3:48 pm Nov. 9, 2011
Before Senator Chuck Schumer endorsed and made robocalls on behalf of the Democratic candidate for Staten Island district attorney in yesterday's election, the senator sent a message to the Republican incumbent, according to former congressman Guy Molinari.
The message Schumer tried to convey, through a phone call to Donovan's campaign office from a Schumer staffer, was that "it was a mistake and he wasn't supposed to do it, and they put all kinds of pressure on him" to support the Democrat, Molinari said. "Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit."
The incumbent district attorney, Dan Donovan, handily re-election to a third term, trouncing the Democratic challenger, Michael Ryan, with approximately 70 percent of the vote.
After it was published, Schumer's spokesman, Mike Morey, emailed the following statement: “This story is a complete fabrication and publishing it is irresponsible. No conversation like the one alleged to have happened in this story ever occurred.”
A source close to the Donovan campaign said the call came from an aide in Schumer's New York office and was received by a high-ranking member of Donovan's campaign, and that the Schumer aide conveyed the senator's wishes that he and the Republican D.A. continue their working relationship after Election Day.
When I asked Molinari about Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, who issued a press release supporting Ryan, he said, "I think it was dumb on his part too," and, "I guess he doesn't know Staten Island the way he father did. I don't think his father would have done this."
By contrast, Molinari praised the Democratic City Council speaker Christine Quinn, who is expected to run for mayor in 2013, for staying out of the race. Quinn has a close working relationship with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who strongly backed Donovan's campaign to become state attorney general last year.
"Christine Quinn is the only politically bright one in the crowd," Molinari said "She said no, she's a friend of Dan Donovan, didn't want to get involved. She gained a lot of points from those of us involved. She did the right thing."
He also said, "I don't know if Republicans will have a mayoral candidate. If we don't have one, we might be looking at supporting one of the Democrats and this becomes very important."
He added, "Who knows, we may be supporting her in the future. Christine Quinn didn't hurt herself at all by what she did."
A spokesperson for Quinn told me that her non-support for Ryan was due to a communications mix-up, and that she would have have been happy to support him. The Quinn spokesperson also noted that she campaigned for Democrat Eric Schneiderman against Donovan in the state attorney general's race last year.
Other prospective Democratic mayoral candidates, like City Comptroller John Liu and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former city comptroller Bill Thompson, endorsed the Democrat in the race.
Explaining why he was so indignant that Democrats had seen fit to endorse the Democratic candidate, Molinari said, essentially, that an election for district attorney was no place for ordinary partisan politics.
"You have to differentiate a district-attorney race from a Congress race or anything else," he said. "It's quasi-judicial."
CORRECTION: This article has been changed to reflect that, according to multiple sources, it was a Schumer staffer who placed the call to Donovan's campaign, not Schumer himself, and that Schumer did not appear in person with Ryan.