Brooklyn District Attorney Charles “Joe” Hynes and GOP mayoral hopeful Joe Lhota collided at a Russian rally in Brighton Beach yesterday, where they were both hoping to knit together a coalition of right-leaning immigrant voters.
As a sitting district attorney, Mr. Hynes is not allowed to endorse candidates. But Mr. Lhota offered praise for Mr. Hynes at the peculiar boardwalk rally, which included a singer belting out an off-key rendition of “New York, New York.” Mr. Lhota’s praise, according to a source close to the campaign, did not constitute an official endorsement.
“We need to make sure Joe Hynes stays as the district attorney of Kings County. It is so important–it is so, so important we also make sure that we continue to have reduced crime in the City of New York, that we have policies in place so that we become a greater place to live and to work and to raise our families,” Mr. Lhota said just outside the Russian Tatiana Restaurant. “Believe me, vote on the Republican line or vote on the Conservative line. Please vote for Joe Hynes and, while you’re at it, vote for me too.”
“First time we see you!” a Russian-American woman shouted from the crowd.
“First time? I hang out at Tatiana’s all the time. You missed me there,” Mr. Lhota replied.
Supporters of Mr. Hynes, donning red shirts with phrases like “integrity,” appeared on the boardwalk before Mr. Lhota, chanting, “Let’s go Joe!” (for Mr. Hynes), “Four more years” and “More four years”–their command of English mixed. The Hynes event was planned with ex-Congressman Bob Turner, who briefly represented the neighborhood after winning Anthony Weiner’s old congressional seat.
Mr. Lhota’s team later emerged and the two candidates combined their respective rallies, but they did not plan to appear together. Mr. Lhota’s campaign told Politicker that Gregory Davidzon, a Russian media mogul and City Council candidate, had organized the rally and invited Mr. Lhota. But the Hynes campaign claimed, “Lhota stopped by our rally.” Neither campaign listed the other on their Sunday public schedules.
While Mr. Lhota is a registered Republican, Mr. Hynes is a Democrat seeking re-election on the Republican and Conservative Party lines after losing the Democratic primary. (Mr. Davidzon, a self-professed power broker in the Russian-speaking enclaves of south Brooklyn, is not registered with a party and is waging a write-in campaign.)
For each candidate, Russian-American voters could be crucial. Both are waging underdog campaigns that depend on turning out right-leaning voters in areas like Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach and Brighton Beach.
“Not just for our community for the entire city, the most important issues are security, new jobs and education,” said Boris Pincus, a Republican district leader, as Russian pop music floated from Mr. Davidzon’s speakers. “They are the best candidates who can help us to be safe on the streets.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Davidzon asserted that there would be dire consequences for the borough if Mr. Hynes and Mr. Lhota lost.
“We really cannot afford to lose this race,” said Mr. Davidzon, referring to Mr. Hynes in particular. “I don’t know, we have to pray, but we have to win this race.”
And, keeping in line with their recent musical efforts, the Hynes campaign also released a new video to mark the occasion: