Three women are vying to be the next Kings County District Attorney following Ken Thompson’s sudden cancer death.
Public Advocate Tish James, former prosecutor Ann Swern, and former Commissioner on Human Rights Patricia Gatling are all lobbying Gov. Andrew Cuomo to appoint them to a temporary post until the seat goes up for reelection at the end of 2017, political insiders say.
Thompson left Chief Assistant District Attorney Eric Gonzales in charge days before his death, but the governor may choose to appoint someone else.
Cuomo issued a statement that “options are being reviewed,” and chatter that the three women are pressing for the job indicates the governor may be looking to replace Gonzales, a source in the legal community said. Cuomo typically declines to make such appointments — he did not install new prosecutors in Eerie, Westchester, Nassau, and Richmond counties when district attorneys there left their posts.
Brooklyn power brokers’ support for the women is split.
The county organization headed by party boss Frank Seddio is supposedly backing Swern, whom he appointed to a low-level party position earlier this year — but borough congressional reps Hakeem Jeffries (D–Canarsie), Nydia Velazquez (D–Red Hook), Yvette Clarke (D–Flatbush), and Jerry Nadler (D–Borough Park) are rumored to be backing James, a political source said.
James was elected public advocate in 2013 and previously served as councilwoman in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene.
Swern and Gatling both worked for former District Attorney Charles Hynes, who Thompson unseated in 2013.
Swern was implicated in a 2012 Department of Investigation probe for working on Hynes’s failed reelection campaign on taxpayers’ time.
Gatling was a top assistant under Hynes until former Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed her to head the Human Rights Commission in 2002. She was one of few Bloomberg-era appointees to keep her post once Mayor DeBlasio took over in 2014.
But James and Gatling have bad blood between them. The public advocate got Gatling fired from her post as the city’s civil rights watchdog a day after writing a letter to DeBlasio accusing Gatling of being a do-nothing in late 2014.
“Her and Tish James have been locked in a blood feud for over 20 years,” the source said. “Tish James got her pushed out, and now they’re going head-to-head trying to get this.”
But Gatling may have an in with the governor — he appointed her to the Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights in 2015, and she is the only one of the three to ever receive such an appointment.
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