Your guide to the May 5 special election

A very special election: Democratic Councilman Vincent Gentile, at left, and Republican Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan, at right, are vying to replace tax cheat Michael Grimm in Congress — along with Green Party candidate James Lane, center.
Brooklyn Daily
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Voters from Bay Ridge to Gravesend will go to the polls on May 5 in a special election for New York’s 11th Congressional District to replace tax cheat Michael Grimm, who stepped down on Jan. 5. Republican Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan and Democratic Brooklyn Councilman Vincent Gentile are the top contenders vying for the seat. Here’s how the two stack up.

Bona fides

Gentile is running on his experience as a legislator — first as a state senator representing both sides of the Narrows and later as a Brooklyn city councilman. Donovan is promising to use his position in a Republican-controlled Congress to bring home the bacon for his district.

View from the other side

Donovan is painting Gentile as a tax-and-spend liberal who has voted lock-step with Democratic Mayor DeBlasio and would blindly support Democratic President Barack Obama’s initiatives.

Gentile’s camp is characterizing Donovan as an inexperienced officeholder who wouldn’t have the brass to defy House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, who gave thousands of dollars to Donovan’s campaign.

Cash makes kings

Donovan has raised more than $600,000 — three times as much money as Gentile — and his political action committee donors gave him nearly as much as Gentile’s $195,000 fund-raising total.

Gentile missed a major boost when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee declined to fund his bid. The committee had already blown $5 million on former councilman Dominic Recchia’s failed November race against the now-disgraced Grimm.


The national party wasn’t the only blue booster to pass over Gentile. The Southern Brooklyn Democratic Club endorsed Green Party candidate James Lane on April 21, citing Gentle’s refusal to meet with the club or fill out its candidate questionnaire, the Staten Island Advance reported.

The councilman did get the nod from health care, service, hotel, and utilities workers unions. Mayor Bill DeBlasio backed Gentile and helped raise money for him, and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave the Brooklyn lawmaker a late endorsement on Thursday.

Donovan garnered endorsements from former mayor Rudolph Giuliani and practically every police and fire union in the city, plus several construction unions and a slew of Manhattan Chinese-American associations.

The special election is set for May 5.

— Max Jaeger

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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