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Koo opens Flushing Senate campaign HQ

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Starside Drugs owner Peter Koo officially opened his campaign office in Flushing Monday night as he prepared to attempt to unseat the decades-long state Senate incumbency of the Stavisky family.

Koo, a community activist and philanthropist, told a throng of Republican supporters that his entrepreneurial background made him cut his teeth in Flushing and will give him the edge over nine-year incumbent Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone).

"The average New Yorker, they get cynical of the government because they feel they aren't doing anything," Koo said. "I will be the difference because I am the average New Yorker."

In February, Koo received the unanimous endorsement of the Queens Republican Party, which views Koo as the first candidate with a competitive chance to defeat Stavisky.

Stavisky has held the seat since 1999 and was elected after her husband, Leonard Stavisky, who had occupied the post since 1966, died in office.

Sources close to the Koo campaign said while they see ousting Stavisky, a popular Democrat, as an uphill battle, they hope he will be able to draw on Flushing's large Asian vote to sway the balance in his favor.

While Koo acknowledged that he believes Asian Americans need more representation in state government, he said that is not the only reason he is a candidate.

"Let me say that I am not running solely as an Asian American. I am running for all Americans," he said.

Sources also said Koo's success as a entrepreneur will also be a boost to his campaign financially. Because he announced his candidacy in February, Koo does not have to disclose any contributions to his campaign until July.

According to campaign finance records, Stavisky had nearly $80,000 on hand as of January.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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