Democratic state senate candidate Andrew Gounardes came out swinging against incumbent rival state Sen. Marty Golden in the first debate between the two men on Tuesday, charging that the five-term legislator is a GOP lackey who continuously votes against his constituents’ interests.
“We have a state senator who votes with upstate and Long Island Republicans 99.8 percent of the time and against Brooklyn,” Gounardes said.
Gounardes, a 26-year-old Eagle Scout and former aide to Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge), also slammed Golden for allowing neighborhood schools to become some of the most overcrowded in the city and refusing to support a bill that would allow rape victims to receive emergency contraception.
“Marty, you voted against that bill three times in Albany,” Gounardes said, drawing both boos and cheers from the highly polarized audience at the Dyker Heights Civic Association’s debate night at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church — an audience that included both newly minted Brooklyn Democratic boss Frank Seddio and Brooklyn Republican party chairman Craig Eaton.
Golden calmly defended his voting record, claiming that he’s repeatedly delivered for his constituents. He even managed to throw a few body blows at his challenger, claiming that Gounardes’s liberal, pie-in-the-sky ideas wouldn’t fly in Albany.
“Some of the things my good friend just alluded to are pure fantasy,” said Golden, who drew cheers from the audience when he lashed out against Gounardes’s belief that religious institutions should be required to provide birth control to employees and students even if it contradicts its religious teachings.
“The government has no place meddling in religion,” Golden said. “And I am the pro-life candidate.”
Golden also touted his own legislation that would lengthen prison sentences for those caught with a banned firearm.
“Illegal guns are the problem, and the only way to solve the problem is to put the bad guys in jail,” said Golden, receiving another round of applause.
Golden’s district, which extends from Bay Ridge to Marine Park, has more registered Democrats than Republicans, but his right-of-center constituents are conservative voters and have helped elect Republican Reps. Michael Grimm and Bob Turner and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R–Bay Ridge).
In 2010, Golden trounced Democratic challenger Michael DiSanto, getting more than 65 percent of the vote. This year, Golden’s more than prepared to take on Gounardes: he has a campaign warchest of more than $455,000 — three times more than Gounardes, who has just over $155,000.
Election day is Nov. 6.