June 5, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan
A flyer released by Melinda Katz’s campaign for Queens District Attorney lists Assembly Member Brian Barnwell as one of her endorsers–something the Assembly Member strongly refutes.
Barnwell said he did not endorse Katz—or anyone—in the hotly contested race. He took to Twitter yesterday, flatly stating “I didn’t endorse anyone.”
Staten Island Council Member Joe Borelli soon joined in the conversation, questioning Barnwell’s Twitter statement.
“Not what I heard… just sayin,” Borelli tweeted, to which Barnwell replied “Well you heard wrong Joe. Couldn’t have been any clearer actually.”
Well you heard wrong Joe. Couldn’t have been any clearer actually.
— Brian Barnwell (@Barnwell30) June 4, 2019
The flyer was released after a conversation was had between Barnwell and Katz where Katz and her team believed Barnwell had endorsed her. The whole incident has created some ill will.
“Months ago Assemblyman Barnwell had a conversation over the phone with Melinda where he offered his support,” said Katz campaign spokesperson Grant Fox.
“His name has been on our campaign literature for months. We are happy to remove it and would have done so if he simply asked but instead, he chose to go to the press,” Fox said. “We will remove his name from the flyer and replace it with one of the dozens of other elected officials or groups like NOW, the UFT, or the Stonewall Democrats, who have endorsed Melinda Katz.”
Barnwell, however, seems unclear as to how Katz’s team would have got that impression.
“Never said I would endorse her,” Barnwell told City & State, later adding, “I literally had a conversation with Melinda two months ago, and I told her I’m not endorsing anyone in this race. She called me two weeks ago, I didn’t even answer the phone.”
Barnwell did not respond to requests for comment.
The misunderstanding concerning Barnwell’s endorsement isn’t the first time such incidents have occurred in the current Queens DA race.
Both Katz and City Council Member Rory Lancman have claimed endorsements from Queensbridge Houses Tenants Association President April Simpson.
Simpson is featured on the endorsement page of Lancman’s campaign website with the quote “I trust Rory and I’m voting for Rory.” But earlier this week, Katz’s team began distributing copies of a letter signed by three NYCHA tenant association presidents, including Simpson, endorsing Katz in the DA race.
Simpson did not respond to requests for comment.
The endorsement of Rev. Phil Craig of the Greater Springfield Community Church has also been claimed by both candidates. Back in November 2018, Lancman posted a video to Youtube in which Craig, in front of his congregation, says “My vote goes to Rory Lancman.”
According to Craig, however, once Katz joined the race, he rescinded his endorsement from Lancman and chose to support Katz.
“After I sat down with Melinda, I felt that Melinda’s plan of execution and plan as DA will be much more effective and in line with me,” Craig said. “I did tell Rory I apologize but after knowing Melinda is running for DA, there’s no way I can endorse him.”
Craig made a video in support of Katz, which was posted to Facebook just days ago. In the video, Craig says “For those people that are my people, for those people that support me, I’m telling you hands down, I’m supporting Melinda Katz for Queens DA.”
Craig is still listed on Lancman’s endorsement page, with a link to the 2018 video.