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Brooklyn DA Hynes to Run as Republican and Conservative After Primary Loss

By Murray Weiss | October 3, 2013 1:51pm | Updated on October 3, 2013 2:19pm
 Brooklyn D.A. Charles J. Hynes.
Brooklyn D.A. Charles J. Hynes.
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DNAinfo/Paul DeBenedetto

NEW YORK CITY — It ain’t over till it’s over.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hyneswho conceded the Democratic primary to former federal prosecutor Kenneth Thompson — surprised observers by re-launching his campaign on the Republican and Conservative lines, officials said.

Prompted by an outpouring of grassroots support and an infusion of cash, the 24-year veteran DA decided to toss his hat back into the ring after being feted at the Green Café in Bay Ridge by business owners, community leaders, local pols and Brooklynites.

Since his solid primary defeat last month to Kenneth Thompson (55-45 percent), an African-American whose mother was a city cop, Hynes said he would accept “change” and help in the transition.

But in recent weeks, Hynes was pressured by residents, numerous elected officials and several Brooklyn powerbrokers to continue to campaign, sources said.

Sources close to Hynes, who catapulted to national fame prosecuting a gang of Howard Beach whites in a racially motivated murder in 1986, said he remained reluctant to run despite the urgings of supporters.

But Wednesday night’s showing of both $150,000 in new campaign funds and the political support convinced him to take the plunge.

He was also motivated, sources say, by reports that Thompson’s campaign was helped by Clarence Norman, the one-time Democratic Party boss who Hynes helped convict for corruption. Thompson has vehemently denied Norman's involvement.

“There were emails from people in the street, meetings with people, and the monetary support that encouraged him to continue his campaign,” said a source close to Hynes.

Thompson's campaign spokesman, James Freedland, said that Hynes' run flew in the face of his concession.

"It’s sad that Mr. Hynes refuses to accept the will of the people, as he repeatedly pledged to do last month," he said. "We look forward to a clear contrast between Democrat Ken Thompson and Republican Joe Hynes."

Political observers say Hynes — even on two political lines — continues to face an uphill battle in a borough where in recent memory only Democrats have won countywide positions.

"We are confident all of Brooklyn's voters will render the same overwhelming verdict as they did in the primary," Freedland said.

While a federal prosecutor, Thompson was part of the team that convicted Justin Volpe in the brutal assault on Haitian immigrant Abner Louima.  He recently was counsel to the Manhattan chambermaid who claimed Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the then head of the International Monetary Fund, raped her.

Hynes, who also served as the city's Fire Commissioner, is considered an innovative district attorney whose programs, including one that instituted alternatives to incarceration, have become national models.

But his long record has also led to sharp criticism of his handling of sexual abuse cases in the Hasidic community and whether several inmates were wrongly prosecuted and jailed thanks to a rogue NYPD detective.