoReplaceJVB

Gianaris is the worst type of politician. I welcome any moderate who seems to have a head on their shoulders to step up

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