District Attorney Candidate Compares Himself to Robert Kennedy, Chris Christie

Former Congressman Michael McMahon. (Screengrab: NY1)

Former Congressman Michael McMahon. (Screengrab: NY1)

Defending his lack of experience as a prosecutor, Michael McMahon, the Democratic candidate for Staten Island district attorney, said last night he’s just like Robert F. Kennedy and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

“I started my own law firm. I managed a firm. I did budgets, I did budgets in the Council and Congress,” Mr. McMahon, a former city councilman and congressman, told NY1’s Errol Louis. “Robert Kennedy never was a prosecutor and he became U.S. attorney general. Chris Christie–I’m going both sides of the aisle–never saw, tried a case and he became a U.S. attorney general.” (Mr. Christie was a U.S. attorney from New Jersey, not the U.S. attorney general.)

Mr. McMahon was reacting to his Republican rival, Joan Illuzi, who knocked him never having prosecuted any cases. Though Ms. Illuzi is a political neophyte, and therefore the underdog in the race, her courtroom resume far outweighs Mr. McMahon’s: she recently left her post as an assistant district attorney in the Manhattan office, where she had served for 27 years.

“Mr. McMahon who I like and respect has never one day represented the people of the State of New York in a courtroom,” she recently told NY1. “He has no orientation nor experience to understand what it takes to investigate and to prosecute crime without fear or favor.”

In addition to comparing himself to Mr. Christie, a Republican who became U.S. attorney because of his connections to the Bush administration, and Kennedy, a Democrat who rose to power when his brother became president, Mr. McMahon also likened himself to the man he is hoping to replace: Republican Congressman Daniel Donovan, the former Staten Island DA.

Mr. Donovan, as Mr. McMahon noted, won his first election in 2003 when he was still the deputy Staten Island borough president, a political position far removed from the courtroom. His opponent, Democrat David Lehr, a longtime chief assistant district attorney, accused Mr. Donovan of lacking experience as a prosecutor.

“There’s always the campaign of ‘I’m the prosecutor, not the politician,'” Mr. McMahon argued. “When Dan Donovan first ran, he had not been in a courtroom for a very long time–in fact his law license had expired.”

“In the race, the campaign slogan was ‘politician Dan Donovan’ against ‘prosecutor David Lehr’ and the people in that case chose Dan Donovan,” he added.