The mood was tense at Norman Siegel’s campaign headquarters on Madison Avenue last night as his camp sipped Brooklyn Lager and watched wide-eyed as incumbent Betsy Gotbaum’s vote percentage climbed to 48. Siegel trailed with 30 percent, with the most-unexpected surprise of the night coming from a third-place finish by virtually unknown candidate Michael Brown, who received 9 percent. Andrew Raseij, the projected third-place runner up, drew a mere 5 percent.
Siegel could not hide his disappointment as word of the final tally came in. He told the crowd it was “a shame” the city would have to see four more years of Gotbaum, who has been criticized for a lack of accomplishment and hesitance to take on the Bloomberg administration. “I don’t think Betsy Gotbaum is an advocate for New Yorkers, and I think New Yorkers lose with her in office,” Siegel told the Voice. “I hope she learned something from this campaign.”
The civil rights attorney and former head of the New York Civil Liberties Union said he would continue to fight as a private advocate for his vision of “freedom, justice, and equality,” vowing to work toward a New York that could bridge the lines of race and class. “We had lots of dreams and lots of plans but we’ll just have to find other movements to make them happen.”
As campaign volunteer Elissa Jaji put it, “you can’t stop Norman from being a public advocate.” Siegel later joked, “If all the people I’ve gotten out of jail over the years voted, I might have won.”