Election rejection: Island DA trounces Brooklyn councilman in race to replace disgraced Michael Grimm

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Brooklyn voted for the hometown hopeful, but it wasn’t enough.

Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan roundly defeated Brooklyn Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) in a May 5 special election to replace confessed tax cheat Michael Grimm in New York’s 11th Congressional District, which spans the Narrows, covering Staten Island and Parts of Brooklyn.

But the only thing narrow on Election Day was the straight separating the two boroughs — Donovan bested the Bay Ridge lawmaker by 40 points. Gentile took his home borough of Brooklyn, however, winning just shy of 60 percent of Kings County’s vote.

“Kings County — my home county — came out very big and I’m very appreciati­ve,” Gentile said. “I’m looking forward to continuing serving them as the council member of the 43rd District. I wake up tomorrow as an elected official in Brooklyn. I’m humbled by the confidence you showed in me throughout the campaign. Unfortunately, tonight, we fell short of our goal.”

Donovan carried Staten Island, where two-thirds of the district resides, by a larger spread, securing 65 percent of ballots cast there.

The prosecutor called his victory a referendum on the political climate in New York and nationwide.

“You sent a message to President Obama, Nancy Pelosi — and yes, Bill DeBlasio — that their policies are wrong for our nation,” Donovan said. “And I will go to Washington to represent you. Not a lobbyist, not the party bosses — you and your family.”

The district — which includes all of Staten Island and parts of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, and Gravesend — is roundly considered a right-leaning enclave in a Democratic city. Voters elected one democrat to the House in the last 22 years — Michael McMahon, who did a two-year stint until Grimm unseated him in 2010. And they overwhelmingly re-elected Grimm in 2012 and 2014 — despite a 20-count indictment for tax fraud hanging over his head during the latter campaign.

But the pol copped to tax fraud late last year and stepped down in January, and a federal judge forced Gov. Cuomo to call a special election to fill the seat after voters on both sides of the Narrows sued the state’s top executive.

The Forgotten Borough’s preponderance of Republicans wasn’t the only factor giving Donovan the upper hand. He received endorsements from practically every police and fire union in the city — many of whose members live in the district.

Then there was Donovan’s war chest.

With totals exceeding $600,000, the prosecutor handily out-raised the Brooklyn lawmaker, who cobbled together about $195,000, filings show.

Relatively few voters made it to the polls on May 5. A little more than 40,000 people voted of the 375,651 folks registered in the district. By contrast, more than 110,000 people voted in the district’s November election.

Donovan faces re-election in November of 2016. Gentile has no immediate plans to un, but he’s not ruling it out, he said.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JusttheMax.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Common Cents from Crown Heights says:
Didn't Donovan have a booger in his nose in his commercial?
May 6, 2015, 5:12 am
ty from pps says:
vinnie came up short.
May 6, 2015, 6:44 am
Joe from Bay Ridge says:
Now Donovan can represent the people of Staten Island and southern Brooklyn.
May 6, 2015, 7:28 am
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
I guess the bright side is that he won't be a district attorney anymore. That's definitely a positive result.

Now, let's see if he follows in Grimm's footsteps and threatens to toss NY1 reporters off the mezzanine of the U.S. Capitol Building.
May 6, 2015, 10:33 am
Mustache Pete from Fort Greene says:
Donovan managed to avoid saying a word about Eric Garner. Gov. Cuomo proved his cowardice by not backing Gentile. Now we know it - on Staten Island and south Brooklyn, some people just don't give a damn about justice if it involves black people.
May 6, 2015, 12:22 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
Let me take the time to offend everyone. First, and frankly, who really cares what Staten Island believes. We all know why SI is dominated by Republicans. White flight of the 1970s and 1980s.

Second, and most times, police are just doing the ——ty job no one else wants to do . Give them a break.

And third, Bklyn is a pretty good place.
May 6, 2015, 3:10 pm
TOM from Brooklyn says:
40,000 voters! Pretty good, I think.

Did Vinnie get more than De Blasio last year?
May 6, 2015, 3:31 pm
Moses Kestenbaum ODA from Williamsburg says:
Deblasio , Obama and all liberals down on you. Let's hope the voting public will pick up on this and throw all these liberals out at next round.
May 6, 2015, 5:31 pm
John from Newkirk Plaza says:
New York City and State have relatively low turnouts in all elections. Perhaps there are too many. All elected offices should have terms of four years.
May 6, 2015, 11:40 pm
Dan from Gowanus says:
Yeah, Staten Island sure sent the nation a message! If you thought Grimm was bad, wait till you get a big taste of Staten Island Donovan!
May 7, 2015, 10:43 am
Ed from B Ridge says:
Remember, Staten Island also gave us the fabulous Vito Fossella.
May 8, 2015, 4:09 pm

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