Alice Cancel tapped by Democrats for special election

File photo by Tequila Minsky Alice Cancel is the Democratic nominee for the April 19 special election to fill the 65th Assembly District seat vacated by former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver after his conviction on federal corruption charges last year.

File photo by Tequila Minsky
Alice Cancel is the Democratic nominee for the April 19 special election to fill the 65th Assembly District seat vacated by former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver after his conviction on federal corruption charges last year.

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON  |

Longtime District Leader Alice Cancel was overwhelmingly nominated by County Committee members to be the Democratic nominee in the April 19 special election to succeed former Assemblymember Sheldon Silver.

Cancel won on the first and only round of voting, held at the Educational Alliance, at 197 E. Broadway. Around 185 County Committee members weighed in. Known as “weighted votes,” the final tally was 5,772 for Cancel, 1,770.5 for Paul Newell, 605 for Jenifer Rajkumar, 93 for Yuh-Line Niou and zero for Gigi Li.

The weighted vote was determined by the level of the turnout in different parts of the district for Gov. Cuomo in his general election in 2014.

The district includes Lower Manhattan, Chinatown, Little Italy and the Lower East Side and stretches up into Soho and a small part of the East Village.

Calling the nominating process “flawed,” Niou dramatically dropped out of the running after concluding her five-minute speech to the members.

“I am withdrawing from this flawed process — and look forward to sharing my vision for Downtown in April and in September with all those who have no voice here, but who need and deserve so much from their Assemblymember,” Niou said, emphatically raising her hand above her head.

Most understood that she dropped out because she didn’t have the votes to win. Niou recently was endorsed by the Working Families Party and intends to run as a third-party candidate in the special election on the W.F.P. line, and will run in the September Democratic primary election, too.

Rajkumar, similarly, in her remarks to the crowd slammed the process as “undemocratic.”

“Indeed, many of us came here today with our marching orders handed to us,” she said.

Some in the crowd noted disapprovingly that if Rajkumar and Niou had had the votes to win, they wouldn’t have complained about the process.

In her brief acceptance speech after the final vote figures were announced, Cancel told the committee members, “It’s going to be a great challenge. This is just a hurdle. There is still more to go.”

Afterward, speaking to The Villager, she said, “I’ve been a district leader for many years. I will now have to do it on a bigger level. I’ll have a bigger district to cover.”

She said that housing, the environment and schools will be among her top issues.

Cancel defended the nominating process, saying, “The people that came in this room are all community people.”

For his part, Newell said he had turned down an offer by the Independence Party to run as a third-party candidate on their line in the special election.

Setting his sights on the September primary, another candidate, Don Lee, did not participate in the County Committee process and did not address the members at Sunday’s gathering. He had earlier issued a statement slamming the special-election process.

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