Bail reform, ‘Sopranos’ star Edie Falco front and center in Gounardes raceOctober 30, 2020
The controversy over bail reform has emerged as the core issue in the most contested race for a state Senate seat in New York City.
Billionaire Ron Lauder’s Super PAC “Safe Together” unloads on first-term Brooklyn Democratic state Sen. Andrew Gounardes in a radio ad released Thursday for his support of a law eliminating cash bail and not condemning violent protests.
Gounardes faces a tough challenge from Republican Vito Bruno in the more conservative sections of southern Brooklyn anchored by Bay Ridge.
The 22nd District was represented by Republican Marty Golden for two decades before Gounardes toppled the ex-cop during the 2018 blue wave election. It’s considered a purple district.
“Anti-cop protesters leave trail of destruction in downtown Brooklyn. Maybe you saw that headline in The New York Post,” the narrator says in the radio spot.
“What you didn’t see is leadership from liberal Brooklyn Sen. Andrew Gounardes. ‘Burn the Precinct down in every city, every town.’ That’s what the mob chanted. What did Gounardes do? Go on his Twitter for that night. You won’t find a word about it. Not a word from Gounardes to defend the NYPD. ”
The narrator goes on to say that police report 9,000 new crimes “after Gounardes voted to end cash bail.”
“If you care about defeating crime and defending the police, State Senator Andrew Gounardes is not on your side,” the ad says.
Meanwhile, Gounardes has enlisted “Sopranos” star Edie Falco in TV ads trashing Bruno, saying he has glorified drug use in his nightclubs.
“Drugs have ravaged our neighborhoods. It’s no joking matter,” the actress said in the 30-second TV spot paid for the by state Senate Democratic Campaign Committee.
“Vito Bruno has bragged to reporters that he supplied drugs to customers in his night club. I can’t imagine what kind of person would brag about that.
“He can be a character in a television series perhaps, but the state Senate, not so much,” Falco said.
In response to the Lauder ad, the Gounardes campaign said the senator condemns “all forms of violence and supports our first responders” and focused instead of rival Bruno. He does not specifically address his support for bail reform.
“Our ad highlights the incredible hypocrisy of this desperate campaign, pushing this ridiculous message while putting forward an unqualified candidate with a history of violent nightclubs filled with violence and illegal drugs,” said Gounardes campaign spokesman Mike Favilla.
“They can spend $1.5 million or 10 million against us, nothing will change that the Senator has always condemned all forms of violence and supports our first responders. Frankly, we thought billionaires had better things to do than combing through the Senator’s twitter feed to boost hypocritical, dog-whistle campaigns.”
Gounardes, who chairs the civil service committee that oversees legislation covering pensions and other issues for government workers, has the support of most labor unions.
Lauder’s group is spending roughly $4 million to aid Republicans in eight Senate races — including the Gourades-Bruno contest, three competitive races on Long Island and four upstate.
He claims the Democratic majority, which won majority control of the Senate in 2018, has swung too far to the left on criminal justice issues, particularly by eliminating cash bail for many crimes. Democrats argued that cash bail discriminated against poor defendants who were detained simply because they couldn’t afford to pay to get released pending trial.
Democrats now control 40 Senate seats to 20 for Republicans, with three seats vacant.
Democrats would secure a veto-proof majority if they win two more seats, which Lauder is seeking to prevent.
Meanwhile Bruno disputed the Falco attack ad released by the Gounardes camp.
“Andrew Gounardes’ entire campaign against me is built upon lies because he knows his record of voting for bail reform and with Bill deBlasio 100% of the time is bad for South Brooklyn,” Bruno said in a statement to The Post.
” I never sold drugs to anyone nor have I ever been involved with organized crime – the commercial is insulting to Italian Americans and highlights stereotypes so many of us have fought to overcome. Gounardes used one line in a book about my friendship with John Belushi forty years ago and distorted it to make me and the young people who frequented New York Clubs into criminals, when instead he should be telling voters why he voted for bail reform and why he is allowing the state to cut funding to Special Needs community and small business owners. “
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