Although there is still a lot of track left in the 2017 Bay Ridge Derby to succeed term-limited 43rd District City Councilman Vincent Gentile (Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Dyker Heights), Democrat Justin Brannan and Republican Bob Capano are clearly showing the fortitude, will and political organizational skills that defines frontrunner status.
Brannan, who recently left his job with the de Blasio Administration to concentrate on the upcoming November Primary, announced yesterday he has already pulled in $57,000 from more than 400 donors in just over one month after opening his campaign committee. He also cleared the 75 in-district contributor threshold, making him eligible to receive the max in public funding, which will give him $6 in public money for every $1 dollar he raises within certain guidelines.
“The incredible grassroots support we’ve received shows that the hardworking families from Colonial Road to Cropsey Avenue intend to have a voice in this election,” said Brannan. “As a longtime advocate and activist, it’s exciting for me to see hundreds of fellow residents contribute to this campaign and take an interest in the future of our community. There’s no better way to level the playing field and ensure everyday New Yorkers, not big moneyed interests and PACs, control the political process.”
Brannan, the founder of the Bay Ridge Democrats, has also hired the DUMBO-based high-powered election campaign consultants Red Horse Strategies to help him run his campaign. But Brannan remains very accessible and not one to hide behind campaign consultants.
“I grew up in this community. My wife and I own a small business here. I love my neighborhood and the chance to make a difference as our next Council Member is the reason I’m in this race,” said Brannan.
Meanwhile, other possible Democratic hopefuls in the race such as Assemblyman Peter Abbate, Democratic District leader Kevin Peter Carroll, and Arab-Americans Linda Sarsour and Khader N. El-Yateem have largely been absent in terms of the race.
On the Republican side, Capano is almost frightening with the amount of press releases he puts out, but deserves a lot of credit for weighing in on the issues of the day, including a good many that have direct impact on residents in the district.
For example, Capano recently fired off a press release standing up for local residents after Gov. Cuomo announced his plan for Verrazano Bridge toll reductions for Staten Islanders but not for Brooklynites.
“Many Brooklynites use the Verrazano Bridge on a regular basis to get to work, shop, or visit family and friends,” Capano said. “While a student at St. Patrick’s and Xaverian High School, I still remember my dad complaining about that ‘damn’ toll. Over two decades since then, the only thing that has changed is the ‘damn’ toll is more expensive. Brooklynites deserve the same consideration that people on the other side of the Bridge currently receive in the form of a resident discount. This will make traveling to and through Staten Island more affordable, potentially saving Brooklynites hundreds of dollars a year.”
Capano has also taken a stand against the city’s plan to charge residents a nickel for plastic bags and other issues. Most recently, he assailed Sarsour, one of the national co-chairs of the Jan. 21 Women’s March on Washington as saying that all opponents of the progressive movement were “united around racism.”
“To make a blanket statement that all those who disagree with progressive policies are racist is despicable. Republicans disagree with progressive policies because they have proven to be devistating to our health care system, economy, and job growth. Americans agree with this assessment as demonstrated by Democrats losing an unprecedented number of seats around the country since 2010. Ms. Sarsour must stop viewing this country solely through the prism of race, religion, and gender. We must unite together as Americans,” said Capano.
This is not to say that Capano is a xenophobe or anti-Muslim and was quick to put out a release condemning the recent attack on a Muslim police officer while she was off duty walking with her son in Bay Ridge on 67th Street and Ridge Boulevard.
“New York is a city of immigrants and Brooklyn is no place for hate. We are all Brooklyn Democrats, we are all Brooklyn Republicans in condemning this hate crime,” he said.
Capano’s two perspective opponents, Laim McCabe, who works in Congressman Dan Donovan’s office, and John Quaglione, who is the communications director for Sen. Marty Golden, have thus far been fairly quiet.
That said, both McCabe and Quaglione have shown the ability to raise money within the district, which would make them elegibile for public campaign financing, while it remains to be seen what kind of local financial support Capano will get.