Brooklyn DA surprise: Ken Thompson may end Hynes’ 23-year run

The race for the Democratic Party nomination in the Brooklyn district attorney race took a surprise turn Tuesday night when precinct numbers began to show 23-year-incumbent Charles J. Hynes lagging behind his rival, former federal prosecutor Kenneth Thompson, by up to 10 percent.

At Thompson’s election night headquarters in Clinton Hill on September 10, the celebratory mood was heightened by a palpable air of surprise.

“Who would have thought this young man would start his political career with such a decisive victory?” said Pastor A. R. Bernard of Brooklyn’s Christian Cultural Center. “Change is the only constant. There is nothing you can do to stop that.”

“I can’t believe my son did it [because] I thought Hynes has been there so long,” that it might not change, exclaimed Thompson’s mother, Clara, who was one of the first policewomen in the NYPD to go on patrol, starting in 1973.

“I am so proud and happy for him. I didn’t even realize that I’d inspired him [to pursue public service and a legal career],” she said. “I just thought that he wanted to be a lawyer.”

But inspire him she did, as Thompson made clear in his victory speech, during which he thanked volunteers, elected officials, his pastor, his family and especially his mother for all their support.

Thompson also thanked Hynes for his years of service, adding that “we will have a DA’s office where there will be a fundamental fairness and equality of justice for all.

“We will end senseless gun violence, make sure people in Brooklyn are not stopped and frisked based on the color of their skin, avoid wrongful convictions, prosecute political corruption wherever it exists, and make sure victims of sexual abuse. . . will [see] changes with this DA,” he added.

The mood was decidedly more somber at Hynes’ election night gathering in Brooklyn Heights.

“The Democratic voters of the county today decided that there should be a change in this office and this direction,” said a visibly-shaken Hynes.

Hynes, 78, is pursuing a seventh term as Brooklyn district attorney. Over the past two decades, he has worked to increase the lines of communication and trust between communities and the court system, by opening neighborhood offices, holding essay contests with schools, and creating neighborhood Youth Courts in Red Hook, Greenpoint, and Brownsville. He has also fought recidivism and juvenile crime through an array of programs that he piloted.

In recent years, however, Hynes has been faced with concerns about wrongful convictions within the Brooklyn D.A.’s office and allegations that he did not adequately pursue allegations of sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community.

It’s not over till it’s over.

While Ken Thompson’s supporters were clearly savoring the primary success of their candidate, who defeated incumbent Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes in the Democratic primary on September 10, Thompson’s victory will not be complete until November 5, when voters take to the polls again to choose between him, and the Republican and Conservative Party candidate—Charles J. Hynes.

Hynes will indeed be listed on the lines under both of those parties, but according to campaign spokesperson George Arzt, “he will not be [actively] campaigning” over the next two months.

Nonetheless, according to Jerry Kassar, chair of the Kings County Conservative Party, the party will actively work on Hynes’ behalf ahead of the general election on November 5.

“I believe the Republicans will, too,” he said. “We believe there’s a real constituency out there in the general election that wants to see him remain [as Brooklyn DA].”

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