By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
With Campaign 2012 winding down to a precious few days, candidates for local congressional and state legislative seats are busy making last minute pitches to voters in the hope of swaying the election their way.
In southern Brooklyn, a pattern is emerging in many of the political races. Nearly all of them involve an experienced incumbent being challenged by a newcomer who has never run for public office before.
That’s the case in the 22nd State Senate District, where five-term incumbent Marty Golden, a Republican who is also running with Conservative Party support, is locked in a bitter battle with Democrat Andrew Gounardes, a lawyer running for office for the first time.
It is one of the most closely watched races in Brooklyn. The district covers Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights and stretches through a wide area of southern Brooklyn, taking in parts of Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Homecrest, Gerritsen Beach, Sheepshead Bay, and Marine Park.
Gounardes, a lawyer for the non-profit organization Citizens Committee for New York City, has been forceful in his debates with Golden, accusing the incumbent of being out of touch with the needs of the district’s residents. Golden, a retired New York City cop, scoffed at his opponent’s charges. Golden said he is finely attuned to the needs of the district and has managed to bring millions of dollars in state funding to improve local parks and schools.
Gounardes has attempted to hit Golden hard on the incumbent’s vote against a senate bill that would have instituted a “fair pay” provision for state workers. The bill would have guaranteed that women working the same jobs as men would enjoy pay equity, Gounardes said.
The two men had a sharp exchange on the subject during a debate last month sponsored by the Dyker Heights Civic Association.
Golden defended his vote, saying that while he supports the concept of equal pay for equal work, this particular bill was clunky and confusing in its language and would have cost millions of dollars to implement. The bill also mentions “comparable worth” as the yardstick to pay decision, but does not define exactly what “comparable worth” is, Golden said.
“I’m offended by that,” Gounardes told Golden at the debate. “You’re saying we can’t afford to pay women the same as men?”
“The bill was flawed! That’s why it didn’t pass,” Golden shot back.
Republican Michael Grimm, running for a second term in the 11th Congressional District, is criss-crossing the bi-borough district working to secure votes. His opponent, Democrat Mark Murphy, a first-time candidate, has made few campaign appearances in either side of the district, Staten Island or Brooklyn.
At several debates, Grimm has had the floor to himself, as Murphy has chosen not to take part in the forums.
Murphy has instead relied heavily on emails and press releases to get his message across. He has been hammering Grimm on the congressman’s alleged ties to a donor under FBI investigation. Murphy is also attempting to tie Grimm to the more extreme elements of the Republican Party like Missouri Congressman Todd Akin, who famously stated that women cannot become pregnant as a result of rape.
Grimm has campaigned by largely ignoring his rival and focusing on telling voters about his first-term accomplishments. Chief among them, according to Grimm, was his effort to prevent the US Army Corps of Engineers from leaving the Fort Hamilton Army Base in Bay Ridge for a Manhattan headquarters. Grimm is also touting his success in preventing the Obama Administration from disbanding an anti-terrorism unit stationed at the fort.
The 11th Congressional District covers the entire borough of Staten Island and then crosses the Verrazano Bridge to take in all of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, and parts of Bensonhurst and Gravesend.
Bay Ridge is divided into two state assembly districts. Democrat Alec Brook-Krasny is running for his fourth term in the 46th Assembly District. His opponent is Republican Thomas McCarthy, a vice president of Chase bank making his first attempt at running for political office. The district includes parts of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Coney Island, and Brighton Beach. The district is connected by the Belt Parkway.
The sections of Bay Ridge that Brook-Krasny doesn’t represent are represented by Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis. Malliotakis, who won her seat two years ago, is running for her second term with support from both the Republican and Conservative parties.
Her district, the 64th Assembly District, runs from Bay Ridge to Staten Island.
Her opponent is Democrat John Mancuso, an auxiliary police captain on Staten Island.