Jan. 21, 2020 By Christian Murray and Allie Griffin
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer announced Tuesday that he is dropping out of the race to be Queens Borough President.
Van Bramer, in an email released by his campaign this morning, cited family reasons.
“Prioritizing my responsibilities as a son and brother is where my attention needs to be right now,” he wrote.
“My family is the reason I love this borough and its residents,” he said. “They are the ones who instilled Queens values in me and inspired me to be an advocate for working families. But family circumstances have been weighing on me for some time—causing me to reconsider the timing and feasibility of this campaign.”
An important message about our campaign: pic.twitter.com/WEvrk0j1UM
— Jimmy Van Bramer (@JimmyVanBramer) January 21, 2020
Van Bramer was the first to announce his bid for the seat vacated by Melinda Katz.
He positioned himself as the progressive candidate fighting against the “Queens Machine” party establishment and earned several endorsements from notable progressives including gubernatorial candidate and “Sex and the City” actress Cynthia Nixon, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and law professor Zephyr Teachout.
As an outspoken opponent of the Amazon HQ2 deal in his district, the Council Member doubled down in his campaign for Borough President and committed to take zero money from the real estate industry.
However, his record on those points was scrutinized at a recent forum in Sunnyside by fellow candidate and Council Member Donovan Richards — after Richards, who supported the Amazon HQ2 deal, was accused of being the billionaire’s candidate.
Richards, who is accepting real estate contributions, criticized Van Bramer for his history of taking contributions from developers.
While Van Bramer did not take real estate contributions in his campaign for borough president, he has taken large sums from the industry in the past, according to filings.
For instance in the 2017 election cycle his campaign received a significant amount from the owners and employees of large New York real estate companies — including those based in his district in Long Island City.
Van Bramer’s relationship with the Queens County Democratic Party — also known as the “Queens Machine” — was also questioned by Richards, who was endorsed in this race by the party.
Richards noted that Van Bramer endorsed Joseph Crowley, the long-time head of the Queens machine, over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the 2018 primary.
In addition to endorsing Crowley in the Congressional primary, Van Bramer’s 2017 campaign also contributed funds to the party and party-backed candidates.
Following Van Bramer’s announcement to drop out of the race, Richards complimented his former opponent in a tweet.
“@JimmyVanBramer has always added breadth to the discourse on the future of Queens and I know that he will continue to do so.”
@JimmyVanBramer has always added breadth to the discourse on the future of Queens and I know that he will continue to do so. Family should always be a priority. My thoughts are with him and his at this difficult time.
— Donovan Richards (@DRichards13) January 21, 2020
On Tuesday, Van Bramer said that he would continue to battle for the people of Queens in his campaign statement.
“I will, of course, continue to fight for the working people of our borough and city every day on the New York City Council and beyond,” he said.
The special election for Queens Borough President will be held on March 24. The winner will serve the remainder of Katz’s term through the end of 2020.
However, there will be an election for the borough president again in November, with the primary for that race in June. Despite dropping out, Van Bramer will have the opportunity to run again.