When upstart Democratic primary challenger Brian Barnwell defeated incumbent New York Assemblywoman Margaret Markey in the Primary Election held Sept. 13, there weren’t many tears shed in Catholic circles.
Barnwell, a 30-year-old attorney from Queens, defeated the nine-term assemblywoman by a surprisingly large margin. He earned almost 63 percent of the ballots, with 1,622 votes compared to Markey’s 921.
The 30th Assembly District that Markey represents, includes Maspeth, Woodside and parts of Long Island City, Astoria, Sunnyside and Middle Village.
Barnwell is a member of Corpus Christi parish, Woodside, where he has served as a catechist.
“Brian has spearheaded a peanut butter and jelly sandwich-making group one night a month for the last several years,” said Father Patrick West, pastor.
“The sandwiches are for the homeless. Brian and his volunteers did the fundraising, coordinated the donations, did the necessary shopping, got the volunteers to make the sandwiches and boxed them up to be picked up by a city homeless program to be distributed.”
“Markey spent 18 years of her life trying to stab the Catholic Church,” said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, based in Manhattan. “First elected in 1998, she has been at the forefront of bills that would do absolutely nothing to protect public school students who have been molested by their teachers.
“Her sole objective was to sponsor bills that exclusively targeted private institutions, her real goal being parochial schools. The one time she strayed from her agenda and included public schools in her bill, she incurred the wrath of the public school establishment.”
This past spring, Markey gained additional media attention when she accused Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of attempting to bribe her 10 years ago in return for her dropping the bill.
Donohue also jumped on the attention given that accusation by the New York Daily News.
“In recent years, the New York Daily News has turned strongly anti-Catholic, highlighting stories on miscreant priests while burying similar stories on rabbis. It has also been a steadfast supporter of Markey’s selective indignation, ripping the Catholic Church at will,” he said.
Bob Capano, a Republican candidate for City Council in Brooklyn’s 43rd District (Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst) next year, also praised Democrats in Queens for rejecting Markey.
Calling it “one of the biggest political upsets in Queens history,” Capano said, “I applaud Democrats in the 30th Assembly District for standing up and getting rid of anti-Catholic Margaret Markey. She publicly told a malicious lie about Bishop DiMarzio offering her a bribe.
This alone was enough to disqualify her from office.
“In addition to this, during my time serving the neighborhoods of Maspeth and Middle Village as Congressman (Bob) Turner’s District Director she was a no-show at community meetings and events. Her defeat is welcome news for Catholics, the NYS Assembly, and residents of Queens.”
Turner’s congressional district overlapped with Markey’s Assembly District in parts of Queens, including Maspeth and Middle Village.