Cuomo Steering Clear of Staten Island Congressional Race

Councilman Vincent Gentile and District Attorney Daniel Donovan debate in Staten Island. (Screenshot: NY1)
Councilman Vincent Gentile and District Attorney Daniel Donovan debate in Staten Island. (Screenshot: NY1)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today he won’t make an endorsement in the special election for a congressional seat representing Staten Island and part of Brooklyn—despite taking sides in the district in the past.

“You know, I normally leave local races to the localities,” Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, said today when asked about the race between Republican Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan and Democratic City Council Vincent Gentile, after he spoke at an Association for a Better New York breakfast.

Despite his comment, Mr. Cuomo has often gotten involved in “local races”—in fact just last year he endorsed former Councilman Domenic Recchia, a Democrat, when he ran for the very same seat. Mr. Recchia was trounced in the November election by Congressman Michael Grimm, who went on to resign his seat after pleading guilty to felony tax evasion charges. Mr. Cuomo has endorsed candidates in other congressional races as well.

Mr. Cuomo’s decision not to weigh in and support a member of his own party comes as national Democrats have also stayed away from the congressional race, with the party not sending money Mr. Gentile’s way.

“With just ten days to go until the election, we are laser-focused on meeting voters and getting Vinnie Gentile’s message out there,” Justin Brannan, Mr. Gentile’s spokesman, said. “People know Vinnie will hit the ground running on day one by pushing back against Republican gridlock politics in support of pragmatic policies that will benefit working families, raise the minimum wage, safeguard seniors, cut taxes for those who need it most, and grow our economy. The respected elected officials of this district who share these same goals have offered their endorsement, and we are proud to have their support on the May 5th.”

Mr. Donovan, meanwhile, told reporters today he’d had a long-standing working relationship with Mr. Cuomo.

“I’ve worked hand-in-hand with the governor, both as the attorney general and as the governor, so that’s a personal choice that the governor has made,” Mr. Donovan said. “But I’ve had a relationship with the governor since he’s been attorney general.”

Mr. Donovan himself ran to replace Mr. Cuomo as attorney general when Mr. Cuomo ran for governor—but lost to Democrat Eric Schneiderman.

Mr. Cuomo is relatively popular in the right-leaning congressional district, winning Staten Island even as Mr. Recchia, a fellow Democrat, lost in November.

Will Bredderman contributed reporting.  Cuomo Steering Clear of Staten Island Congressional Race