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Brooklyn Dems speak their minds now that Vito Lopez is stepping down as boss

Boss loss emboldens borough Democrats

The Brooklyn Paper
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Scandal-scarred Assemblyman Vito Lopez is losing his ironclad grip on borough politicians, as leaders who never dared cross the influential Democratic boss are defying his wishes now that he’s stepping down from his party post due to a sexual harassment investigation.

Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Greenpoint) — a former Lopez supporter — made it clear that the Bushwick pol no longer runs the show by endorsing Democratic district leader Lincoln Restler, Lopez’s bitter rival.

“I wanted to endorse Lincoln from the start, but knew Lopez had problems with him,” said Lentol, who came out swinging for Restler in his reelection campaign for the obscure party post against Lopez-backed candidate Chris Olechowski. “I wanted to respect Lopez.”

Lentol — who claims he actually helped Lopez attain his top Democratic party spot in 2006 — said it’s time to move past Lopez’s strong-armed style of leadership.

“You can’t have a Democratic party that exists by fiat,” said Lentol, who added his name to the long list of borough politicians calling for Lopez to resign from the Assembly. “I believe this community can leave behind the petty politics that have seeped in over the past few years.”

And Lentol isn’t the only Democrat now willing to cross Lopez.

Warren Cohn, who ran against Restler in the 2010 election with Lopez’s blessing, also came out in support of his former rival.

“Lincoln has worked incredibly hard for the community,” said Cohn. “He has earned my respect and deserves to be reelected. I know that he will continue to deliver results and help establish new leadership in Brooklyn.”

And Brooklyn political insider Hank Sheinkopf expects other Democrats will emerge from the shadow Lopez cast over Brooklyn politics.

“More people are going to start doing things they wouldn’t have done before,” said Sheinkopf. “People outside of his district have no reason to have an allegiance to him anymore.”

In just a few week’s time, Lopez went from the party’s dear leader to Brooklyn’s Typhoid Mary, with even his closest allies distancing themselves from the 14-term incumbent after the Assembly’s Ethics committee booted him from an influential housing post when staffers complained about attempted kisses, unwanted advances, and repeated orders to write love letters expressing their gratitude to the party boss.

Lopez is giving up his gig as party boss, but he remains on the Assembly ticket and will run unopposed in a Sept. 13 primary.

Restler was pleased to win the backing of Lentol — a politician he has long considered a mentor even though they didn’t publicly enjoy each other’s support until Thursday.

“There’s not a person I’ve learned more from than Joe Lentol,” said Restler.

His opponent, Olechowski, said he is disappointed by Lentol’s endorsement and distanced himself from Lopez, who has put his support behind the Community Board 1 chairman.

“I have no reason to feel there should be backlash,” said Olechowski. “I run my own campaign and raise my own funds. I’m very proud of what I’m doing here. I have people who support me.”

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Reader Feedback

Ken from Greenpoint says:
finely Lentol did a smart move by endorsing Lincoln Restler, Olechowski are from the same class as ex buss Vito lopez nobody likes to be involved connected with negative people.... all i can say Lincoln has worked incredibly hard for the community and deserves to be reelected GO LINCOLN GO......
Sept. 7, 2012, 10:16 am
Keith from Brooklyn says:
this Lopez guy what a looser........
Sept. 7, 2012, 10:18 am
John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
Ken,
While I do respect your opinion, and I hate to be the one to tell you, but Lincoln has not worked hard at all and does not deserve to be re-elected. Pardon the interuption.
Sept. 7, 2012, 12:32 pm
Sam from Greenpoint says:
Lentol is a coward. What kept him from endorsing Restler before? He was scared of Lopez then and now he's scared of Restler running against him if he opposes him. Bottom line- he's a coward. As for Warren Cohen, I wish the best for him and ohope he's been able to get past his significant substance abuse issues. Drug use like that can lead to arrests and serious health consequences.
Sept. 7, 2012, 1:35 pm
ugh from disrespectful says:
john and sam - or better known as steve levin - get over your sour grapes. no one could claim with a straight face that lincoln hasnt worked hard. he works harder than most elected officials who get salaries for their work.

how your loyalty to vito - a sexual predator - could still blind you is beyond the pale.
Sept. 7, 2012, 2:46 pm
Bill from Glendale says:
Bye. Vito. U r. Finished. Get a life. Step down. Like a perv u know u will b convicted of. At least sexual harrassment. I hope more then they will boot you. U r a joke u n ur witch girlfriend. Try too b a tough guy the people. Of Brooklyn. Are not dum. They don't want u. People of brooklyn don't vote for Vito send a strong message vote the republican guy in he'll work with the democrates u don't. Want Vito he'll b gone soon. Vito. Go fishing. Enjoy the little bit of freedom u got. Jail is waiting
Sept. 7, 2012, 8:04 pm
John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
If you don't mind my saying so, Sam, I don't like when people put words in my mouth (or anything, for that matter). All I'm saying is that I disagree with you. As a family man, I have a rather large problem with sexual harassment, and as it is, sex itself (at my and my wife Ruth's ages). But I do believe that my earlier comment was an accurate one.
Sept. 7, 2012, 9:03 pm
nancy from coney says:
i dont know who the bigger jerk and looser there is vito or that stupid jerk hynes believe me hes not for the brooklyn residents hes all for lining his pockets and getting in with the right people that can do for him hes a crook and a criminal himself and all you people out there vote for these loosers and then you whine about it if i saw charles hynes today hed get an earful what a no good peice of —— he is.
Sept. 8, 2012, 1:38 pm
Rob from Greenpoint says:
I'll be voting for Lincoln and I hope you will too.
Sept. 10, 2012, 4:36 pm

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