A political chasm may separate them, but for one special night, they partied in the same building.
The Shorefront Democratic Club and the Brooklyn South Conservative Club held simultaneous fund-raisers in the same Dyker Heights catering hall on March 12, for candidates vying to fill tax-cheating former congressman Michael Grimm’s seat. Politicos from both sides of the aisle descended on Sirico’s, separated only by a set of stairs and an unspoken nonaggression pact.
Open bars oiled up both shindigs, but there was still friction. Conservatives claim they booked the hall’s first-floor ballroom first, but liberals stole their selection with a big, fat check, relegating them to a basement party room.
“We had it months ago,” said Christine Sisto, who organized the conservative shindig. “[Sirico’s] said, ‘Print the invitation,’ but the Democrats wrote a huge check. But I still wanted to have it here, and I knew they had the downstairs room. We wanted to show [Democrats] they don’t dominate the city.”
The Shorefront Democrats’ leader countered that she had reserved the prime digs well before her rivals.
“This day was always ours,” said Dilia Schack, who claimed she booked the room back in June of 2014.
Rival congressional candidates Dan Donovan (R–Staten Island) and Vincent Genitle (D–Bay Ridge) narrowly missed standing under the same roof, with Gentile leaving for an engagement on bucolic Staten Island just minutes before Donovan addressed potential voters in the conservative room.
It was the second near-miss that day for the two, who are both vying for disgraced Rep. Michael Grimm’s vacant congressional seat in a May 5 special election. Donovan and Gentile were both scheduled to be at the same Council hearing earlier on March 12, but Donovan opted to attend the funeral for a Staten Island judge instead, The Observer reported.
Conservatives at the Dyker benefit could hear Democrats shuffling their feet on the dance floor above, and one Republican pol joked that the liberal crowd was trying to drown out fears that Gentile couldn’t take the Republican-heavy Staten Island.
“They’re making all that noise up there because they’re jealous — jealous of the next congressman,” joked state Sen. Martin Golden, referring to Donovan.
But the animosity between the building’s upper and lower houses was all in good fun, another conservative said.
“It was a coincidence, but a good one,” said Gerry Kassar, a Conservative Party leader. “There’s more excitement, more attitude for the whole evening.”