Jim Owles Rescinds Morales Endorsement, Backs Wiley for Mayor

The Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club is supporting Maya Wiley in the race for mayor.
Reuters/Eduardo Munoz

While the Dianne Morales campaign for mayor faces allegations of union-busting and other labor issues, at least one queer political club is going in a new direction.

The Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club has ditched Morales in favor of Maya Wiley, who previously served as counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio and was chair of the Civilian Complaint Review Board. The club settled on the Wiley endorsement during an emergency meeting, according to a June 1 announcement.

“Workers’ rights are an essential tenet of our progressive club and our champions must not only profess our values, but live them in their own public and private lives,” club president Allen Roskoff said. “And so with a heavy heart, we rescind our endorsement of Dianne Morales.”

He added, “However, the club is proud to throw its support behind another highly qualified and historic candidate with impeccable progressive credentials and an abiding dedication to systemic progressive change.”

The club is planning on campaigning for Wiley and will distribute more than 32,000 mailers for her across 11 City Council districts, according to Roskoff.

“We call upon the progressive community to unite and make history by electing her as the city’s first Black and first woman Mayor,” Roskoff said.

Shortly after the announcement, Wiley welcomed the club’s support.

“I will set our city forward on a path to better days for everyone,” Wiley said in a tweet. “I’m honored to have the endorsement of @JimOwles, which has been at the forefront of advocating for the needs of LGBTQIA New Yorkers, as we work to create a New York City that is truly a city for all!”

During the club’s mayoral forum last October, Wiley recalled her experience as an attorney working on cases at the intersection of homophobia and the HIV/AIDS crisis. One of her first cases as a civil rights lawyer, she said, included an client living with HIV who was getting evicted from his home and fired from his job.

In Jim Owles’ mayoral questionnaire, Wiley committed to abolishing the NYPD’s vice squad — which has a reputation for targeting sex workers and entrapping gay men in adult establishments. However, Wiley does not support the full decriminalization of sex work. She said in that questionnaire that she supports removing criminal penalties for sex workers, but not for buyers, and she distanced herself from the issue by saying she does “not intend to engage in this fight in Albany, as this is a state legislative issue.” (A bill has been proposed in the State Legislature to comprehensively decriminalize sex work).

“As mayor I commit to listening and partnering to ensure that we are making real and meaningful change for trans sex workers,” Wiley wrote in the questionnaire.

The abrupt endorsement shift came less than a month after the club endorsed Morales, who also landed the endorsement of the Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn (LID).

The mayoral race has had its share of twists and turns for LGBTQ political clubs. The Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City and LID initially endorsed the campaign of Comptroller Scott Stringer, but after he was shrouded in allegations of sexual misconduct, LID pulled the endorsement and backed Morales. Stonewall, meanwhile, failed to attain the two-thirds majority required to overturn the endorsement of Stringer in a controversial vote that prompted multiple members to leave the club.

LID, at least for now, is not planning to rescind the Morales endorsement — but the club is directing its efforts to City Council races during an election cycle featuring a large slate of queer candidates.

“LID is first and foremost a club for queer people, run by queer people, and dedicated to getting queer people elected, and that’s what we will continue to focus on doing: getting our slate of queer candidates elected,” LID said in a tweet on May 28.

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