Report: Gentile is Democratic frontrunner for Grimm’s seat
Councilmember Vincent Gentile has emerged as the frontrunner for the Democratic Party’s nomination as the candidate to run for the Brooklyn-Staten Island congressional seat vacated earlier this month by Republican Michael Grimm, according to a report in the Staten Island Advance.
The Advance reported on Jan. 25 that Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) will likely be chosen by party leaders to run for the congress seat in a special election. Governor Andrew Cuomo will set a date for the special election.
The presumed Republican candidate is Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan.
Grimm resigned from congress on Jan. 5 after pleading guilty to a charge of income tax fraud in federal court.
Gentile’s spokesman, Justin Brannan, told the Brooklyn Eagle via email that the councilmember has already met with party leaders to discuss his possible candidacy and that he would meet with them again “in short order.”
Gentile, who has served in the council since 2003, was a state senator from 1997 to 2002, representing a district that covered Bay Ridge and included parts of Staten Island. Gentile is also a former assistant district attorney who worked in the Special Victims Bureau in Queens County.
Brannan said Gentile would be a formidable candidate.
“From battling against tax hikes to making sure police officers have the newest bulletproof vests, Councilman Gentile has never backed down from a fight. As a former prosecutor and an assistant district attorney, as a state senator, and now as deputy majority leader of the New York City Council, Gentile has been a leader in our city. A Brooklyn native who represented Staten Island for six years, Councilman Gentile’s strong legislative record and unrivaled constituent services operation make him a very strong contender for the congressional seat,” Brannan said in a statement.
Assemblymember Bill Colton (D-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) has also expressed a strong interest in running.
The 11th Congressional District, which Grimm represented for four years, is composed of the entire borough of Staten Island and takes in parts of southwest Brooklyn, including Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst. Staten Island makes up the lion’s share of the district.
News of Gentile’s emergence as a frontrunner came after Staten Island Assemblymember Michael Cusick, a Democrat who had been perceived as the frontrunner, announced that he would not run.
“After much reflection I have concluded that the best way I can continue to serve my constituents is in the New York State Assembly. I am eagerly looking forward to continuing to lead the fight for toll relief, and to work on important issues like prescription drug abuse and the heroin epidemic and the education tax credit, which expands scholarship and programming opportunities. I am confident that this decision is best for me and my family and the people I represent on Staten Island,” Cusick said in a statement printed in the Advance.
Another well known Staten Island Democrat, former congress member Michael McMahon, is also said to be considering running, although Capital New York reported on Jan. 26 that he appears to be passing it up.
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