My candidate Vinnie: Gentile adopts shorter name in House bid

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

He’s the candidate formerly known as Vincent.

Councilman Vincent “Vinnie” Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) has adopted the diminutive version of his moniker for his run to replace disgraced former Rep. Michael Grimm, breaking with past campaigns where he went whole-hog with his handle.

The congressional hopeful’s new campaign literature refers exclusively to “Vinnie” Gentile, but posters from previous runs for state Senate and the Council have always identified him as “Vincent.”

Politicos speculated the move may be an attempt to ingratiate himself to Staten Islanders, who comprise most of the 11th Congressional District.

“It could be alleged that he’s trying to be more Staten Island-like by calling himself Vinnie,” said Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf. “He is certainly the underdog, so anything he can do to help is good.”

A conservative said the apparent attempt at boosting his forgotten borough bona fides belies a fundamental disconnection from Rock voters.

“The worst thing you can do is look like you don’t understand [Staten] Island,” said former Grimm aide Liam McCabe, who heads the Brooklyn South Conservative Club and worked for the last man to hold the seat.

Boosters, on the other hand, said the move would resonate with voters in New York’s most bucolic borough.

“The people on Staten Island know him as ‘Vinnie,’ ” said Shorefront Democratic Club president Dilia Schack. “He’s the same Gentile.”

Conservatives don’t seem to hold it against him, either.

“I’ve known him since he was in grammar school, and he’s always been Vinnie,” said Jerry Kassar, chairman of the Kings County Conservative Party.

And even his opponent evoked Shakespeare’s famous query: “What’s in a name?”

“We’ve had a mayor who was elected whose name was Rudy, was Mike, was Bill … I’m Dan, so I’m not too sure that matters too much to voters,” said the Republican nominee, Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan.

Of course, Gentile wouldn’t be the first Brooklyn pol who has adjusted his name before running for office. Mayor Bill DeBlasio was born Warren Wilhelm.

Gentile said the shortened name is not part of a larger re-branding.

“There wasn’t a lot of analytical strategy here,” he said. “We decided ‘Vinnie’ would be a more familiar thing to put on a poster. On the ballot I’ll be ‘Vincent.’ ”

As far as nicknames go, the pol is in good company.

Famous Vinnies include actor Vinnie Jones, California hotdog mogul Vinnie Edmark, and Vinnie Vincent of the hard-rock band Kiss.

Among those who spell the diminutive with a “y” are Vinny Guadagnino of “Jersey Shore,” quarterback Vinny Testaverde, and marginally competent fictional lawyer Vinny Gambini, the titular character from 1992’s “My Cousin Vinny.”

Gentile opted for the “ie” construction because that’s how he’s always spelled it, he said.

Gentile’s given name is derived from the Latin “vincere,” which means “to win,” but critics were split over whether the name could be a self-fulfilling prophecy in the lawmaker’s congressional bid.

McCabe admitted that Gentile is a strong political presence.

“He’s a better candidate than [Domenic] Recchia,” said McCabe, referring to the guy who lost to Grimm despite Grimm’s pending federal indictment on tax fraud charges. “Politically, he’s a definite force.”

But John Quaglione, press secretary for state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge), thinks the Brooklyn councilman doesn’t stand a chance on the rugged lands of Shaolin.

“Barring a perfect storm, I don’t see how he wins it,” said Quaglione, who lost to Gentile in a bid for his Council seat in the last election.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Looking out for the little guy.
March 19, 2015, 6:25 am
bkmanhatman from nubrucklyn says:
Staten Island people are fools
March 19, 2015, 7:54 am
BrooklynGersh from The WT says:
Oh, I wish I had a tape recorder from all the fighting I had with Vince "Vince" DiMiceli, the Paper's legendary editor. For some reason, Vince (NOT his real name) insisted that he was the only real "Vince" and that Gentile, who often told me that he liked to be called "Vince" or "Vinny," MUST be referred to in the Paper as "Vincent."

I am so pleased to see that "Vinny" lives! Now, if Gentile could only run a campaign. Jesus, I'm more likely to win on a write-in than this guy is -- and he's on the ballot!
March 19, 2015, 9:29 am
ty from pps says:
It would also help his campaign if he wasn't such a scummy person.
March 19, 2015, 10:38 am
Joe from Bay Ridge says:
Gentile won't even win Bay Ridge. Bay Ridge will go for Donovan in epic proportions and it won't even be close. Donovan will win South Brooklyn and will win Staten Island, therefore winning it all.
March 19, 2015, 1:40 pm
Luigi from Dyker Heights says:
If Donovan wins the special NY-11 election this May, don't be surprised if he's considered for vice presidential running mate in 2016 for the GOP. He won't carry New York for the GOP, but he'll be a law and order type of asset to the ticket and he could be a national player.
March 19, 2015, 1:51 pm
Vince DiMiceli (Brooklyn Paper) from The Brooklyn Paper says:
Unlike Gersh, who goes by a fake name that — as you might guess — he uses for the specific purpose of calling attention to himself, my name is in fact "Vince," not "Vincent" or "Vinny" or "Vin" or "Vinnie" or "Gary."
March 19, 2015, 2:31 pm
he's a killer from bayridge says:
Vincent, Vinny/Vinnie, Vince or Vin, he's still the "Raccoon killer" from Bayridge. Praying on those adorable and intelligent defenseless creatures, it demonstrates his low character. I mean, give me a break, killing animals for votes, come on now. This is the sort of guy that wears pointy white hats and long white sheets. We need to pick kinder people that will provide us with care instead of fear. This guy's a predator.
March 19, 2015, 4:08 pm
Jimmy Jonas from Bay Ridge says:
He has ALWAYS been Vinnie. You make it sound like he just started it. Anyway, he's a Democrat. He's okay as a councilman, but for a position as House Representative, he will suck.

He will vote with Democrats on every issue because once he gets the job, he won't want to leave it, just like every other scumbag politician in our effed up Congress.

Maybe Donovan is a douche also but at least he's a Republican douche and isn't trying to destroy this country like Democrats are.
March 21, 2015, 10:06 am
o;d time brooklyn from slope says:
raccoons are vermin = get rid of them
March 21, 2015, 2:46 pm
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
"trying to destroy this country"

The rallying cry of the ignorant. Only the ignorant and desperate use this kind of hyperbole and think it's not hyperbole.
March 21, 2015, 4:45 pm

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: