The pancakes and politics were piping hot at the Brooklyn Democratic Party breakfast fundraiser Thursday morning, drawing together New York power players including: Gov. Kathy Hochul, state Attorney General Letitia James, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
It was lost on no one that James, Williams and de Blasio are considering taking on Hochul in next year’s Democratic primary for governor.
Brooklyn Democratic Party chairman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn beamed as each of the politicians took turns speaking next to her. The current mayor and the Democratic nominee for mayor, the attorney general, public advocate, comptroller nominee Brad Lander and US Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, who was in DC, are all Brooklynites.
All the same elected leaders also attended the Bronx Democratic Party’s annual fundraiser Thursday night.
“It looks like Kathy, Tish and Jumaane are all running for governor,” said political consultant George Arzt, who attended both fundraisers.
The coronavirus was an after-thought — most of the more than 100 attendees at Junior’s restaurant in Downtown Brooklyn were maskless.
The Post asked James, whose devastating investigative report that found then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former staffers — leading to his resignation from office — whether she supported defunding the police.
A Post report on Wednesday revealed that Hochul hired Amit Bagga, a failed City Council candidate who supported slashing the NYPD budget by $3 billion, as a top adviser. Hochul’s hand-picked Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin also campaigned on cutting the NYPD’s budget as a failed candidate earlier this year for city comptroller.
“I’m having breakfast with my friends,” James said, sidestepping the issue.
James and Williams played nice with Hochul in stump speeches.
“It is an honor and privilege to be here with my great governor, Kathy Hochul. Give it up for Kathy Hochul,” James said. “This is all about pancakes and politics this morning, more on the politics less on the pancakes.”
Meanwhile, Adams, the Brooklyn borough president and former police captain, who won the Democratic mayoral primary by focusing on public safety, said, “I don’t believe in that,” when asked about defunding the police.
But he gave Hochul a pass, saying an executive can’t base a hire of a candidate based on disagreement on one position. Hochul herself is on record saying she’s opposed to slashing police funding.
“Well I don’t believe in that. But I think our state is diverse and we should have different people debate these issues to see what people believe. She’s the chief executive of the state so she has to make the ultimate decision,” Adams said.
“I don’t think she’s making appointments based on one position. If we make a decision based on one position on someone then we are going to lose a lot of people. So they can have an opinion but Kathy is the governor, and my understanding is Kathy is not for defunding the police and I believe she’s going to stay true to what she understands — the connection to prosperity is public safety.”
Williams, who is on the ballot for re-election in November, has set up an exploratory committee for a potential run for governor next year. He lost to Hochul in the 2018 Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.
But he praised Hochul for enforcing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
“I appreciate the governor pushing the mandate … and taking the hit. We all stand with you on that. And I want to make sure she is not there by herself. These vaccines should be treated simply like measles, mumps, rubella,” Wiliams said.
“Whoever could get exemptions from that should … but your rights don’t have don’t the right to affect my mother, to affect me.”
For her part, Hochul gave Williams a shout out during her remarks.
“I know our public advocate, Jumaane Williams, is here. Great job as public advocate,” she said with a laugh.
Hochul, a Buffalo native, vowed to help elect Democrats up and down the ballot across the state.
“I don’t like just to win by the way, I’m a little competitive. Up in Buffalo, you got a chip on your shoulder, you got something to prove all the time. We don’t just win elections. We crush them,” she said.
Later, during a COVID-19 press briefing at her Manhattan office, Hochul downplayed concerns about facing a primary challenge next year.
“I know the people of the state of New York have used phrases like ‘breath of fresh air’ in terms of my leadership style,” the governor said.
“I don’t have the time to be distracted by all the political noise. I truly do not.”
Other attendees included Councilman Antonio Reynoso, the Democratic nominee for Brooklyn borough president.
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