By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
"How it passed muster with the Department of Justice is beyond me," says Gentile, now a City Council member. "They created a district that was 72 percent Caucasian."
Having successfully rejiggered the lines, Bruno began pumping huge amounts of money into the race. Gentile recalls being astonished that Golden began TV advertising in the district in May that year. Vastly outspent, the Democrats didn't get their own ads up until October. All told, the Republicans spent an estimated $6 million to win the seat. On election eve in 2002, Golden—naturally—celebrated victory at Bay Ridge Manor. The way local papers reported it, Golden chortled about his huge margins of victory in the district's new eastern precincts.
That was the senator's last contested election. Brooklyn Democratic party leader Vito Lopez says there's a simple reason for this default: "No one has stepped up to run," he insists. Other Democratic pols dispute that, saying that one local activist who expressed interest in running two years ago was dissuaded by Lopez and other Democrats who are said to be happy with the status quo. Lopez denies it, saying he has a long-term strategy for picking off Republicans in the borough. Golden's number just hasn't come up yet, he says.
Whatever the reasons for his political free ride, Golden has prospered mightily. He quickly became a favorite with Mayor Bloomberg, who has held fundraisers for him. With a hefty $650,000 in his campaign war chest, Golden has even flirted with the notion of running for mayor in 2009.
He's also done well personally. Last year, Golden and his family purchased a 20-unit apartment building next-door to Bay Ridge Manor for $2.75 million. A couple of months earlier, he and his wife bought a new home a few blocks away off Narrows Avenue for $1.5 million. Clearly, Brooklyn's biggest Republican star has found a district that caters to his needs.