State Sen. Marty Connor — embroiled in the political fight of his life — lashed into his 28-year-old opponent as a “trust fund man” with little life and neighborhood experience.
The fiery debate for the Democratic nomination on Wednesday night came at the close of a bitter campaign for state Senate — in a district that includes Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Lower Manhattan — that pitted newcomer Daniel Squadron against an incumbent who has been in office longer than his opponent has been alive.
At one point, moderator Dick Dadey of the non-partisan Citizens Union had to stop the men and sternly remind them to “not get personal here.”
He easily could have repeated the warning.
At one point, Connor, angered by a Squadron charge that he accepts campaign contributions from corporations, political action committees and lobbyists, lashed back that Squadron’s personal wealth has propped up the insurgent’s campaign.
“I’m not wealthy, Dan, I’m not a trust fund man. I don’t have rich relatives,” Connor said, suggesting that Squadron ran a full-time campaign because he had “no job,” whereas Connor “had to go to Albany and represent the people every week.”
The son of one of the city’s most powerful lawyers, the late Howard Squadron, Connor’s rival for the Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO seat drew about $180,000 from a trust fund last year, according to his tax return.
Squadron lashed back at Connor, saying that the incumbent has, from “Day 1, … personally attacked me and my family…and I believe exploited the fact that my father passed away.”
That exchange was a heated highlight, but this debate — at St. Francis College on Remsen Street — often strayed from Marquess of Queensbury rules. Indeed, Connor’s very opening statement went after Squadron’s young age.
“I’m older than Dan, so taking [the allotted] three minutes to tell my life story will be harder,” said Connor, 63.
Squadron kept a blank face and a tight smile during Connor’s attack on his youthfulness, pulling his punches until the right moment.
That opportunity presented itself when Squadron charged that Connor was part of an Albany Old Guard in desperate need of reform.
At one point, he quoted a Daily News editorial about the circumstances of Connor’s ouster as the Senate minority leader in 2002.
Connor retorted, “Dan, you weren’t there — you were in college.”
The debate did feature some substantive exchanges.
Connor noted that he has the Senate’s “best environmental record,” while his opponent papered Borough Hall last weekend with posters during a campaign stop at the Greenmarket.
“It’s not OK to plaster your campaign posters all over city property,” Connor said. “You won’t see me standing under posters.”
After the debate, Brooklyn Heights resident and Connor supporter Mona Bregman confronted Squadron to complain about receiving “handfuls” of his direct mailings.
“When you’re done, please recycle them,” Squadron said.