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DA Hynes: I’m still a Dem at heart — just running as a Republican - Brooklyn Paper

DA Hynes: I’m still a Dem at heart — just running as a Republican

Re-districting: Lifelong Democrat District Attorney Charles “Joe” Hynes announced that he would continue to seek re-election as a Republican on Oct. 8.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

If it walks like an elephant and talks like an elephant … it might still be a donkey!

Brooklyn’s 23-year district attorney announced on Oct. 8 that, following his stunning defeat last month in the Democratic primary, he would continue his run for re-election on the Republican and Conservative party lines. But Charles “Joe” Hynes said that this doesn’t mean he’s now a Republican.

“I’m a lifelong Democrat, and I always will be a Democrat,” said the borough’s top lawman. “The Republicans and the Conservatives know it.”

Hynes — who has appeared on the right-leaning parties’ ballot lines since 2005 — lost the Democratic nomination to former federal prosecutor Ken Thompson on Sept. 10. The six-term incumbent conceded defeat on primary night, and promised to start working on the transition — but later said he changed his mind after reading reports in the New York Post that former Democratic Party boss Clarence Norman helped run Thompson’s campaign.

Hynes helped send Norman up the river in 2005 for accepting illegal contributions to his Assembly campaign. Thompson has denied that Norman played any role in his election effort, but Hynes claimed that Thompson is covering up the truth — and called for the electorate to render a verdict on Nov. 5.

“The voters are going to decide if they can trust someone who flat-out lied about the role Clarence Norman played in his campaign,” Hynes said.

But even if Hynes’s heart still belongs to the party of President Obama, his team said he has been in talks with GOP leadership about how continuing to campaign could provide a boost to Republican Council candidates like John Quaglione and David Storobin, who are seeking seats in Bay Ridge and Brighton Beach, respectively.

“Those kind of points did come up, sure,” said Hynes spokesman Jerry Schmetterer, who is on vacation from his regular job as director of public information at the district attorney’s office. “If anyone is helped by him being on the ballot, that is what American politics is about.”

Hynes also vowed that if is re-elected he would retain controversial assistant district attorney Michael Vecchione, who has drawn fire for wrongful convictions based on alleged prosecutorial misconduct. Thompson bashed Hynes during the primary campaign for letting Vecchione keep his job.

“Mike Vecchione is one of the best attorneys in the country, and absolutely he will continue to serve the public,” said Hynes.

Hynes also said he would hang onto Mark Posner, a married prosecutor in his office who the Post revealed had called prostitutes from work to set up liaisons with — only to be quietly demoted instead of fired.

“He’ll still be with us,” said the incumbent.

Thompson’s campaign has blasted Hynes for going back on his promise to concede and to assist with the transition between top prosecutors — and vowed to deal the incumbent an even more crushing defeat than the 55–44 percent loss he suffered on primary night.

“It’s sad that Mr. Hynes refuses to accept the will of the people, as he repeatedly pledged to do last month,” said Thompson spokesman James Freedland. “And we are confident all of Brooklyn’s voters will render the same overwhelming verdict as they did in the primary.”

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

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