Dems give senate race to Stavisky

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Riding the backing of fellow Democrats, state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) and assembly candidate Barry Grodenchik won their party’s nomination Tuesday in two of the borough’s most closely watched races.

In the senate race, Stavisky earned 60.42 percent of the vote, and her challenger, Julia Harrison, had 39.58 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results reported by NY1 News.

Grodenchik edged out well-financed businessman Jimmy Meng, earning 36.85 percent of the vote to Meng’s 33.35 percent. Democratic district leader Ethel Chen finished with 22.05 percent of the vote, and political newcomer John Albert attracted 7.75 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.

“We are very happy,” Grodenchik said of the results. “It was a hard-fought campaign. It was a campaign that was fought on the issues ... and I want to thank my opponents for keeping it that way.”

Stavisky will face Conservative Mark Ralin in November’s general election. Grodenchik will come up against Republican Meilin Tan and Green Party candidate Evergreen Chou.

Meng, however, still has the option of running on the Independent line in November’s general election, Chen could run on the Liberal line and Albert on the Working Families line.

For Stavisky, the primary marks a victory over her political rival of many years, Harrison.

Stavisky took the 16th State Senate seat in a 1999 election after the death of her husband, Leonard Stavisky left the slot vacant.

In the redistricting process, Stavisky was pitted against another incumbent, state Sen. Daniel Hevesi (D-Forest Hills). The new, oddly shaped district covers sections of Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Jamaica Estates, Oakland Gardens, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Rego Park, Astoria and LaGuardia Airport.

Hevesi opted to drop out of the race in April, leaving the Democratic nomination for Stavisky.

But Harrison, Flushing’s longtime councilwoman until she was forced to step down last year because of term limits, said she decided to take on Stavisky because she wanted to present voters with an option.

Grodenchik’s victory in the primary for the new 22nd Assembly seat, centered on downtown Flushing and created as part of redistricting, comes after a political disappointment almost a year ago.

Last September, Grodenchik lost the Democratic primary race to current City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) despite the backing of his party.

Grodenchik, a political aide to both Queens Borough Presidents Claire Shulman and Helen Marshall, opted to make a bid for the Flushing assembly seat in May.

The Queens Democratic Party’s decision to back Grodenchik came after the organization considered supporting political newcomer Paul Belliveau. But just days before the party’s annual meeting, a press conference in support of Belliveau was canceled and he pulled out of the running.

Chen has said the Democratic Party considered backing her, but chose Grodenchik instead because she would not drop her political ties to Harrison.

The 22nd Assembly District was drawn up by the state Legislature to have a majority Asian population. The district is 53.5 percent Asian, 20.1 percent white, 18.7 percent Hispanic and 4.5 percent black.

At the Benjamin Rosenthal Senior Center poll on Kissena Boulevard, a site which serves voters for both the 16th State Senate and 22nd Assembly District, voters complained of complications from redistricting.

“I’ve been voting here for the last 10 years and they’re telling me to go to a different district,” said Mindora Laurino, a Flushing resident who was told she was at the wrong polling site.

Several people at Rosenthal Tuesday morning said they thought the site was less crowded compared to years in the past.

Although three voting machines broke down for about half an hour, voters at Rosenthal were given emergency ballots to use during that time period.

“No vote was lost,” assured Ryan Walsh, a site coordinator for the Board of Elections.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

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