Southern Brooklyn’s GOP wave has crashed down on Coney Island’s sandy shore — where two Republicans are hoping to take on Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny in the fall.
Bay Ridge native Tom McCarthy and Bath Beach-born Lucretia Regina-Potter have both announced that they would seek the Republican nomination to take on Brook-Krasny (D–Coney Island), whose district covers a wide swath of territory from the People’s Playground and Brighton Beach to Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge.
McCarthy, who has already secured the Conservative Party line and will be on the ballot in November even if he loses to Regina-Potter on Sept. 13, called Brook-Krasny an irresponsible spendthrift who does whatever the Assembly leadership tells him to.
“Only eight assemblymen voted yes on every spending bill this past session,” said McCarthy. “Mr. Krasny was one of them, Sheldon Silver was another.”
Regina-Potter, who lost a fight against Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D–Dyker Heights) in 2008 and then a Republican primary for the same seat in 2010, said Brook-Krasny is completely out of touch with his Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights constituents.
“People on my end of the district don’t even know who he is,” Regina-Potter claims.
Both candidates are hoping to secure a GOP beachhead in the mostly Democratic district — a feat many thought to be impossible until Republicans won two races in Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach.
Brooklyn GOP leaders think Coney Island will be the next domino to fall.
“With the wins that we’ve had by Rep. Bob Turner and state Sen. David Storobin, we see that a lot of the Russian population in Southern Brooklyn is voting conservative,” said Kings County Republican Party Chairman Craig Eaton. “Everyone is saying, ‘taxes are too high, government is too big,’ and they want change. The Republican Party represents that change.”
Yet the primary winner may have a tough time beating Brook-Krasny: Republican candidate Jerry Amalfitano received a paltry 17 percent of the vote when he went against the six-term incumbent in 2010. Coney Island and Brighton Beach has been Democratic since 1948, when Bertram Baker took over the seat.
Brook-Krasny — a refugee from the former Soviet Union — brushed off the suggestion that Republican-leaning Russian immigrants could imperil his position.
“Much of the community is senior citizens, people dependent on government services, and the business owners get their money from those people,” Brook-Krasny said. “On the local level, maybe not the federal level, they understand it’s the Democrats who support those services.”
Money will be another factor. Brook-Krasny has more than $69,000 to take on a Republican opponent. McCarthy has just under $7,000 in the bank. Regina-Potter, a Dyker Heights Republican district leader who enjoys more name recognition than McCarthy, has far less — $262.33, according to campaign finance records.
The Republican wave flooded Southern Brooklyn last year when Turner (R–Sheepshead Bay) beat Assemblyman David Weprin (D–Queens) in the race to replace disgraced Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, who stepped down amid a sexting scandal. Storobin (R–Brighton Beach) followed Turner’s upset by beating Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Marine Park) in the race to replace Democratic state Sen. Carl Kruger, who left the state legislature before pleading guilty to taking nearly $1 million in bribes.
But for every step forward, Republicans have been forced to take a step back when it comes to increasing its influence in the borough. The GOP base of operations has been Bay Ridge for years, where GOP leaders include Golden, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R–Bay Ridge), and Rep. Michael Grimm (R–Bay Ridge), who beat Democratic incumbent Michael McMahon in 2010. Turner and Storobin helped expand the GOP’s base further into Southern Brooklyn, but only for a brief time — both of their seats were eliminated when the state legislature re-mapped borough state and federal district lines.