Dishing with Dee: Before primary, 2 groups hold Meet the Candidates nights

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The big political event this week in northeast Queens was the Bay Terrace Alliance Meet the Candidates night at the Bay Terrace Jewish Center Aug. 31. The Meet the Candidates night has always been one of my favorites. They always manage to produce an organized and all-inclusive evening featuring all the local candidates. The only elected officials they had as part of their program were U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman and state Sen. Toby Stavisky. All the others tossing their hats in the ring were hopefuls.

There were some interesting sidebars connected with the candidates’ night. For one, East Meadow resident Patricia Maher, who managed to secure the required amount of valid signatures to be on the ballot, is giving Gary a Democratic primary. In all my years of covering local politics, I don’t ever remember that happening. Ackerman, based on some burdensome hyper-technicalities, managed to get her thrown off the ballot through a lower court decision.

Maher appealed the lower court decision to the State Supreme Court Appellate Division. The Appellate Division unanimously, in a 5-0 vote, overturned the lower court’s decision and placed Maher on the ballot. Ackerman also has two Republican opponents: Dr. James Milano and attorney Liz Berney.

Stavisky has three challengers, all of whom are Democrats. They are attorney John Messer and retirees Isaac Sasson and Bob Schwartz. On Thursday, an Albany Times Union poll revealed Stavisky had 47 percent, Messer 40 percent and Sasson 13 percent. It looks as though the race is between Stavisky and Messer.

With only one week left until Primary Day, it does not seem there is enough time for Sasson to play catch-up. The spread is too great a difference to make up in a week. Schwartz was not included in the poll because, while a lifelong Democrat, he is only running on the Conservative line and therefore is not part of the primary. He will run in the general election against whichever Democrat wins the primary.

For the open state Assembly seat in the 26th District, you have one Republican, Vinny Tabone, and Democrats Ed Braunstein, Steve Behar, John Duane and Elio Forcina.

Elio, by the way, was a no-show. According to the grapevine, he may have listened to some bad advice, which obviously came from someone who had their own agenda.

This election cycle comes across as if it were run by P.T. Barnum. Part of the circus includes lots of donkeys and elephants. The question is will the real ringmasters please stand up and be counted?

Behar sounded like he had a good handle on the issues. Braunstein in his opening remarks sounded a bit too laid back, but in his closing speech he managed to sound great. He happens to be a nice, decent young man. His competitors have tried to label him as part of the dysfunctional Albany problem. He handled the situation by saying that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver never consulted him or asked for his opinion on any of the issues.

Braunstein formerly worked in constituent services for Silver. It was his job and Braunstein did what he was told. If elected, he said he will be his own man and serve the needs and interests of his constituents, which may or may not be the same interests as Silver’s. He believed he should be judged on his own merit.

Last Thursday night, the Queens Village Republican Club held its Meet the Candidates night, which was comprised of Milano vs. Ackerman, Samuel Benoit running for Sen. Malcolm Smith’s seat and Tim Furey running against Assemblyman David Weprin for his seat. To me, the highlight of the evening was the introduction of Eric Golub, a Republican stand-up political comedian. His blog, the “Tygrrr Express,” won the 2007 Bloggers Choice Award for Most Passionate Fan Base. He is in possession of one of the most acerbic political wits I have heard in a long time. He is also an author and had a book signing at the meeting. I bought two of his books: “Ideological Bigotry” and “Ideological Violence.” They are great reads, if you enjoy politics.

On Sunday, I attended two fund-raisers. One was sponsored by the Young Democrats in Astoria and had among its attendees Kathleen Rice, who is running for state attorney general. The other fund-raiser was for Braunstein in Douglaston. The large backyard of host Joe Mc Dermot was bursting at the seams with supporters.

That’s it for this week.

I like receiving your voice mails at 718-767-6484, faxes at 718-746-0066 and e-mails at

Till next week, Dee.

Updated 6:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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