Antonio Brindisi: ‘I served less than 50 days as the federal prosecutor before I took off and ran for Congress’

“As a prosecutor, I made very difficult decisions; I had to make some tough calls in difficult cases,” Brindisi says. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) Now, the former Obama administration official running for Congress in New…

Antonio Brindisi: ‘I served less than 50 days as the federal prosecutor before I took off and ran for Congress’

“As a prosecutor, I made very difficult decisions; I had to make some tough calls in difficult cases,” Brindisi says. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Now, the former Obama administration official running for Congress in New York’s Hudson Valley says he is a “trailblazer”—but he only served for 25 days as a prosecutor before his political career began.

Antonio Brindisi, a Democrat who in 2016 was appointed by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo to take over a prosecutor’s office at the federal level in Albany, is running for the open 21st District seat in New York’s Hudson Valley, challenging Republican Claudia Tenney, who won over 30 percent of the vote in 2016.

Tenney has won her past two runs by double-digit margins, but Brindisi has raised an impressive $9.3 million and, along with a few Democratic challengers, is hoping to wrest the seat from Republican control.

Brindisi was appointed by Cuomo in April 2016 to become the first prosecutor in the country to also serve as the district attorney in the same county, representing six counties and 493,000 residents.

As a prosecutor, Brindisi made some very difficult decisions, he tells members of the Christian Science Monitor. “I had to make some tough calls in difficult cases. I had to, you know, make some very difficult decisions in cases involving teenage boys that were failing their parole requirements, that were having difficulty in school, that were having a difficulty finding a job, that were having a difficulty getting their health care. So you know, I had to make some decisions, and I had to be committed to making sure that justice was done,” he says.

But Brindisi stresses he left that job too soon, to start his first campaign. “I served less than 50 days as the federal prosecutor before I took off and ran for Congress,” he tells CSM. “So it just wasn’t something that I really thought was the right thing to do. I’ve served eight years in the administration and the state, and I was working through that to try to try to get that confirmation and trying to get ready for that job.”

Brindisi describes himself as “the progressive alternative” in New York’s westernmost district, where he would “drain the swamp,” a term he used in a tweet on Friday. In a district that President Donald Trump won by 18 points in 2016, Brindisi says he stands out as a candidate who will support Medicare for all, a state-wide push for higher taxes on the rich, eliminating police abuse and immigration policies that “support labor,” pay raises for teachers and teachers’ aides, and a more powerful public safety system. “I’m running as someone who wants to address the real problems that are facing everyday folks,” he says.

Brindisi says he has no intention of apologizing for his record as a prosecutor, which was criticized by a judge who criticized his treatment of a defendant on a revenge-porn website. “You know, when you’re running for office and people look at your entire record, they can judge you for anything,” he says. “You know, you can be a successful prosecutor, but if you do that and then you do all of the things that I was doing with those same constituents that you gave the opportunity and then you ask them to vote for you, they have every right to have an opinion.”

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