Andrew Gounardes Declares Victory Over GOP Vito Bruno After Surge Of Absentee & Mail-In Ballots
By Sydney Pereira
After trailing behind his Republican opponent by more than 6,000 votes on Election Day, State Senator Andrew Gounardes declared victory against Republican Vito Bruno, following days of ballot counting.
Absentee and mail-in ballots helped Gounardes surge past his opponent. As of Wednesday evening, the incumbent led by about 2,500 votes, with 1,800 or so to count, according to his campaign.
“It is the honor of my life to serve my community, and today as the remaining votes are counted, I am enormously grateful to the neighborhoods of southern Brooklyn for reelecting me to represent them in the State Senate,” Gounardes said in a statement. “I will go back to Albany and continue to fight for our community while always remembering the values we share together: to help our neighbors in need and do what is right no matter what.”
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins congratulated Gounardes, calling him a “strong advocate for his constituents and their priorities.”
Bruno’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Two years ago in a stunning win, Gounardes beat longtime Republican State Senator Marty Golden by just 1,271 votes. A Senate Democrats spokesperson said Gounardes’s “margin will be greater than it was 2 years ago and he got more votes [in the district] than President-elect Biden.”
After Election Day, Republicans declaring a sweeping success after Election Day, citing discontent with Democrats for pushing criminal justice measures perceived as dangerous and soft on crime. Bruno, a former nightlife entrepreneur who ran a Lower Manhattan club AM/PM, campaigned against criminal justice reform measures like bail reform and pushed pro-police messaging critical of protesters.
Throughout the campaign, Gounardes was among a group of state senators targeted with millions of dollars in attack ads funded by billionaire Ron Lauder to topple Democrats in swing districts and boost Republican support.
The ad campaign, funded by Lauder’s Safer Together New York, blamed lawmakers, including Gounardes, for rising crime after bail reform passed in the state legislature. Advertisements associated a Bay Ridge man shot to death while walking his dog with changes in police funding that shifted school safety agents from the NYPD, capped overtime for officers, and cancelled two police academy classes. A video ad claimed that state bail reform ended cash bail altogether, which is untrue.
“People do not feel safe in this city anymore,” Bruno said on John Catsimatidis's talk show days before the election. “It’s unsafe. People are miserable. They’re unhappy. I will stand up, get rid of that bail reform, I will stand up to Mr. de Blasio. This is what we need. We need public safety. Safety, security, and sanity.”
Local political observers noted the tough-on-crime distortion of bail reform to demonize Gounardes was apparent in mailers and phone polls.
Bruno “ran a really negative campaign but in a way that distorted Andrew’s record on key issues” like bail reform, said a Bay Ridge resident and Democratic political operative, Rachel Brody. "Just really inflammatory stuff."
Despite Bruno’s campaign messaging, as the Brooklyn Paper noted, Bruno had told the NY Times he bribed police officers to stave off scrutiny from the cops at an after-hours club, and in an interview for Bob Woodword’s 1984 book “Wired,” said he would give drugs to his friends. (Bruno denied giving drugs to friends to the newspaper.)
Though certified election results aren't in yet, here's a map of the unofficial election results in the 22nd Senate District.