Gounardes, Bruno Race for Senate Seat Goes Down to the Wire

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With early voting begun and election day one week away, incumbent State Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach, Marine Park) and his Republican opponent Vito Bruno, are locked in a tight race, according to a source that says both GOP and Democratic polling showing the race to be up for grabs.

Gounardes barely beat long term incumbent Republican and former Senator Marty Golden with a margin of 1,271 votes in a blue wave of voting two years ago.

State Senator Andrew Gounardes
State Senator Andrew Gounardes
Vito Bruno
Senate candidate Vito Bruno

However, this race comes during a presidential election year where parts of the district –  particularly in the orthodox Jewish community of Marine Park, but also parts of the rest of the district support President Donald Trump – which means they could vote GOP down-ballot as well.

The race has certainly caught the attention of the State Democratic Senate majority, which reportedly has poured more than $500,000 into the race, the second-most statewide, according to Newsday.

The Long Island media outlet reports that since July this includes direct transfers to Gounardes campaign as well as paying for polls, mailings and ads. This may include several negative mailings that portray Bruno as being involved in criminal activity dating back from his days in the 1980s as a successful nightclub owner. Meanwhile Ronald Lauder has spent “nearly $1.3 million” on negative ads against several Democrats, including Gounardes, reported City and State. Bruno’s office said they’ve received “a few hundred thousand as independent expenditures or indirect, no contact contributions likely from Lauder.

In total, Gounardes has a strong fundraising edge. According to the State Board of Elections, Gounardes still has a healthy $393,932.05 in his campaign coffers to Bruno’s $24,541.83.  

On the other side, KCP, along with the Bay Ridge-based blog, Queen of the Click, has reported stories of Gounardes taking campaign contributions from real estate developers with interests in the district including from the developer of the controversial Angel Guardian development in Dyker Heights.

Bruno’s supporters have portrayed Gounardes as supporting extreme left positions including bail reform and efforts to defund the police, while not fighting hard enough for property tax reforms. 

The district doesn’t like extremely left or extremely right candidates, but tends to be genuinely bipartisan and moderate, which may hurt Gounardes chances at winning again, said Bruno’s office. He attributed a lot of Gounardes’ freshman success to the lack of early voting and weather conditions in 2018. 

But Gounardes countered that his record in the senate has been impeccable in supporting issues that affect the district.

“As we enter the final week, I will continue to run on my record and values of fighting on behalf of first responders and working people, recovering safely from the pandemic, investing in our schools and transit, improving traffic safety, working to make it more affordable for renters and homeowners in our communities and bringing people together to solve challenging problems,” said Gounardes. 

“We have had and continue to have thousands of conversations with southern Brooklynites by phone, text and in person, and we will continue to sprint through the finish line,” he added.