Ken Thompson defeats District Attorney Charles “Joe” Hynes

Ken Thompson unseats Hynes in historic election, will become first black DA

Fought the law: Former federal prosecutor Ken Thompson became the first challenger to unseat an incumbent district attorney in 102 years.
The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Brooklyn primary voters rendered a stunning verdict on six-term District Attorney Charles “Joe” Hynes — and sentenced him to retirement.

Former federal prosecutor Ken Thompson scored an historic upset against Hynes in the Sept. 10 Democratic primary — bringing the incumbent’s 23-year tenure as Brooklyn’s top lawman to a startling close. Thompson is the first challenger to unseat an incumbent district attorney in more than a century, and will become the first African-American to hold the office.

Hynes — who had already secured the Republican and Conservative lines on the November ballot — chose to bow out of his position. The defeated DA said he would spend the following months working with Thompson to transfer the reins of power.

“I had a very, very good conversation with Ken Thompson, very respectful, and I’m looking forward to working with him,” Hynes said at his campaign’s party at the Heights Cafe in Brooklyn Heights.

Thompson praised Hynes at his victory celebration at Sanders Studios in Clinton Hill.

The gracious remarks contrast sharply with the raw rhetoric of the campaign trail. The two battled in a bitter race, with Thompson capitalizing on a spate of scandals in Hynes’s office.

The challenger slammed Hynes for recusing himself from prosecuting disgraced Assemblyman Vito Lopez on allegations of sexual harassment because of his close political ties to the former Democratic Party boss. And Thompson went after the incumbent for several wrongful convictions resulting from the alleged misconduct of star assistant district attorney Michael Vecchione and retired police detective Louis Scarcella.

Hynes also suffered from bad press over his office’s weak response to sex abuse cases in the Orthodox Jewish community — a voting block that long backed him.

Hynes pointed to Thompson’s representation of a hotel maid who accused International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of rape in 2011 — where the trial lawyer’s conduct triggered an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney. Hynes has also hit Thompson for defending disgraced state senators Pedro Espada and John Sampson while Thompson was serving as the legislative body’s attorney during the Aqueduct “racino” scandal in 2011.

A second Hynes challenger, Abe George, dropped out of the race in late July and endorsed Thompson.

The last time a challenger defeated a sitting DA was in 1911, when John F. Clarke lost to James Cropsey.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him
Updated 10:14 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Van Buren St Resident from bedford stuyvesant says:
Glory be to GOD!
Sept. 11, 2013, 8:21 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Hey Hynes, don't let the door break your hip on the way out! I watched this guy campaign down in Carroll Gardens, and I noticed he didn't even bother approaching anyone who even looked like they were under 50 years old. Someone born when "talkies" were still considered innovative shouldn't be enforcing the law in this day and age. When there is an entire TV series dedicated to fixing the wrongful convictions of the Brooklyn D.A.'s office, it's time for that D.A. to go.
Sept. 11, 2013, 9:05 am
Rick from Bay Ridge says:
Sept. 11, 2013, 9:32 am
HB from Fort Greene says:
I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

..and that goes BOTH ways!
Sept. 11, 2013, 9:55 am
Bay Ridger from Bay Ridge says:
Long overdue. Hope this is just the start of getting rid of these crusty old hacks.

Marty Golden included.
Sept. 11, 2013, 10:09 am
Joe Z from Dyker Heights says:
I'm so glad for this.

He coulda and shoulda left gracefully, or at least MORE gracefully, a long time ago.
Sept. 11, 2013, 11:47 am
Homey from Crooklyn says:
Awesome, he was a flunky of the Hasidim.
Sept. 11, 2013, 1:07 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
This is the best result of the entire election. Charles Hynes has been the consigliere of the corrupt Brooklyn Democratic establishment for decades. He always found a way to look the other way when the guiding lights of the Brooklyn Democrats broke the law. When Vito Lopez physically assaulted poll workers who opposed his protege Marty Dilan in 2003, Hynes could have ended the whole charade then and there (police officers were witness to it), but he didn't. Time will tell if Ken Thompson breaks with that tradition or not, but his election at least gives the borough a chance to start over again and break the corrupt feudal system that is Brooklyn politics. Yeah, I know, wishful thinking, but at least it's a change from the usual suspects.
Sept. 11, 2013, 3:09 pm
Miles McDonald III from Fort Greene says:
Amazing! This corrupt bum should be have kicked out and PROSECUTED at least a decade ago. So so many reasons to loathe this man professionally and personally...
Sept. 12, 2013, 12:06 am
nancy from coney says:
good that piece of crap is out he was in the criminal and not 4 law abiding people i hope he get s a taste of his own medicine one day trash
Sept. 14, 2013, 8:35 am
nancy from coney says:
hes for the criminals i meant just the sightof him or mention of his name makes me sick
Sept. 14, 2013, 8:37 am
Leon from Kensington says:
Hynes was a tired old whore who turned his last trick.

Good ridance
Sept. 14, 2013, 3:06 pm
Sara from Mill Basin says:
Hynes lost because he couldnt explain his role in the death of Judge Phillips.

Soon he will have to answer to a higher authority.
Sept. 14, 2013, 3:32 pm
Milton from Sheepshead Bay says:

That last time a challenger beat a sitting DA was in 1981. Liz Holtzman beat Norman Rosen.
Sept. 15, 2013, 3:55 am

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: