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DA race reveals sharp divide in Bay Ridge

Charles Hynes. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas

Hynes has lived in neighborhood for more than 20 years

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

The suddenly reinvigorated race for Brooklyn district attorney is exposing some sharp divisions in Bay Ridge, a community that current DA Charles Hynes calls home, but where the local Democratic club is aggressively pushing for the election of his rival Ken Thompson.

Immediately after Hynes made his official announcement on Tuesday that he is running for a seventh term, the Bay Ridge Democrats, a political club led by Justin Brannan, issued a scathing statement blasting the incumbent’s decision to seek re-election on the Republican and Conservative party lines.

“It seems like the Republicans and Conservatives are pushing Hynes to run in November, even though he’s been a Democrat his whole life. We are a Democratic club; we don’t support Republicans. And we certainly don’t support candidates who are endorsed by anti-gay, anti-women, anti-immigrant politicians,” the statement read.

“At our annual endorsement meeting last May, our club decided it was time for a change in the district attorney’s office. Many observers were surprised by our choice. After all, the incumbent, Charles Hynes, lives in our neighborhood and is known by almost everyone in our community. But for us, the choice was easy,” the statement continued.

Hynes, who conceded to Thompson on the night of the Democratic Primary after Thompson defeated him 55 percent to 45 percent, and who offered to make it a smooth transition, later changed his mind and decided to run on the GOP and Conservative party lines.

The DA, who has lived in Bay Ridge for more than 20 years, is getting overwhelming support across the board in his home territory, according to key supporters, who said they are now busy reaching out to voters of all political parties. “People think he is a great DA and they want to keep him in office,” said one insider.

Bay Ridge political power players like state Sen. Marty Golden and Brooklyn Conservative Party Chairman Jerry Kassar are solidly behind Hynes.

But many Democrats in the community, who had supported Hynes in the past, defected to Thompson, a former federal prosecutor, after the primary.

Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) told the audience at a debate sponsored by the Dyker Heights Civic Association Monday night that he was backing Thompson because he won the primary “fairly and squarely.”

Hynes’ announcement took place at a rally on the steps of Borough Hall Tuesday morning. He told supporters he hoped to reach out to voters across party lines.

“Democrats and progressive voters will join with Republicans and Conservatives to preserve the public safety…and re-elect me for District Attorney,” he said.

The district attorney was heckled by a group of pro-Thompson demonstrators at the rally.

The New York Times reported that one of the main reasons Hynes changed his mind and decided to run was his belief that disgraced former assemblyman Clarence Norman was pulling the strings behind Thompson’s campaign.

“I will do everything in my power that I will make damned sure that Clarence Norman, Jr. will have nothing to do with the office of the district attorney,” Hynes said.

Norman, who Hynes had prosecuted on corruption charges and who served time in prison, was reportedly at Thompson’s victory party on primary night.

Thompson’s campaign has repeatedly denied the allegation that Norman ran his campaign.

On Monday, Thompson was endorsed by US Senator Charles Schumer. “There is a clear choice to move Brooklyn’s criminal justice forward, and that choice is Ken Thompson,” Schumer said.

“I’ve worked with Ken firsthand in urging the Justice Department to reopen the case of Emmett Till, who was abducted, brutally beaten, and murdered in Mississippi in 1955. And I can tell you that Ken’s commitment to justice, unquestioned integrity and experience protecting the public is exactly what we need from our borough’s top law enforcement officer,” the senator said.

October 9, 2013 - 2:30pm


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