Haitian American makes history

State Sen. John Sampson won his primary Tuesday night despite the fact he is under indictment.
Associated Press / Hans Pennink

A Haitian American candidate made history on Tuesday night by becoming the first politician of Haitian descent to win the Democratic Party Primary Election for a seat in the New York State Legislature.

Rodneyse Bichotte, who was born and raised in Brooklyn to Haitian immigrants, handsomely defeated Jamaican-born economist and accountant Rickie Tullock by 20 percentage points to win the primary in the 42nd State Assembly District in Brooklyn.

Since New York is heavily Democratic, winners in the primary are considered shoo-ins to win the general elections in November.

With 100 percent of the polling precincts reported, Bischotte, who was the District Leader of the 42nd State Assembly District, garnered 47.4 percent, or 2,669 votes, to Tulloch’s 29.7 percent, or 1,592 votes.

The other candidates in the race were Haitian Michele Adolphe, who received 800 voters, or 14 percent, and Guyanese Victor Jordan, who received 306 votes, or 5.7 percent.

“We did it!” exclaimed Bichotte. “I am humbled and exceedingly grateful to have received the confidence of the people of the 42nd Assembly District to serve as their next assemblywoman.

“Our success today at the polls would not be possible without the support and effort of a dedicated team of volunteers, campaign staff, and supporters who came together to make today’s victory possible,” she added.

Bichotte said during the past few months leading to Tuesday’s victory, her campaign was able to put together a widespread coalition of elected officials, unions, clergy and non-profits, “who believe that our community is in dire need of leadership in the state Assembly that will put their best interests at heart.”

Tulloch had received the endorsement of the retiring Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs, whose 42nd Assembly District comprises Flatbush, East Flatbush and Midwood, among other Brooklyn neighborhoods.

But while Bichotte was successful at the polls, another Haitian American candidate was unsuccessful.

Lawyer and educator Rubain Dorancy lost soundly to another lawyer, African American Jesse Hamilton, for the 20th Senatorial District in Brooklyn.

Hamilton, the former legal counsel for Eric Adams who vacated the seat when he was elected Borough President, received 9,090 votes or 64.9 percent to Dorancy’s 4,189 votes, or 29.9 percent. The other candidate, Haitian Guillermo Philpotts received 728 votes, or 5.2 percent.

“I’m glad that I ran on an issues-driven campaign,” Dorancy told the Caribbean Media Corporation at his campaign headquarters on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn on Tuesday night.

“The most important thing is that the community’s voices were heard,” he added. “At the end of the day, the voters carried out the vote. I feel relieved.”

Hamilton, on the other hand, said he was “humbled and honored by the trust voters have placed in me tonight, and I’ll spend every day in Albany (the state’s capital) working to live up to it.

“Tonight’s results clearly show that voters in this district demand a proven progressive who will continue Borough President Adams’ long legacy of delivering for our neighborhoods — and I’m proud to answer the call,” he added.

“I have big shoes to fill, but with the help of supporters, residents, and community leaders like Rubain Dorancy, I look forward to making progress on all the issues working families care about as our next state senator,” she continued.

Two other Caribbean American candidates were also successful in the Primary.

State Sen. John L. Sampson, whose father is Guyanese, survived a challenge as three other candidates split votes for the 19th Senatorial District in Brooklyn.

Sampson is under federal indictment on charges that he embezzled more than $400,000 from the sale of foreclosed homes. He said he is vigorously fighting the charges.

Sampson received 7,218 votes, or 54.2 percent; Dell Smitherman received 3,981 votes, or 29.9 percent; Sean Henry received 1,668 votes, or 12.5 percent; and Elias Weir received 458 votes, or 3.4 percent.

“We had the governor, the mayor and some of my colleagues in the Assembly who didn’t want to see this happen,” Sampson told supporters at the Thomas Jefferson political club in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn on Tuesday night.

“Prosperity breeds friends, adversity proves it,” he added. “It is going to be a different John Sampson.”

In Queens, voters in the 14th District turned against state Sen. Malcolm A. Smith, who is accused of bribery in his bid for the 2013 New York City mayoral ballot.

Smith lost by a landslide to former Coucilman Leroy Comrie, of Jamaican parentage.

Comrie received 9,314 votes, or 69.4 percent to Smith’s 2,530 votes, or 18.9 percent and Munir Avery’s 1,577 votes, or 11.8 percent.

“This win is a huge triumph; and, now, I am looking forward to getting to work,” Comrie said.

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