There were few primary election upsets in our coverage area, but that’s to be expected in New York City democracy.
That said, Bay Ridge’s Democratic District Leader race was a shocker, as a 24-year-old newcomer ousted beloved state committeeman Ralph Perfetto.
Here’s all the news that’s fit to print on a tight, caffeine-aided deadline (all results are accurate as of midnight on Tuesday):
Congress — GOP
Michael Grimm, 73 percent
Michael Allegretti, 27 percent
13th District, Bay Ridge
The war for the hearts and minds of Republicans in Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst — and for the right to take on popular freshman Rep. Mike McMahon (D–Bay Ridge) in November — resulted in a victory for the more conservative Michael Grimm, a former Marine, FBI agent and Desert Storm vet.
Grimm ran an under-the-radar screen campaign, ducking public appearances, but enjoying the support of big name GOP leaders including former Mayor Giuliani, Sarah Palin and Sen. John McCain.
Allegretti, the small businessman-turned-environmentalist, never seemed to find the right tone in taking on the strident Grimm, first veering towards a moderate Republican voice, but then coming out against the so-called Ground Zero mosque and proclaiming his fealty to Rep. John Boehner, the controversial GOP leader in the House.
Allegretti’s loss hurts the Bay Ridge side of the district, as the Kings County GOP supported him in his loss.
In a show of how seriously the Democrats are taking the coming general election, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put out a statement saying that “Michael Grimm can’t be trusted.”
“Conflicting stories about his record and his past have come to define Grimm’s campaign and voters deserve answers if he hopes to gain their trust, let alone their vote,” said the statement, attributed to spokesman Shripal Shah. “It’s time for Michael Grimm to come clean.”
But Grimm fired back: “The victory proves that the public knows that I’m battle-tested, but I’m willing to bring the district back to conservative values that it’s always had. I’m looking forward to debate Michael McMahon and tie him to the liberal agenda.”
Congress — Democrats
Rep. Ed Towns, 66 percent
Kevin Powell, 33 percent
Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Downtown
Towns easily defeated his rival, Kevin Powell, who has constantly talked about a youthquake in the district, even as he has never generated traction among voters.
Towns, who has been in Congress for almost three decades, thinks he knows why.
“I see my victory as a vindication, and that the voters want me to go back to Washington and work hard on health care to strengthen it,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working very hard.”
Towns is currently the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Powell, the former “Real World” star turned author and public speaker, ran into trouble during the campaign when it was revealed that he owes more than $600,000 in back taxes.
“He may have won tonight, but he did not win the hearts of Brooklyn people,” Powell claimed, vowing to return to challenge Powell in 2012.
State Senate -— Democrats
Velmanette Montgomery, 11,115
Mark Pollard, 2,485
Fort Greene, Park Slope and Red Hook
Incumbent Velmanette Montgomery won in a landslide over newcomer Mark Pollard, yet another weak challenger to a senator who has been in Albany since 1986.
Some said Pollard was a fresh face, but Montgomery won big, in part due to her support for the federal Superfund clean-up of the Gowanus Canal, the fetid waterway that now has a federal budget, and her longtime opposition to the Atlantic Yards mega-development.
Assembly — Democrats
Joan Millman, 3,504
Doug Biviano, 1,147
DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope
Incumbent Assemblywoman Joan Millman held her seat over challenger Doug Biviano by a long shot.
By press time — and with about half of the districts responding — Millman held a 3-1 lead, effectively ending a long squabble between she and Biviano over her “double dipping” by taking her public school teacher’s pension, her alleged lack of leadership on MTA cuts, and her role in overall Albany dysfunction.
“It feels good, but we’re still working,” Millman said from the election war room on First Place and Court Street in Cobble Hill. “Already I have bills in the works, and I’ll be tying up loose ends until January.”
One of those loose ends, she said, is a bill that would funnel federal stimulus money toward the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s operating expenses — mostly because the city could soon charge straphangers “more for using transit less.”
The statement flies in the face of Biviano, who recently lambasted the incumbent for posing for a photo op against transit budget cuts, right after she voted to reduce the agency’s funding.
That said, Biviano was unreachable for the entirety of election night.
For now, the MTA bill and Millman’s support for housing inside Brooklyn Bridge Park — which would help fund its expensive maintenance budget but turn the “park” into the backyard of a development — will prove to be her most challenging immediate projects.
Joe Lentol, 2,218 (73 percent)
Andre Soleil, 805 (26 percent)
Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Fort Greene
North Brooklyn voters rewarded assemblyman Joe Lentol with another term after easily dispatching two-time challenger Andre Soleil.
Soleil, an attorney and a Williamsburg resident, ran a negative campaign that criticized Lentol for contributing to Albany’s incessant gridlock and not addressing the needs of the southern part of his district.
But the goodwill for Lentol built up over three generations particularly among Hasidic voters in South Williamsburg, Italian sections of Williamsburg, and Polish neighborhoods in Greenpoint remained immense.
And his record passing the first meaningful reforms for mandatory drug sentencing in two decades while distributing a bevy of funds to constituent groups throughout the district only enforced that benevolence — which translated to support at the voting both.
Chris Owens, 2,154
Jesse Strauss, 1,361
Stephen Williamson, 771
Jo Anne Simon, 2,645
Hope Reichbach, 1,657
52nd Assembly District
DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope
In the male district leader race, Chris Owens owns Downtown.
The wild three-way race to succeed retiring state committeeman Alan Fleischman ended in a big victory by the political veteran who received redemption after a failed bid for Congress in four years ago.
Voters in Prospect Heights and Park Slope carried Owens to victory on Tuesday night, in addition to steady support he received in Brooklyn Heights, according to unofficial poll results.
“We won because we had a winning strategy, we understood the district, we understood where our base was in a low turnout election, and we knew how to expand our base,” said Owens. “People wanted change and they wanted somebody with substance they didn’t want more political games and we made that clear.
Owens’s victory is a significant hold for brownstone Brooklyn reform groups, which risked losing the seat to a candidate backed by the county’s chairman.
During the race, Owens campaigned against Williamson, who was endorsed by Democratic party chairman Vito Lopez, as the machine-backed candidate, and against Strauss, who had been endorsed by Assemblywoman Joan Millman (D-Boerum Hill), as the Albany-backed candidate.
Owens, son of former congressmen Major Owens, has already pledged to cast his vote against Lopez in his bid for party chairman later this month.
On the distaff side of this district, Simon fended off a furious challenge from political upstart Hope Reichbach.
“This is a reform district this is an independent district that cares about accountability, transparency and the rule of law and this is a district that said we want to choose our leadership,’ said Simon at her campaign headquarters at Independent Neighborhood Democrats. “It’s as simple as that.”
Simon drew her strength from Park Slope, Boerum Hill, and Boerum Heights, as well as several polling sites in Carroll Gardens — the heart of Brownstone Brooklyn.
Both women have been clashing for months. Simon has accused Reichbach of being a party stooge who will vote in lockstep with the party’s chairman, Vito Lopez, and Reichbach has lambasted Simon’s “sense of entitlement” for the seat and dismissed her reform credentials, claiming she is the true progressive in the race.
Voters in Brownstone Brooklyn responded strongly to Simon’s message of experience and reform, choosing to back the woman who has served as the district’s state committeewoman since 2004.
But Reichbach’s polling of 37 percent was a strong showing for the first-time candidate whose family, including her father, judge Gus Reichbach, remains well-respected in Downtown, and even Simon conceded that Reichbach has a bright future in politics.
Reichbach, for her part, vowed to carry on.
“You know, I’m 22 and I got more votes than I thought I would need,” said Reichbach. “I’m not upset right now. I’m going out with my friends right now on Smith Street and I don’t have to wear a suit. I’m happy with that.”
Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Fort Greene
Both the male and female district leader races - which pit insurgents against reliable party insiders — were simply too close to call at press time. Check www.brooklynpaper.com for an update.
Kevin Peter Carroll, 60 percent
Ralph Perfetto, 40 percent
60th Assembly District, Bay Ridge
This one was one for the ages, not the aged.
Youngster Kevin Peter Carroll, a 24-year-old political newcomer, turned his leadership of an insurgent Democratic club into a victory over one of the best-liked and best-known state committeeman in the borough, Ralph Perfetto.
“I’m so happy and proud and ecstatic,” Carroll said after his victory, which he attributed to the fact that he “talked about the issues.”
Among them, his contention that Perfetto and other power brokers have allowed the neighborhood to be sliced into five Assembly districts, watering down local power.
“It’s not a victory for me, but for redistricting reform in Bay Ridge,” Carroll said.
For his part, Perfetto praised Carroll’s “beat the bushes” campaign.
“He put his people out there, he worked and he got it,” the 18-year incumbent said. “He used some negative stuff, maybe that had some influence.”
Perfetto was possibly referring to a Carroll campaign mailer featuring Perfetto and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver cutting up a cake into five Assembly districts, a reference to Carroll’s contention that redistricting has hurt Bay Ridge.
What also hurt Perfetto, who had the backing of virtually all of the area’s elected officials, was a charge that he impersonated a lawyer in a 2008 court appearance, an allegation the former boxer has called “preposterous” and “politically motivated.”
Nonetheless, he was scheduled to go on trial in October, and faces up to a year in jail if convicted.
— with Thomas Tracy and Helen Klein
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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