Hynes is back in the District Attorney race

New order in the court! Brooklyn boots 23-year District Attorney Hynes
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

He’s baaaaaack!

Brooklyn’s 23-year-incumbent district attorney — thought vanquished in the Sept. 10 Democratic primary — is making a shocking second coming as a Republican and Conservative candidate.

Charles “Joe” Hynes announced on Oct. 3 that he would resume his campaign against Dem nominee Ken Thompson, to whom the lawman had conceded on primary night. Hynes’s camp made the decision after realizing only 16 percent of Brooklyn’s Democrats voted in the race — and after hearing allegations that former Democratic Party boss Clarence Norman, who Hynes helped send up the river in 2005 for accepting illegal donations to his Assembly campaign, was steering Thompson’s campaign.

“He realizes that just a tiny amount of voters came out in that election, and he doesn’t believe he can stand by while someone who’s manipulated by Clarence Norman can run a District Attorney’s Office,” said Hynes’s new spokesman Jerry Schmetterer, who is on vacation from his regular job as director of public information at the district attorney’s office.

Schmetterer said Hynes raised $150,000 at a Bay Ridge fund-raiser on Oct. 2 — on top of the $24,000 the incumbent still had in the bank after primary night. Thompson had roughly $70,000 left over after Sept. 10, and a spokesman said the nominee has continued raising money in the weeks since.

Thompson’s camp adamantly denied that Norman had any role in the election effort, and blasted the incumbent for going back on his promise to concede and assist in the transition between administrations. The nonetheless predicted another Thompson victory.

“Clarence had absolutely nothing to do with the campaign,” said Thompson spokesman James Freedland, who predicted an easy victory in November. “It’s sad that Mr. Hynes refuses to accept the will of the people, as he repeatedly pledged to do last month. And we are confident all of Brooklyn’s voters will render the same overwhelming verdict as they did in the primary.”

Thompson beat Hynes by 18,000 votes, out of nearly 170,000 who participated in the primary — a margin of 10 percent.

The Thompson campaign said that Hynes has not been cooperative, as he had promised, in helping the primary victor transition into office in January.

A Republican Party source said that Hynes has had no conversations about campaigning on the party’s line with Kings County Republican chairman Craig Eaton. The GOP strategist speculated that state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) may be the driving figure behind Hynes’s revival, suggesting that Golden was hoping to boost turnout for Republican candidates like hizzoner hopeful Joe Lhota and Council contender John Quaglione. But the party leader said that all three efforts are doomed.

“It makes no sense to me. It’s pure fantasy. None of these candidates is well-positioned to win,” said the Republican.

Golden denied being behind the change of plans, or having held or attended the fundraiser on Wednesday. But the senator — who said he learned of Hynes’s decision to run on Oct. 1 — praised the vanquished lawman for his 23 years of service, and predicted he would have a strong showing in November.

“I think it’s great he’ll be able to give a strong, two-party challenge,” said Golden. “His policies have made this one of the safest counties in the country, and I think people will take a second look at him.”

But on Sept. 10, Hynes himself said he did not believe he stood a chance on the other parties’ lines.

“I just don’t think it’s realistic,” Hynes said.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him attwitter.com/WillBredderman.