Oh oh! District Attorney Charles Hynes has thrown down the gauntlet. No matter what else you can call it, New York politics is never boring.
Just as swiftly as Hynes assured Brooklyn and fellow Democrat presumed D.A.-elect Ken Thompson that he would do all that he could to ensure a smooth transition into the office, he announced officially on Tuesday that he is getting back in into the race he conceded a month ago and will in fact run as a Republican. Brooklynites, being the no-holds-barred characters they tend to be, had a few choice words about the stunning move, most of which can not be published here.
“Hynes must go! Hynes must go!” yelled a handful of protestors as he made his official announcement at Jay Street Borough Hall on Tuesday.
“It’s sad that Mr. Hynes refuses to accept the will of the people, as he repeatedly pledged to do last month after he lost the election by a wide margin,” said James Freedland, a spokesman for the Thompson campaign. “We look forward to a clear contrast between Democrat Ken Thompson and the failed record of Republican Joe Hynes, who has lied to the public so that he can run with Joe Lhota and the tea party forces in the Republican Party who have shut down the government. And we are confident all of Brooklyn’s voters will render the same overwhelming verdict as they did in the primary.”
“How is Hynes a Democrat for nearly 30 years, then he sees this Black man about to win his seat, and suddenly he says he is running as a Republican and gets back into a race four weeks after he left it?” These were the words of a politicking street corner grandfather on Nostrand Avenue and Fulton Street this past Saturday afternoon.
Now, former prosecutor and current attorney Thompson finds himself smack-dab in the middle of another race against the 78-year-old, six-term D.A. Hynes. On Sept. 10, Thompson scored a shocking and historic upset victory in the Democratic primary when he trounced 24-year incumbent Hynes in the race for Brooklyn district attorney. Thompson defeated Hynes 55 percent to 44 percent. It was a sound beating, and Thompson became the first African-American and the first candidate to unseat an incumbent Brooklyn district attorney in over 100 years.
On primary night as he conceded, a humbled Hynes said from the podium, “I’ve just spoken to Ken Thompson. I wished him great success. I told him I would work with him on an orderly and a good transition.”
To the incredulous gasps of many, four weeks later, Hynes is now back in the fray, pinning a long-shot hope on a Republican and conservative line run. He has declared that he based his decision to re-enter the race on his belief that Thompson got campaign help from Clarence Norman Jr., the former Brooklyn Democratic Party head who Hynes sent to prison for allegedly selling judgeships and misappropriating funds.
Hynes opined, “I don’t think the people of Brooklyn want a D.A. who is beholden to a corrupt, machine boss ex-con.”
Thompson said Hynes’ accusation was nothing short of a lie and a “complete desperation move” that Hynes is “using that to justify his decision to turn his back on the people of Brooklyn. He promised that he was gonna have a smooth transition. That’s what we should have. That’s what the people of Brooklyn deserve.”
Thompson insisted that Norman “was not at my campaign office at all. Norman is not a friend. He played absolutely no role in my campaign.”
Meanwhile, activist Omowale Clay said that there is an even more sinister reason why Hynes is trying to hedge his bets in the D.A. race.
“He has to testify in that big case where witnesses are saying that his office and [former] Detective Louis Scarcella were holding witnesses hostage and coercing statements. There are 40 cases that may be overturned because of this. He was the D.A., and while he was able to get it postponed until after the general election, he is going to have to testify. This is all to try and affect that.”
The Thompson campaign has long called for an investigation into claims of misconduct against Hynes’ office.
Meanwhile, on Monday of this week, U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer endorsed Thompson for Brooklyn district attorney.
“There is a clear choice to move Brooklyn’s criminal justice forward, and that choice is Ken Thompson,” said Schumer. “I’ve worked with Ken firsthand in urging the Justice Department to reopen the case of Emmett Till, who was abducted, brutally beaten and murdered in Mississippi in 1955. And I can tell you that Ken’s commitment to justice, unquestioned integrity and experience protecting the public is exactly what we need from our borough’s top law enforcement officer. I am proud to endorse Ken Thompson because he knows what it takes to keep our communities safe and will deliver the change that Brooklyn so desperately needs.”
“I’m so proud to be endorsed by Chuck Schumer, our state’s senior senator, an outstanding leader and someone who has never backed down from a tough fight on behalf of the people of Brooklyn,” said Thompson. “In every corner of this borough, voters are looking for the same thing—someone who will move Brooklyn forward and restore integrity to our broken criminal justice system. I am honored to have Sen. Schumer’s support and look forward to working with him to make our streets safe from crime and ensure all New Yorkers have a champion standing up for them.”
Just prior to Schumer’s nod, a slew of folk threw their support behind Thompson, such as mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, the Brooklyn Democratic Party, New York City Comptroller nominee Scott Stringer, Borough President Marty Markowitz, Councilwoman and Public Advocate candidate Letitia James, Assemblymembers Walter Mosley, Joe Lentol and Karim Camara, Council Members Diana Reyna and Darlene Mealy, Committee Chair Frank Seddio and many others.
Give him a mic and Thompson will proudly announce a varied array of support, including the Working Families Party, all four members of the Brooklyn congressional delegation—Reps. Yvette Clarke, Hakeem Jeffries, Nydia Velazquez and Jerrold Nadler—Councilman Brad Lander, former candidate Abe George, 1199/SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Citizens Union, Communications Workers of America, District 1, National Latino Officers Association, New York State Supreme Court Officers Association and the Amsterdam News.