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SW Queens GOP loses seats amid Democratic wave

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Republicans all over the country suffered major setbacks in last week’s general election, but the losses were keenly felt in southwest Queens, where a two−decade state senator, a new city councilman and an industrious state Assembly challenger were all defeated by a substantial margin by Democratic foes.

Sen. Serphin Maltese (R−Glendale) lost to Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D−Howard Beach) 57 percent to 43 percent, Councilman Anthony Como (R−Middle Village) was bested by challenger Elizabeth Crowley 56 percent to 44 percent and Maspeth Republican florist Anthony Nunziato failed to unseat incumbent Assemblywoman Marge Markey (D−Sunnyside), who won 68 percent to 32 percent, according to NY1.

From a statistical standpoint, the outcome is not surprising. Markey’s district had 32,514 registered Democrats and 10,223 registered Republicans, while Maltese had 78,495 Democrats to 30,751 Republicans in his Senate district, according to state Election Board records from Nov. 1.

Enrollment numbers were not immediately available from the city Elections Board for Como’s 30th Council District, but several elected officials have said the ratio is roughly 2−to−1 in favor of the Democrats.

But this area of Queens, which includes Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village and Ridgewood, has traditionally voted conservative, keeping Maltese in office for 19 years and Republicans in the City Council seat since 1991.

Both Maltese and Como attributed their defeats to Democratic party loyalty in the wake of President−elect U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s (D−Ill.) historic campaign.

“At the end of the day, it was just not a good day to be a Republican,” Como said Nov. 4. “People just went in and voted straight down party lines. We had the charts on the wall. You could just tell by the numbers.”

But Crowley’s spokesman, James Wu, contended her success in the district was due to more than just Democratic party loyalty.

“Clearly her appeal spans both parties,” he said. “In these Republican−strong areas, she did better than anyone else on the Democratic ticket.”

Maltese and Como also had more to deal with than Obama and the unpopularity of President George W. Bush. Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D−South Ozone Park) was accused of accepting bribes in return for tapping his political influence in Albany.

Seminerio, a Democrat, was well−liked by Republicans for his conservative leanings and a close friend of Maltese. Como, a former Maltese aide, won his spot on the Council in a special election after fellow Republican Dennis Gallagher pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a woman in his office in 2007 and resigned from the Council.

Robert Holden, president of the influential Juniper Park Civic Association in Middle Village, believes voters in the district were at least partly turned off by the Republican incumbents’ connections to previous political scandals.

“I don’t think [Como] tried to distance himself from Dennis Gallagher enough,” Holden said, recalling the club’s two−year feud with the deposed councilman and noting Como retained several of Gallagher’s old staff members. “That’s what he had to do.”

Holden was less certain about how thoroughly Maltese had been hurt by his connection to Seminerio.

“It certainly didn’t help,” he said.

Others disagreed that the local scandals had any substantial effect on the elections in the area.

“Things are really no different [in Queens] than in other places where Republicans are hampered by an extremely unpopular president who’s like an anchor around their necks,” said Democratic political consultant Evan Stavisky, whose employer, the Parkside Group, helped Crowley in her unsuccessful bid for the Council seat in June’s special election.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

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