David Dinkins

Information about David Dinkins

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Dinkins was elected in the wake of a corruption scandal that stemmed from the decline of longtime Brooklyn Democratic Party chairman and preeminent New York City political leader Meade Esposito's organized crime-influenced patronage network, ultimately precipitating the suicide of Queens borough president Donald Manes and a series of criminal convictions among the city's Democratic leadership. In March 1989, the New York City Board of Estimate (which served as the primary governing instrument of various patronage networks for decades, often superseding the mayoralty in influence) also was declared unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause by the Supreme Court of the United States; this prompted the empanelment of the New York City Charter Revision Commission, which abolished the Board of Estimate and assigned most of its responsibilities to an enlarged New York City Council via a successful referendum in November. Koch, the presumptive Democratic nominee, was politically damaged by his administration's ties to the Esposito network and his handling of racial issues, exemplified by his fealty to affluent interests in predominantly white areas of Manhattan. This enabled Dinkins to attenuate public perceptions of his previous patronage appointments and emerge as a formidable, reform-minded challenger to Koch. Additionally, the fact that Dinkins was African American helped him to avoid criticism that he was ignoring the black vote by campaigning to whites. While a large turnout of African American voters was important to his election, Dinkins campaigned throughout the city. Dinkins' campaign manager was political consultant William Lynch Jr. , who became one of his first deputy mayors.