Renegade Democrats in Manhattan are trying to force out the borough's Party leader - because of an apparent backroom deal opposed by many party insiders. NY1's Manhattan reporter Michael Scotto has the story.
County Democratic committee meetings almost never get as heated or as crowded as this one.
On Monday night, hundreds of Democrats packed an auditorium looking to oust Manhattan Democratic Party Chairman Keith Wright.
They planned to do it with a proposed rule that would force Wright to choose between his party post and his day job as a government relations director at a lobbying and law firm.
"There is nothing wrong with lobbying," said Paul Newell, Lower Manhattan district leader. "It's an important role in our society, but you have to choose. You cannot be a lobbyist and the leader of the Democratic Party certainly not in Manhattan."
Newell led the uprising after Wright and Brooklyn's Democratic boss Frank Seddio passed him over for a vacant State Senate Seat that spans the two boroughs.
The Manhattan Democratic committee met and voted overwhelmingly for Newell.
In Brooklyn, there was no vote. Seddio simply huddled with Wright and they decided to give Assemblyman Brian Kavanaugh the nomination, all but assuring Kavanaugh's election.
Party bosses typically wield such power when vacancies occur in mid-term but the apparent backroom dealing in this case ignored the vote of the rank-and-file.
"We need more openness and democratic processes and we need reform," said County Committee Member Andy Humm.
"I think Mr. Newell needs to understand we don't change rules shotgun style," said Meryl Brodsky, another county committee member.
The rule change was hotly debated for 45 minutes.
In the end, the party insiders put off a decision. They voted to have the rules committee study the proposal for three months and make a recommendation.
Newell called it a partial victory.
Wright, watching the proceedings unfold from the back, said he's not a lobbyist.
"Paul, I'm sure is upset about things about the senate seat, what have you, which I understand, but this is not the way to go about it," Wright said.
The process is expected to take several months but it's a process that is now underway after reformers pushed for change.