Trump boosts Donovan in primary race

President Donald Trump made a potentially election-clinching endorsement on Wednesday when he threw his support behind Rep. Dan Donovan (R–Bay Ridge) in his heated race against the convicted felon who once held the Ridge-to-Rock seat.

“There is no one better to represent the people of N.Y. and Staten Island (a place I know very well) than @RepDanDonovan, who is strong on Borders & Crime, loves our Military & our Vets, voted for Tax Cuts and is helping me to Make America Great Again,” the 45th President posted to Twitter. “Dan has my full endorsement!

But Brooklyn’s lone Republican congressman actually defied Trump when he voted against his controversial tax bill back in December, which the majority of his colleagues passed, as well as his party’s attempts to repeal Obamacare.

Donovan’s challenger, who served seven months behind bars for tax fraud, criticized the incumbent for his vote and said even with the Commander in Chief’s support, the constituents know his true colors.

“All the endorsements in the world can’t change the facts: Donovan has failed to pass even one substantive bill into law, and has voted against President Trump every time it’s mattered — from failing to repeal Obamacare, to banning sanctuary cities, and even against tax cuts,” the former pol said.

But Trump’s support could seal the deal for Donovan, according to the chairman of the newly formed Brooklyn Reform Party, who lost the Republican primary for the Bay Ridge Council seat in September.

“In primaries, it is the extremes of both parties that decide who will win. Although this is unfortunate, in this GOP primary in Staten Island and southwest Brooklyn, these voters overwhelmingly support President Trump,” said Bob Capano. “The entire rationale behind Michael Grimm’s candidacy has been eviscerated with the President’s strong endorsement of Congressman Donovan.”

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A Park Slope pol plans to throw his support behind local attorney Douglas Schneider, who is running for the low-level, unpaid post of District Leader to represent the Brooklyn Democratic Party, along with the position’s female counterpart, Lori Citron Knipel.

“Doug is a committed community activist and attorney who has worked or volunteered in Democratic politics for twenty years. His knowledge, skills, and vision will be a tremendous asset for the Kings County Democratic Party and the 44th Assembly District,” said Assemblyman Robert Carroll (D–Park Slope). “Doug and Lori together will make a great team and I look forward to working with them on issues big and small across the neighborhoods of the 44th.”

Schneider threw his hat into the ring back in January to unseat the current long-time district leader, Jacob Gold, before Gold announced he would not seek re-election following a damning report revealing the thousands of dollars he spent from his state-run campaign coffers to fund his lavish lifestyle.

Gold, who has held the position for 43 years, allegedly siphoned $132,432 from his war chest over the past decade to buy pricey suits, perfume, and cigars, according to a May 21 report from the New York Post.

And just two days after the article ran — in which the head of good-government Citizens Union and former Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum said Gold’s spending raised eyebrows — Gold sent out a press release defending his tenure but also announcing his political retirement.

“I assure you that I have never done anything illegal, immoral or even remotely unethical. I assure you my service as your leader has always been to further the best interest of this district,” said Gold in a document titled “I Quit.” “To avoid any further distractions from the genuine issues in the coming campaign, I am choosing not to seek reelection.”

Carroll — who originally had his sights set on ousting Gold for the low-level post in 2016, but then pivoted to the salaried gig up in Albany when former Park Slope Assemblyman Jim Brennan announced his retirement — thanked Gold for his years of service in the Democratic party.

“We have been lucky to have a District Leader in Jacob Gold who has been an active and dedicated leader in our neighborhoods and a staunch progressive Democrat,” said Carroll in a statement released along with Gold’s on May 23. “I wish him only the best in retirement.”

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Rep. Yvette Clarke (D–Crown Heights) finally gave in to her challenger’s repeated requests to debate ahead of next month’s Democratic primary — but it’s almost too little too late, said Adem Bunkeddeko, running to unseat Clarke, who has held her post since 2007.

“After weeks of denying voters the opportunity to hear directly from both candidates because she was ‘too busy,’ my opponent has finally agreed to one debate,” said Bunkeddeko. “It is deeply disappointing that there will not be a series of debates throughout the district, but I am not surprised.”

Bunkeddeko had invited the long-time pol to talk about issues facing the 9th Congressional District, which runs from Gerritsen Beach and Sheepshead Bay up to Park Slope and Crown Heights, before voters cast their ballots on June 26 — but Clarke never responded, according to Bunkeddeko, who said he’s eager to finally go head-to-head.

“I look forward to debating my record for change and vision for the future against incumbent Rep. Clarke and her record of no results,” he said.

The debate will air June 19 on NY1’s Inside City Hall with journalist Errol Louis moderating, just a week before the election.

Clarke’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

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Republican Steve Saperstein kicked off his campaign to fill the now-vacant Bay Ridge-to-Coney Island Assembly seat after Assemblywoman Pamela Harris resigned in disgrace in April.

Saperstein, who lost to Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay) in the November 2017 general election, officially threw his hat into the ring for the Albany post on May 29 at the Salty Dog in Bay Ridge, joined by Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R–Bay Ridge) and state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge).

Saperstein, who has not yet filed any contributions with the state Board of Elections, will go on to face the winner of the Democratic primary — which is so far between two declared candidates, Coney Islanders Mathylde Frontus and Ethan Lustig-Elgrably.

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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