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Koo outraises Stavisky in race for state Senate seat

Despite being outraised and outspent during the last six months, state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) has nearly twice as much money on hand as Flushing businessman Peter Koo, who is mounting a potential challenge to her incumbency in this November's election, state campaign finance records show.

Stavisky's fund-raising and expenditures report for the last six months show the nine-year incumbent has $214,828.01 on hand to wage a campaign against Koo, who if certified to the ballot will be the first major Republican challenger to face the incumbent since she took office in 1999.

Stavisky raised $79,050 during the last six months, much of it the result of a July 11 fund-raiser, but only spent just over $22,000 during the same time period.

Campaign finance records show Koo got an exceptional start on fund-raising since announcing his candidacy in February, raising $227,108 during the last six months. The records show Koo also spent about half of that total, leaving him with $114,239.76 on hand as of July 15.

Forest Hills businessman Robert Schwartz, who is listed as a Democratic challenger to Stavisky, did not submit a contributions report.

Stavisky's state Senate district covers Flushing, Whitestone, Beechhurst, Bay Terrace, Pomonok and parts of Elmhurst, Rego Park, Fresh Meadows, Oakland Gardens and Steinway.

In an interview with TimesLedger Monday, Stavisky said her campaign was going well and spoke readily about the Democrats' future in the state Senate, a future she sees herself a part of.

State Democrats are seeking to gain control of the state Senate for the first time in decades, and with the party launching major bids to unseat longstanding GOP mainstays such as state Sens. Frank Padavan (R-Bellrose) and Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale).

Stavisky said the time is now.

"I think the chances have never been better. It's as though the stars have all aligned and things are all headed in the right direction," Stavisky said. "We have a climate in Albany that makes it very difficult to get things accomplished. We've got to try and overcome that culture of dysfunction. Democratic bills rarely see the light of day in the Senate and that's something that needs to change."

Koo, meanwhile, assailed Stavisky for receiving much of her campaign funding from "special interests." Of Stavisky's $79,050 raised since Jan. 15, $63,650 came from Schedule C contributions, such as political action committees and unions.

"I call upon Toby Stavisky to join me in agreeing not to accept any money from lobbyists or PACs, so we can reclaim the government of New York for the people of New York," Koo said.

A second call to the Stavisky campaign to respond to Koo's statements was not returned by press time.

Stavisky has cruised to victory during each of the last four elections and Republican officials are hoping that Koo's prominent presence in a state Senate district that has a large Asian population will play to his advantage this November.

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

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