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Ben Kallos Cruises to Win in UES City Council Primary

By Victoria Bekiempis | September 11, 2013 9:26am
 Ben Kallos won the Upper East Side's City Council District 5 primary, sinking the Democratic nomination for the position.
Ben Kallos Wins
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UPPER EAST SIDE — Ben Kallos won the Democratic nomination for the District 5 City Council seat Tuesday, besting scandal-plagued Assemblyman Micah Kellner and neighborhood activist Ed Hartzog.

Kallos cruised to a win with more than 45 percent of the vote, with Kellner earning slightly more than 39 percent and Hartzog receiving nearly 15 percent.

Though Kallos was once considered a long-shot candidate — a political hopeful who many believed would lose to the party-backed state assemblyman — his victory Tuesday night did not surprise some neighborhood residents.

Since announcing his interest in the City Council, Kallos has cast himself as a progressive Democrat and promised reform. It was considered a daring move for a candidate lacking Kellner's pre-scandal popularity and name recognition.

But the tactic worked.

Kallos, the former chief of staff to Assemblyman Jonathan Bing, ultimately campaigned as a moral contrast to Kellner and even secured an endorsement from the National Organization for Women's New York City chapter in the wake of accusations Kellner sent sexually suggestive messages to a female staffer in 2009.

The state ethics commission is probing the claims against Kellner, who was first elected to the Assembly in 2007. The allegations against Kellner and continued fallout prompted the loss of powerful endorsements, including some from other prominent politicians and one of the city's largest labor unions.

Hartzog also enjoyed a surprising show of support in Tuesday's primary, according to party insiders.

He had billed himself as a responsible development activist, and was widely regarded as the underdog in the race — even more so than Kallos.

Hartzog, a Community Board 8 member, also experienced a public relations gaffe during his candidacy, and campaigned with a thin budget in the final weeks of the primary race.

Kallos will face off against Republican David Garland in the general election Nov. 5, 2013.