Brooklyn voted for the hometown hopeful, but it wasn’t enough.
Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan roundly defeated Brooklyn Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) in a May 5 special election to replace confessed tax cheat Michael Grimm in New York’s 11th Congressional District, which spans the Narrows, covering Staten Island and Parts of Brooklyn.
But the only thing narrow on Election Day was the straight separating the two boroughs — Donovan bested the Bay Ridge lawmaker by 40 points. Gentile took his home borough of Brooklyn, however, winning just shy of 60 percent of Kings County’s vote.
“Kings County — my home county — came out very big and I’m very appreciative,” Gentile said. “I’m looking forward to continuing serving them as the council member of the 43rd District. I wake up tomorrow as an elected official in Brooklyn. I’m humbled by the confidence you showed in me throughout the campaign. Unfortunately, tonight, we fell short of our goal.”
Donovan carried Staten Island, where two-thirds of the district resides, by a larger spread, securing 65 percent of ballots cast there.
The prosecutor called his victory a referendum on the political climate in New York and nationwide.
“You sent a message to President Obama, Nancy Pelosi — and yes, Bill DeBlasio — that their policies are wrong for our nation,” Donovan said. “And I will go to Washington to represent you. Not a lobbyist, not the party bosses — you and your family.”
The district — which includes all of Staten Island and parts of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, and Gravesend — is roundly considered a right-leaning enclave in a Democratic city. Voters elected one democrat to the House in the last 22 years — Michael McMahon, who did a two-year stint until Grimm unseated him in 2010. And they overwhelmingly re-elected Grimm in 2012 and 2014 — despite a 20-count indictment for tax fraud hanging over his head during the latter campaign.
But the pol copped to tax fraud late last year and stepped down in January, and a federal judge forced Gov. Cuomo to call a special election to fill the seat after voters on both sides of the Narrows sued the state’s top executive.
The Forgotten Borough’s preponderance of Republicans wasn’t the only factor giving Donovan the upper hand. He received endorsements from practically every police and fire union in the city — many of whose members live in the district.
Then there was Donovan’s war chest.
Relatively few voters made it to the polls on May 5. A little more than 40,000 people voted of the 375,651 folks registered in the district. By contrast, more than 110,000 people voted in the district’s November election.
Donovan faces re-election in November of 2016. Gentile has no immediate plans to un, but he’s not ruling it out, he said.