Bay Ridge

Congress race all set: It’s Gentile and Donovan for Grimm seat

February 27, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The two candidates to replace Michael Grimm's seat in congress is set. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File
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The race to succeed Michael Grimm in congress is now set. On Thursday, Bay Ridge Councilmember Vincent Gentile formally accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination and will run against Republican Daniel Donovan in the May 5 special election.

“I am honored to accept the Democratic nomination for New York’s 11th congressional district. Today, with the support of the Staten Island Democratic Party and the Brooklyn Democratic Party, we officially kick off a campaign to ensure that the thousands of hardworking New Yorkers finally get the representation they deserve in Congress,” Gentile said in a statement issued Thursday night, shortly after he accepted the nomination.

Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst), who has been a member of the City Council since 2003, has long rumored to be the favorite to win his party’s nomination, despite the appearance of other hopefuls in the race. His nomination became all but assured when Assemblymember Bill Colton (D-Gravesend-Bensonhurst), who had been aggressively pursuing the nomination, suddenly announced that he was dropping out of the race.

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The race will put Gentile against Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, who had secured the Republican Party’s nomination several weeks ago.

Grimm, a former F.B.I. agent who was elected to congress in a Republican wave 2010, and who won re-election twice after that, in 2012, and 2014, resigned on Jan. 5 after pleading guilty in Brooklyn Federal Court to tax fraud.

Governor Andrew Cuomo set May 5 as the date for the special election. But even that move did not come without controversy. As time passed after Grimm’s resignation, Cuomo had still not set the date, prompting a group of voters from Staten Island and Brooklyn to file a lawsuit in federal court charging that the lack of representation in congress was leaving the residents of the district disenfranchised.

Judge Jack Weinstein, who heard the case in court, agreed with the voters and ordered Cuomo to set a date for a special election.

The 11th Congressional District covers the entire borough of Staten Island and includes parts of several southwest Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Gravesend.

Staten Island takes up a vast majority of district, approximately two-thirds, which means that Staten Island voters play an important role in the election of any candidate.

No Brooklyn candidate has ever won the congressional seat.

But Gentile appears to be undaunted by the prospect of running against Donovan, who is more well known to Staten Islanders.

Gentile noted that prior to his role as a councilmember; he served in the State Senate, representing a district that included neighborhoods in both Brooklyn and Staten Island.

“Since 1996, when I was first elected to represent Staten Island and Brooklyn in the New York State Senate, I have fought tirelessly for the middle class families that are the backbone of our city. As an independent voice who has always put people before politics, I promise to lead the charge against broken Washington, D.C. politics that only benefit the super-rich, and have consistently failed to treat the residents of Brooklyn and Staten Island with the dignity and respect they deserve,” he said.

Besides, said Gentile, he has received “overwhelming support” from people all across the district who urged him to run.

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