Assembling an Assembly Race?

If Dan Quart decides not to run again for the 73rd Assembly District, Ben Kallos and Russell Squire could be contenders

| 21 Aug 2021 | 10:48

Coming off a disappointing result in his campaign to become the next Manhattan Borough President, term-limited Council Member Ben Kallos has opened an account as a candidate with the state Board of Elections, fueling speculation he may run for state Assembly next year.

Kallos filed his paperwork with the BOE on Aug. 11 – notably the day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his plan to resign. Though there has been chatter the Council member is looking at running for the 73rd Assembly district seat, his registration did not declare which office he may seek in 2022. That decision could still be up in the air, as his potential candidacy would likely also hinge on the plans of Assembly Member Dan Quart, who currently holds the seat.

Quart, like Kallos, is coming off an unsuccessful 2021 campaign – placing last in the hotly contested Manhattan District Attorney’s race. According to a report from City & State’s Campaign Confidential, Quart is not sure he will seek re-election next year – opening the door for Kallos to become a possible successor. “I haven’t made any decisions about the future,” Quart said in a statement to Our Town, adding that he is still focused on working on behalf of his constituents. The report also noted that the Council member would not challenge an incumbent.

Kallos, who has served Council District 5 since 2013 and will leave office at the end of the year, declined to comment on his filing. If he does decide to run, he will be a formidable candidate as he is extremely popular in his district. Although he received just 16.3 percent of the vote after the ranked-choice tabulation in the borough president’s race, Kallos outperformed the other six Democratic candidates in both of the Upper East Side Assembly districts. This would position Kallos as the likely frontrunner to succeed Quart, should the Assembly Member rule out another term, but it doesn’t mean he would be without competition.

CB8 Chair

Russell Squire, who currently serves as the chair of Community Board 8 and as well as a district leader with the Lexington Democratic Club, has also opened an account with the state BOE. He confirmed that if Quart does not seek re-election, he intends to run for Assembly.

“[Quart] hasn’t said yet what his plans are, if he decides not to run, then I would want to run to succeed him,” said Squire, who is also an associate at the law firm Covington & Burling. “I think Dan’s done a really good job, but [running] would be my intention. I’ve got a long history of civic and political involvement in this community.”

As CB8 chair, Squire has worked alongside Kallos on community issues, but he said the possibility the Council member might also run will not sway his own decision to launch a campaign.

“I’d be interested in running irrespective of who else [might run],” said Squire.

If he does run, Squire said his campaign would be focused on quality of life on the Upper East Side, which he said includes many facets.

“That means public safety and safe streets. It means affordability and ensuring that middle class New Yorkers can continue to call the Upper East Side home,” said Squire. “It means continuing to be a neighborhood where we have good schools... and it’s making sure that we’re fully funding our mass transit system because it’s such an important part of the economic life of the city, and also dealing with homelessness.”

Once Quart irons out his future plans, a possible Democratic primary field for the 73rd Assembly district will become much clearer in the months ahead.