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Stavisky rebuffs Koo to retain her Senate seat

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D−Whitestone) rode a nationwide wave of Democratic momentum Tuesday night, cruising to an easy victory over Republican challenger Peter Koo.

With 97 percent of the precincts reporting, Stavisky had amassed more than 47,000 votes, good for more than 68 percent of the vote, according to the state Board of Elections. Koo, whose campaign had hoped to galvanize the Asian−American community with his candidacy gathered just over 21,000 votes, or just over 31 percent, the BOE said.

Both Koo and Stavisky made the economy a focus of their campaigns.

“I did well everywhere, in all districts. I’m very excited with this resounding victory. I’m grateful to all my constituents for their support. This was really a victory for the people,” Stavisky said in an interview Tuesday night. “I’ll be in Albany tomorrow.”

During her campaign Stavisky stressed the need for public investment in projects that would create jobs for New Yorkers, such as the redevelopment of Willets Point. While she said cutting back on unnecessary programs would be key to overcoming the economic crisis facing the state, Stavisky also said bolstering funding for city and state colleges was important for New York’s future.

Koo, meanwhile, also said state officials would need to analyze the budget line by line and eliminate unnecessary spending. He said drastically cutting back on Medicare costs by enforcing anti−fraud laws could save the state millions, but stressed that major cuts to education, law enforcement and health care would not serve the state well.

During the campaign, Koo outspent Stavisky by more than 2−1, spending about $300,000 on his campaign since he announced himself as a candidate in February, according to campaign finance records.

Records show Koo lent his campaign $50,000 in the days leading up to the election, a portion of which he used to purchase advertising space on Chinese television station SinoVision.

Stavisky was far more frugal, according to campaign finance records, spending just over $137,000 in her bid to defend her incumbency. In the month leading up to the election, Stavisky spent just $13,000, nearly all of which was shelled out to Global Strategy Group to conduct polls within the district.

Stavisky has held the seat since winning a special election in 1999 following the death of her husband, Leonard Stavisky, who had served as state senator for the district for more than 20 years.

The 16th Senate District snakes from Bayside and Whitestone through Flushing, Forest Hills and Fresh Meadows, stretching as far west as Rego Park and east into portions of Oakland Gardens.

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

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