Taking a line from the Republican playbook, Dan Donovan's campaign for Congress is invoking the image of Al Sharpton to raise campaign cash, but his Democratic opponent and the reverend himself are firing back. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
In August, Al Sharpton and the National Action Network took to the streets of Staten Island, protesting the death of Eric Garner. Now, the district attorney there, through his campaign for Congress, claims Sharpton is out to get him.
The subject line of a fundraising email blasted out Thursday night reads ominously,"Al Sharpton is coming after Dan, we need your help!"
The candidate's campaign manager goes on to cite a report claiming Sharpton's group is working "under the radar...to hurt Dan's campaign." The campaign then asks for donations of up to $1,000.
"I think this is a cynical attempt by the campaign to raise money," Sharpton said.
"To bring the campaign down to the level of race-baiting is just despicable," said Donovan's Democratic opponent, Vincent Gentile.
Both Sharpton and Gentile, ripped the DA's campaign on Friday, arguing that the email was race-baiting.
"Dan Donovan owes the people of New York, and the people, particularly, of Staten Island, an apology for race-baiting," Gentile said.
"To try and play on the intelligence of their voters that are right-wingers that may disagree with me or others is beneath the dignity of a DA or a congressman," Sharpton said.
The DA injecting Sharpton into the race could capitalize on the unfavorable opinions many Staten Island voters have of the controversial reverend.
A spokeswoman for the district attorney said he was not available to go on camera to discuss Sharpton and Gentile's comments. Donovan's campaign spokeswoman did send over a statement, saying, "We don't take lessons from Al Sharpton, but it seems like Vincent Gentile is all too happy to have him in his corner."
NY1 double-checked that theory.
Gross: Do you want Sharpton's support?
Gentile: That really isn't, that really isn't a factor here.
"I have no interest in the race," Sharpton said.
In fact, Sharpton never even mentioned Gentile by name.