NYC’s largest LGBT political club: “Lasher’s our guy”

By Elizabeth Haq

The city’s oldest and largest LGBT political club has endorsed three candidates in Manhattan’s contested Democratic primaries, and is making a special push for one of them.

The Stonewall Democrats of New York City held a volunteer event last night for Micah Lasher, the 34-year-old first-time candidate running for Senate District 31. They’ve also endorsed Carmen N. De La Rosa in Assembly District 72  and Daniel O’Donnell in Assembly District 69.

A former chief of staff to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and director of state legislative affairs under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Lasher doesn’t lack friends in high places. In fact, out of the four candidates running for the vacant seat, he’s the closest to the city’s intellectual and financial elite – they helped him raise over $450,000 in campaign funds.

So what makes the Upper West Sider fit to represent this widespread, often underrepresented community?

Rose Christ, vice president of the club for the last four years, said that an effective representative doesn’t have be a mirror of his or her constituents.

“I like people that worked aggressively when they were staffers,” she said. “They have an insider’s perspective and just need the influence to make things happen.”

From left to right: Rose Christ, Stonewall Democrats volunteer, volunteer Linda Farrell. Credit: Liz Haq/The North Polls

Christ herself was split between Lasher and Robert Jackson, until one particular issue.

“Religious organizations using public schools for programming,” she said. It’s a sticking point for Stonewall members who believe that religious events are often discriminatory, and sometimes outright hateful, of the LGBT community.

According to Christ, Lasher is the only candidate who adamantly opposed the use of public spaces for religious programming. He also mentions the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), a proposed New York law that protects gender identity and expression under human rights and hate crime laws, as a priority on his campaign website.

“The other candidates won’t prioritize passing GENDA, especially the candidate being supported by the IDC,” Christ said, referring to the Independent Democratic Conference. The breakaway coalition that caucuses with the GOP in New York State Senate has thrown its support behind Lasher’s opponent, Marisol Alcantara.

“That was a deciding factor for a lot of us. That’s when I thought Lasher’s our guy,” she said.

Jared Odessky, volunteer. Credit: Liz Haq/The North Polls

Micah Lasher – the outsider with insider connections

Lasher hands out leaflets outside of a Morningside Heights supermarket. Credit: Elizabeth Haq/The North Polls

By Elizabeth Haq

Touting his experience and lofty connections, Micah Lasher is running for State Senate in a four-way race for Manhattan’s District 31

The 34-year-old was most recently chief of staff to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. He has criticized opponent Marisol Alcantara for her alliance with the Senate Independent Democratic Conference, a five-member coalition of independent Democrats and Republicans.

His other challengers are Robert Jackson and Luis Tejada.

Lasher, who served as director of state legislative affairs under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, lives in the Upper West Side with his wife and three young children. He seeks to represent an sprawling district that spans Chelsea, Clinton, the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights, Hudson Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill.

The political insider considers “reform revolution” a top priority, according to his website. He seeks to reduce campaign contribution limits and ban outside income for legislators. 

“Things are deeply broken in Albany,” Lasher said, when asked how the upcoming presidential election would affect New York State Senate. “In this election year…there’s an opportunity for a Democratic Senate and a shaking up of the power structure.” 

Lasher received $453,467 in contributions in 2016, according to the state Board of Elections. Donors include actor Aziz Ansari, high-profile lawyer David Boies, Two Trees Management Company, a real estate development firm, and Bloomberg-era colleagues Bradley Tusk, Michael Cardozo and Stuart Loeser, who collectively gave almost $20,000 this past summer.

Campaign Platform

  • Protect and expand affordable housing
  • Support and increase funding for public education at every level
  • Reform New York State Senate
  • Invest in sustainable energy
  • Support LGBT communities and abortion rights