Citing family reasons, out gay Queens City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer abruptly pulled out of the special election race for borough president.
The Queens lawmaker said in a written statement posted on Twitter January 21 that “family circumstances have been weighing on me for some time, causing me to consider the timing and feasibility of this campaign.”
“Prioritizing my responsibilities as a son and brother is where my attention needs to be right now,” Van Bramer added. “While this is a difficult decision, this is the right one for me and my family at this time.”
Van Bramer’s sudden departure from the race — two months ahead of the March 24 special election — follows a string of key endorsements that appeared to inject significant momentum into his campaign to replace Melinda Katz, who was elected Queens district attorney after eking out a narrow primary victory over out queer public defender Tiffany Cabán and prevailing in the general election. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and former gubernatorial candidates Zephyr Teachout and Cynthia Nixon, who is an out lesbian, were among those who threw their support behind Van Bramer, along with activist Shaun King and out gay former Manhattan State Senator Tom Duane. Other notable backers included out LGBTQ City Council candidate Marti Gould Cummings, who is seeking a Manhattan seat in 2021, and trans activist Cecilia Gentili.
“I will of course continue to fight for the working people of our borough and city every day in the New York City Council and beyond,” Van Bramer said.
Van Bramer, who entered the race with an emotional launch video about overcoming homophobia during his youth, was shaping his campaign around a progressive platform in a race featuring Queens Councilmembers Donovan Richards and Costa Constantinides and former Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, among others. Less than a week before exiting the race, Van Bramer told Gay City News that his recent string of endorsements “clearly demonstrates we are the progressive insurgent in the race.”
Van Bramer is currently serving his third term on the City Council and is term-limited from running again in 2021. His political ambitions beyond that point are not immediately clear, though the Queens Eagle reported in July that Van Bramer would not rule out — should Katz not win the DA primary and stay on as borough president — a 2020 primary challenge against Assemblymember Cathy Nolan. Time will tell whether a whether a 2022 challenge is in the offing.