Bay Ridge Democrats lament election losses

The election last week proved to be successful for Democrats in Brooklyn, with the party’s incumbents in congressional and state legislative races winning re-election in the vast majority of races around the borough.

 And then there’s Bay Ridge.

Two of the seats Democrats in Bay Ridge had coveted the most, congress and state senate, were won by Republican incumbents, leaving Democrats wondering how the contests could have slipped away from them.

U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) and state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) easily defeated their respective challengers, Democrats Mark Murphy and Andrew Gounardes.

Democrats said that the fact that a man who did fundraising for Grimm during the congressman’s first campaign in 2010 is under FBI investigation gave them hope that voters would prefer to turn the page on the Republican incumbent and give Murphy a chance. Their hopes were dashed on election night.

“I think we miscalculated,” said one leading Democrat who asked that his name not be published. “We thought the FBI thing would turn voters off to Grimm. It didn’t. And we thought that Marty’s missteps would do him in. They didn’t. These guys are very popular,” the Democrat said.

Golden came under fire from Gounardes and others for voting against a bill that would have guaranteed pay equity for female state workers.

A week after the election, Democrats said, at least publicly, that they are looking back with no regrets and are looking forward with hope.

“And although we fell short, together we sent a very strong message,” Justin Brannan, president of the Bay Ridge Democrats, a leading political club in the community, wrote in an email to club members after the election.

The club worked tirelessly, knocking on doors, calling voters on the phone, and campaigning on behalf of Murphy and Gounardes.

“Make no mistake, our flag has been planted and our fight for better representation and a better New York is far from over. This wasn’t our last chance - far from it. This is just the beginning,” Brannan said.

The victories by Grimm and Golden were even more impressive, considering the fact that neither man did much campaigning during the final week leading up to the Nov. 6 election. Grimm was busy helping to coordinate relief efforts for Staten Islanders in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  Golden was spending a great deal of time with constituents in the Gerritsen Beach portion of his district. Gerritsen Beach residents suffered massive damage from Sandy.

Murphy, who had refused to concede to Grimm on Election Night, admitted to supporters a few days later that “the journey we started back in January has come to an end.” 

Murphy, the son of former congressman John Murphy who was making his first try at public office, sent an email to supporters.

“We didn’t win, but with the backing of thousands and thousands of voters, we succeeded in promoting the issues and ideals of hard working Americans.  These are issues we will continue to support as we move forward to work with President Obama, Senator Gillibrand, Governor Cuomo, Senator Schumer and other elected officials who believe in the power and the value of America’s middle class,” Murphy wrote.