Colton drops out of congress race

All signs point toward Gentile nomination

February 23, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Assemblymember Bill Colton, who announced with great fanfare last month that he was giving strong consideration to running for the Brooklyn-Staten Island congressional seat vacated by Republican Michael Grimm, quietly withdrew from the race over the weekend.

Colton (D-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) issued a statement announcing his decision not to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for the special election for the 11th Congressional District to be held on May 5.

“I strongly believe with the help of all of my announced supporters, together we were poised to win a major upset in the 11th C.D. race by presenting my strong track record of uniting people to fight for their real needs and concerns. But now with the May 5 special election date and with my Assembly obligations and duties to the state budget and other critical legislation, I am not able to become a candidate at this time,” Colton said in the statement.

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“In fact, I am required to be in Albany, working on the budget and other critical legislation, for all but two weeks between now and May 5,” Colton added. 

Colton held a rally last month at the United Progressive Democratic Club in Bensonhurst and announced to a packed room of supporters that he was thinking about running for Congress. At the rally, a slew of supporters, including Councilmember Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-parts of Bensonhurst) spoke and publicly urged him to run.

Colton’s decision to back out of the race appeared to clear the deck for Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst), who many Democratic Party insiders have long considered to be the front-runner for the nomination.

Leaders of the Staten Island Democratic Party, who have the largest say in the matter, given the geographic makeup of the district, are scheduled to meet on Feb. 26 to select a candidate.

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo named May 5 as the date for a special election in the Brooklyn-Staten Island congressional seat.

The presumptive Republican candidate is Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, who sewed up the nomination quickly.

Grimm, a former F.B.I. agent who had served for two terms in the House won a third term in November, resigned from Congress on Jan. 5 after pleading guilty to tax fraud.

Cuomo set the date after Judge Jack Weinstein ruled on Feb. 17 in a lawsuit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court by eight voters the 11th Congressional District that the governor could not delay setting a date. In his written ruling, Weinstein ordered Cuomo to set a date and warned that if the governor did not obey the court’s ruling, then he, the judge, would set a date.

With Colton out of the race, the Democratic nomination comes down to Gentile, Staten Island electrician and Middle Class Action Project co-founder Robert Holst, and newcomer Amber Adler, the former chief of staff of the International Center for Autism Research and Education, who announced her intention to seek the nomination last week.

On Monday, however, Alder told the Brooklyn Eagle that she had yet to sit down with Democratic Party leaders to discuss her possible candidacy.

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