January 21, 2020: Citing personal reasons in a statement released this morning, Jimmy Van Bramer announces he is dropping out of the Queens Borough President race. At last week’s Queens BP forum in Sunnyside, there was no hint of such trouble while Van Bramer scuffled enthusiastically with Queens Machine darling Donovan Richards over Amazon, bail reform and gentrification.
But today’s announcement follows months of neighborhood murmurings about Van Bramer’s quiet dissociation from his progressive base, despite his having been a soldier on the front lines in last year’s local fight against Amazon: it was as if he could not quite square his progressive past (albeit a shaky one: never forget 5Pointz) with his broader political aspirations.
And what better step for any ambitious Queens politician than Borough President? Until this morning, one could have argued the QBP race was JVB’s to lose: after all, he was the first to announce he was running for it and it seemed the perfect next move for this homegrown borough son.
So, what went wrong?
Although Twitter has already pondered this a.m. if the Queens Machine “made Jimmy an offer he could not refuse”, I think it’s more that Jimmy felt on his neck the hot dragon breath of more comfortable progressives like Costa Constantinides and Anthony Miranda.
Maybe Van Bramer did not expect such strong competition, especially from Miranda, whose campaign is being managed by AOC’s former campaign manager Vigie Ramos-Ríos and rising progressive activist Nick Haby.
Van Bramer will land on his feet for his next step whether aided by the Queens Machine or not. It’s a completely different Queens from when JVB first started his political career, a Queens which may no longer fit him and in which he may find he no longer fits. Progressive progrowing pains: it’s now a race between Costa and Miranda.
Queens wins either way.