Surrounded by dozens of placard-waving supporters from a cross-section of Brooklyn’s population, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes announced Tuesday on the steps of the county’s Borough Hall his intention to challenge the man who defeated him in the Democratic primary, this time from the Republican and Conservative party lines.
Hynes’s re-election launch weeks after conceding the race to Democrat Kenneth Thompson was delayed for several minutes as a small but noisy group of longtime Hynes foes heckled him. Their shouts of “Joe must go!” were then drowned out by “Let’s go Joe!” by Hynes’s supporters — including state Sen. Martin Golden, a Flatbush Republican seen as key to getting the DA to remain in the race.
“I don’t mind dissent … you can yell all you want,” Hynes pleaded, “but at least be decent enough to listen to what I have to say.”
“You’ve already demonstrated you’re opposed to the democratic process,” Hynes said at another point.
Finally getting to his speech, Hynes repeated the assertions he made several times since his primary loss, that he was angered that Thompson was denying the involvement of Clarence Norman, a former Brooklyn Democratic Party boss whom Hynes successfully prosecuted in 2005. He accused Norman of trying to get even by running Thompson’s ground operation and convincing several African American leaders to get behind his candidacy.
“Now that Norman has acknowledged that he ran Thompson’s field operation on primary day, it defies credulity that Thompson continues to deny that Norman had anything to do with the campaign,” Hynes said.
Thompson has denied that Norman had anything to do with the campaign. But published reports cited four different black leaders who said they were personally contacted by Norman.
In the days since Hynes declared his candidacy, Thompson rolled out endorsements from Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio and Sen. Chuck Schumer, and tried to attach blame to Hynes for the current federal shutdown in Washington.
“He has run year after year for 24 years as a Democrat. He lost fairly in a Democratic primary and now he’s going to turn and run as a Republican and a Conservative,” Thompson said on Monday. “The same party that shut down the government, the same party that’s been trying to destroy the president of the United States of America. The people of Brooklyn deserve better. We deserve him to keep his word.”
Hynes lost his seventh re-election to Thompson in a poorly attended Sept. 10 Democratic primary. He said that despite a post-primary agreement to drop out, a deluge of calls from supporters and a successful fundraiser last week convinced him he should get back into the general election.
More than 50 community leaders from across Brooklyn raised $150,000 for a Hynes rerun at the Greenhouse Café in Bay Ridge, and convinced him that he could win with Republican votes as well as Democrats who stayed home for the primary.
“Recently, I’ve been assured that enough funding will be available to permit me to wage a credible and successful campaign for re-election,” he said. “Now that such a campaign is realistic, I believe I owe it to the greater number of voters of Kings County to give them an opportunity to choose who their district attorney will be, rather than … ceding the election to someone who is simply unqualified to run this office.”
Hynes would face long odds of winning as a Republican in a borough that has become much more hospitable to Democrats in recent years.
But the prospects become less daunting considering the power of his 23-year incumbency, along with media reports on some of Thompson’s expected hires as he prepared to transition into the DA’s office in January.
Thompson’s margin of victory was 55 to 44 percent, winning by 18,000 votes. A higher turnout in the general election, Hynes was told, would wipe out that margin.