This site is dedicated to gathering support for a Democratic primary challenge to Senator Michael Gianaris in 2020.

My name is Justin Potter. I’m a 39 year old husband, dad, small business owner, and dismayed constituent of Senator Michael Gianaris. My wife and I moved to the Court Square area of Long Island City in late 2012 and like so many were eager to embrace the opportunity presented by the Amazon deal, and knew Long Island City could handle the challenges.

I attended the rally at Gordon Triangle on November 14 where Senator Gianaris and Councilman Van Bramer kicked off their campaign against Amazon. The crowd was who you’d expect to show up in the middle of a cold November workday to protest 25,000 jobs and billions of dollars of investment in a desolate corner of LIC. There seemed to be more media than protestors. As for the protestors, most either looked like people who considered protesting a job, or were carrying rather expensive looking signs of groups I was unfamiliar with.  I was bewildered and mildly annoyed that two of my representatives, Senator Gianaris and Councilman Van Bramer were leading this. However, I assumed that they could score their political points and in the end we’d still get Amazon. That was a profound miscalculation that I suspect most of us - perhaps even Senator Gianaris - made. 

On February 13, 2019 out of frustration with the fact that Senator Gianaris was ignoring the opinions and interests of the majority of his constituents, and seemed to be putting the Amazon deal at risk, I registered defeatgianaris.com and defeatgianaris2020.com. I wasn’t sure if I’d actually do anything with the domains. Then the next day, February 14, the news broke that Amazon was pulling out. After a little hesitation, I decided that if I was ever going to do something with the domains, now was the time.  Between changing diapers I threw up the site and put in a form field for people to sign up if they were interested in a challenge to Senator Gianaris. I was surprised by the amount of interest, and where it was coming from.

For me, this effort isn’t necessarily motivated by the opposition to, and implosion of, the Amazon deal. As many have said, LIC and NYC will move forward like we always have after so many setbacks. If it were clear that a majority of residents were opposed to the deal, I’d be fine with what happened. We’re a democracy. However, all indications were that a majority of residents were in favor of it.

Instead, this effort is motivated by the fact that Senator Gianaris preemptively sided with a small minority of voices in opposition to what is likely the single greatest economic development opportunity our community will ever see, his failure to conduct any good faith constituent outreach, his refusal to join with other community members and work with Amazon, and his dismissal of polls indicating that his constituents were in favor of the deal.

This is also about more than Senator Gianaris. As our politics have become ever more polarized, the interests of those of us in the increasingly vast middle are being ignored because we don’t run in primaries, and we don’t show up for them. The far right has taken over the Republican party. We’re now in the early stages of seeing the far left hijack the Democratic party. It seems Senator Gianaris felt he had much more to fear politically from the agitated far left, than the majority, busy with jobs and family. He acted accordingly. The Amazon debacle is the far left’s first major “victory.” It should serve as a wake up call for those of us who think that 25,000 jobs and tens of billions of dollars in tax revenue are, on balance, a good thing. We need to send a signal that we will hold politicians accountable if they fail to do their jobs and ignore the interests of the majority.

In Senate District 12, the last 5 elections have been either literally or virtually uncontested. That simply is not healthy for democracy, and has had disastrous consequences. It needs to change. Voters need to have the opportunity to hold Senator Gianaris accountable, and they need to be able to hold whoever succeeds him accountable. 

We’ll need all the help we can get to turn Senate District 12 back into a functioning democracy where we have the opportunity to hold our State Senator accountable. Please sign up on the home page to stay informed. If you are interested in being more involved in the campaign, or just want to say hello, please email defeatgianaris@gmail.com. Thank you!