DA challenge: Thompson says George will seal Hynes victory • Brooklyn Paper

DA challenge: Thompson says George will seal Hynes victory

No deal: Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes vowed to show no leniency to the two motorists accused of mowing down four people outside scandal-scarred 93 Lounge.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

One of the two candidates battling to replace District Attorney Charles Hynes is demanding his empty-pocketed opponent drop out of the race because he doesn’t have enough money to win.

Former federal prosecutor Ken Thompson touted his $500,000-plus campaign war chest — in contrast to opponent Abe George’s $145,000 — as proof he alone can stop Hynes from winning the Democratic primary in September and his sixth re-election in November, and that George, a former Manhattan assistant district attorney, needs to get out of Thompson’s way in order to get Hynes off the ballot.

“By staying in the race, the only thing that George can deliver is another term for DA Hynes, ”said Thompson pokesman James Freedland.

But political analysts said Thompson lacked hard data showing that George’s continued candidacy would prevent Thompson from winning. They argued that it is unlikely George’s supporters would all automatically back Thompson should their candidate drop his bid, and that Hynes will probably triumph either way.

“Why should Thompson call for the undermining of democracy — i.e. ‘Get off the ballot because I said so?’ ” said veteran Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf. “Where is the evidence, the poll numbers, that George remaining in the race is a significant enough decider?”

George noted that Thompson’s latest fund-raising numbers included $195,000 that the trial lawyer loaned to his own campaign. The Sheepshead Bay native — who last year received a $44,000 loan from his mother to start his campaign — said he had plenty of dough to win, and vowed to carry on.

“I believe in a three-person race,” said George. “We have a pathway to victory, and I’m going to continue campaigning every day all over the borough,”

Still in: Abe George said he would not throw in the towel, despite weak fundraising.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Both candidates claimed Hynes — who has almost $590,000 cash, none of it borrowed — is vulnerable in the primary because of the recent spate of scandals that have erupted around his office.

Critics have accused the incumbent of failing to prosecute Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish child molesters in order to curry votes in those communities. His office has also come under fire for wrongful convictions resulting from the alleged misconduct of star assistant district attorney Michael Vecchione and retired police detective Louis Scarcella. Hynes has also received criticism for his closeness to disgraced former Assemblyman Vito Lopez. Hynes recused himself from prosecuting Lopez for alleged sexual harassment because of their political ties.

Hynes’ camp denied wrongdoing on Vecchione’s part, and noted that the district attorney was reviewing all cases Scarcella was involved in. The campaign pointed to Hynes’ innovation in creating drug rehab programs as an alternative to prison, and initiatives allowing ex-cons to re-enter society. It dismissed George and Thompson’s attacks as hollow politicking.

“In all these cases, the facts are before the public and they will decide between the daily carping of the two opponents or the tangible record of Joe Hynes over 23 years,” said spokesman George Arzt. “We are certain they will choose a rock-solid record over political posturing every day of the week.”

Sheinkopf agreed that an outbreak of public outcry could damage Hynes — but suggested the scandals were not enough to dislodge him from power.

“Hynes has had a terrible time on the PR side. The question is ‘are people paying attention?’ ” Sheinkopf said. “Law enforcement offices are not easily vacated with challenges.”

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

Gauntlet down: Brooklyn District Attorney hopeful Ken Thompson called for rival challenger Abe George to withdraw from the race so he can face Charles Hynes alone.
Ken Thompson

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