Ridge Republican fiddles with Working Family line • Brooklyn Paper

Ridge Republican fiddles with Working Family line

He’s outta line!

Republican Bay Ridge Council candidate Liam McCabe hijacked his Democratic challenger’s uncontested place on the Working Families Party line by using what the progressive party considers a “malicious attempt” to steal the party’s ballot spot.

The Working Families Party had endorsed Democrat Justin Brannan in the heavily populated race to replace term-limited Councilman Vincent Gentile, assuming it was giving him a guaranteed spot on the ballot in the November general election. But McCabe used a maneuver called “opportunity to ballot” to force an open primary for the Working Families Party line in just six weeks, so voters will have a choice between either selecting Brannan, or writing in any name they choose.

The move is technically legal, but sneaky and mischievous nonetheless, said New York Working Families Party director Bill Lipton, suggesting that McCabe is taking his cue from the underhanded tactics of his own party’s leader.

“Trump Republicans know they can’t beat Justin Brannan on the merits, so they are trying to confuse voters by attempting to steal the WFP ballot line, which is the good housekeeping seal of approval for progressives, for their right wing candidate,” Lipton said in an e-mailed statement. “It’s pathetic and wrong and it won’t succeed.”

But McCabe — who says he’s already collected about 30 signatures from registered Working Families Party voters, more than the required amount to open up the ballot — contends he only used the obscure tactic to give voters a choice other than Brannan, a former staffer for Mayor DeBlasio’s administration, who McCabe believes Hizzoner tapped to take over for Gentile.

“A lot of people in that party, these are union guys, Trump supporters, not necessarily far left-wing political people, and none of them support Bill DeBlasio,” McCabe said. “And DeBlasio basically runs the Working Families Party from the top down, and in my opinion, was trying to hand pick Justin Brannan as the next councilman for this neighborhood.”

McCabe hasn’t decided if he’ll actually campaign to win the progressive nomination and snatch the line right out from under Brannan — he just wants to give the neighborhood a choice, he said.

Some have accused McCabe of colluding with one of Brannan’s most prominent Democratic opponents — Khader El-Yateem, who unsuccessfully sought the Working Families Party’s endorsement — to go after the line as a way to tie up Brannan’s campaign and help out El-Yateem, Crain’s first reported.

But McCabe says that’s a bunch of malarkey — his only motive was taking a stand against DeBlasio’s alleged, behind-the-scenes string-pulling, he said.

“I saw that [report], that’s insane, I’m completely opposed to El-Yateem,” he said. “The only malicious act is Mayor DeBlasio trying to dictate who the next councilman is from Bay Ridge, and I’m proud to be the only candidate saying loudly and proudly ‘no’ to Bill DeBlasio.”

El-Yateem’s camp is also calling the rumor total hokum.

“The notion that we would be involved with this is absurd,” said campaign manager Kayla Santosuosso. “Our energy is being spent where it matters: knocking on doors and talking to voters. We will continue to stay focused on the residents of District 43 and the issues they face.”

But regardless of the motive, Brannan is confident in the voters’ choice, said his campaign spokesman Jon Greenfield.

“The registered voters of the Working Families Party are far too smart and savvy to allow a Republican conservative candidate to try to steal the Working Families line, and they will respond appropriately at the ballot,” he said.

• • •

A feud is brewing in Borough Park.

Borough Park Councilman David Greenfield’s hand-picked successor Kalman Yeger may face a challenger after all — Borough Park Assemblyman Dov Hikind’s son, Yoni Hikind.

Hikind entered the race on Tuesday night, announcing his candidacy in a video released on social media.

Hikind, a social worker, told voters he’s eager to take on a job that allows him to continue to help people, and that growing up, his dad was the perfect role model.

“I’ve been witness to a father who gave me front row access to demonstration of what it means to truly care. In my home, more than anything else, making a difference in people’s lives was the single most important lesson taught to me by far,” said Hikind. “I’m so excited about this opportunity because I can’t think of a better job for me to be applying for.”

Hikind will run on the independent line “Our Neighborhood,” he told the New York Daily News, since Greenfield controversially and conveniently stepped down from his powerful seat after the deadline for candidates to get on the primary ballot.

And just minutes after Hikind threw his hat in the ring, the mudslinging quickly began, with Yeger calling him out for making the announcement during the holy Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av.

“My opponent chose Tisha B’Av as the day to launch his campaign. #classy,” Yeger wrote on Twitter that night.

Hikind’s decision comes amid a well-known feud between his father and Greenfield — the origins of which no one but the two men really know.

Greenfield was accused of anonymously blogging about the state legislator under the alias name Dov Gordon, under which he also allegedly boosted his own name.

• • •

Rock-to-Ridge Rep. Dan Donovan is feeling the heat!

Army veteran Max Rose threw his helmet in the ring against Donovan (R–Bay Ridge) — he’s the fifth Democrat to challenge the former Staten Island District Attorney.

Rose, who lives on the Rock and works in healthcare — and who previously served as a special assistant to the late District Attorney Ken Thompson — is positioning himself as a moderate, linking Donovan to President Trump, but also calling out his own party for failing to improve the lives of his would-be constituents.

“Dan Donovan and President Trump have broken their promise to focus on creating jobs and better opportunities for working people. Instead, Washington D.C. is paralyzed by scandal, gridlock, and petty name calling. It’s a disgrace,” Rose said in a press release. “In today’s economy, too many people on Staten Island and in South Brooklyn put in the work, but are left out of the prosperity they helped create. Benefits get cut. Taxes go up. And they still can’t plan for their kids’ future, no matter what they do. These problems are not new and both parties have failed to solve them.”

Rose joins Bay Ridge resident Mike Decillis, Staten Islander Zach Emig, Bensonhurst resident Boyd Melson, and Staten Islander Michael DeVito all vying for the Democratic nomination in a notoriously conservative district.

Donovan took over for disgraced Rep. Michael Grimm (R–Staten Island) after winning a special election in 2015. He sailed to victory against his Democratic challenger, Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge), with 21,227 votes compared to Gentile’s 11,304. And in 2012, Grimm easily won the seat against Democratic candidate Mark Murphy with 79,416 votes compared to Murphy’s 65,846, according to city records.

Also jumping into the race, in a primary challenge to Donavan, is a convicted felon.

• • •

It’s not a done deal!

Borough Park Councilman David Greenfield, who controversially timed his announcement that he would step down from his seat next year to head the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, may not be able to take over that organization so fast after all.

In 2013, after the Met Council’s now-disgraced previous leadership, including David Cohen and William Rapfogel, stole millions in a two-decade kickback scheme, the state Attorney General’s office established a set of guidelines for the organization to follow in order to qualify for public funds — and one of those rules is that a combination of three city and state agencies have final approval on a new executive director, as first reported by City and State.

But Greenfield’s new role at the Met Council is not yet set in stone because one of those agencies, the state’s Division of the Budget, was not involved with his selection, a spokesman said in an e-mailed statement, and is not yet on board.

“The monitoring agreements established in 2013 provides that the City and State have final approval on the executive director of the Met Council. To date, the Division of Budget has not been consulted or involved with this proposed appointment and, accordingly, has not approved it,” said Morris Peters.

But Peters said he expects to discuss his candidacy soon.

“Along with the city, we will be discussing the candidate with the Met Council shortly, and we expect all monitors will meet with the Board in the coming weeks to obtain a status update on operations,” he said.

The two city agencies responsible for overseeing the Met Council’s compliance are the Department of Investigation and the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services.

The Department of Investigation declined to answer specific questions, and only said the process for new hiring is ongoing, and the Office of Contract Services didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Neither Greenfield or the Met council returned requests for comment.

• • •

More drama in Bay Ridge!

Democratic candidate Khader El-Yateem’s campaign is charging that his opponent Justin Brannan is unfairly skirting the city’s campaign finance laws.

El-Yateem’s campaign filed a complaint with the city’s Campaign Finance Board on July 24 alleging that Brannan’s camp failed to disclose thousands of dollars in expenditures, like rent, posters, and petitions, over the last few months, and should be denied taxpayer’s cash through the city’s matching funds program, the Observer first reported.

Brannan had originally only listed $102 in expenses from mid-May to mid-July, according to city records as of Aug. 1 — a far cry from the more than $20,000 several of his opponents raked up in the same span. The second-smallest amount, among the nine candidates vying for the same office, was still $12,000. (One candidate has not filed anything as of yet.)

And since January, the Brannan campaign has filed $36,556 in expenses — including about $24,000 from May to July — with the State’s Board of Elections, which is notoriously less stringent than the city in monitoring a candidate’s cash flow.

But only $12,318 of that was documented with the city since he started campaigning in December, records showed as of Aug. 1.

Only after repeated questions from this paper about why its expenses weren’t matching up, the campaign admitted it failed to list a few thousand in campaign-related payments and sent an amendment to the state on July 25, one day after the complaint was filed, and then another amendment to the city on Aug. 1, 15 days after the disclosure deadline — which a spokesman chalked up to being typical clerical errors. The most updated city records on Aug. 2 now reflect that the campaign has spent $24,933 over the last three months.

“We amended the expenditures to more accurately reflect any and all expenditures incurred by the campaign during the most current cycle,” said Jon Greenfield.

But the complaint against Brannan still accuses him of omitting pricey expenditures, including those shared with Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge), who is running for District Attorney — the two candidates petitioned together and share a rented space on Third Avenue.

And whether the campaign’s failure to disclose its expenses on time was truly a silly error or a way to duck the law, Brannan has no excuse, and should be subject to the city’s strong campaign finance laws just like every other candidate, said El-Yateem’s campaign manager.

“Every other candidate, including those with much less experience and institutional support, has managed to play by the rules,” said Kayla Santosuosso. “We expect him to do the same.”

But a spokesman for Brannan was offended by the accusation, and said it’s “frankly irresponsible” to claim the campaign purposely omitted such payments, especially now that everything has been corrected and is up to date.

“The Brannan campaign has fully disclosed any and all expenditures in the interest of transparency and to accurately reflect the cost incurred to the campaign to date,” said Greenfield.

The Campaign Finance Board doesn’t comment ongoing complaints, a spokesman for the city agency said.

• • •

Endorsement round-up:

The 504 Democratic Club and the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City endorsed Bay Ridge Council candidate Kevin Peter Carroll.

District Council 9 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades endorsed Bay Ridge Council candidate Vincent Chirico for the same seat.

One of the city’s largest labor unions, District Council 27, threw its support behind incumbent Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Sunset Park). He also locked up the endorsements of Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) and Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D–Red Hook).

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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