Green Party candidate enters race for congress
The special election in the 11th Congressional District is no longer a two-man race.
Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) and Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan learned on Tuesday that a third candidate, James Lane, would be running in the May 5 special election as the Green Party candidate.
Lane was the Green Party candidate for Public Advocate in 2013. Lane, who works for an internet media company, lives in Brooklyn.
Lane said the two issues he will stress on the campaign trail are police accountability and climate change.
“We need to ensure that our police protect the well-being and safety of all residents, treating everyone with dignity and respect. The police like everyone else need to be held accountable for their actions. I reject policing techniques that end up targeting people based on their color or economic status,” he said in a statement.
Lane also called for more federal action to reduce climate change, noting that several communities in Staten Island and Brooklyn suffered devastating damage from Hurricane Sandy and have yet to be restored.
“Climate change is probably the greatest threat we face, especially in coastal cities like New York. We need an immediate massive investment in renewable energy and conservation. Investing in climate action is also a great way to create jobs. We also need to invest in helping our communities better withstand climate change, including restoring the natural barriers such as wetlands that help absorb storm surges,” Lane said.
Lane, Gentile and Donovan are all running in the special election to fill out the remainder of the term of Republican Michael Grimm, who resigned from congress on Jan. 5 after pleading guilty in Brooklyn Federal Court to tax fraud. Grimm had won re-election in November of 2014 and his term in office would have ended on Dec. 31, 2016.
Grimm’s district offices remain open. Staff members who worked for the former congressman remain on the job, assisting constituents. The staffers now work under the supervision of the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives and will remain in place until the winner of the May 5 special election takes office.
The 11th C.D. is composed of the entire borough of Staten Island, where a vast majority of the voters reside, and takes all or part of several Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Gravesend.
Gentile is a Bay Ridge resident.
The emergence of a Green Party candidate will likely hurt Gentile in the special election, since Lane will presumably siphon off left-leaning voters, according to political observers who spoke to the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday, the day after Lane announced that he had entered the race.
“It’s more of a problem for Gentile than it is for Donovan, that’s for sure,” one pundit told the Eagle.
But Jerry Kassar, chairman of the Brooklyn Conservative Party and a Donovan supporter, said Lane’s entry into the race will not hurt Gentile as much as people seem to think.
“Marginally, it may hurt Gentile. But with no funding available for a Green Party candidate, it’s questionable how many votes he would take away from Gentile,” he told the Eagle.
Gentile’s bigger problem is the fact that Donovan is such a strong candidate, Kassar said.
“I know people think Danny Donovan has an advantage strictly because the district is largely centered on Staten Island and he’s the DA over there. But he will do very well in Brooklyn as the Republican and Conservative candidate,” Kassar said.
Lane, meanwhile, is busy launching his campaign.
“I want to give a voice to the average New Yorkers in this election who is concerned about the need for living wage jobs, affordable health care, and a decent opportunity for all regardless of their race, sex, sexual orientation or country of origin,” he said in a statement in which he called the Democratic and Republican parties “two corporate dominated parties that promote the interests of the one percent.”
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