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Ex-GOP senator declines Avella rematch to stump for Halloran

State Sen. Toby Stavisky is set to announce she will be running for re-election in the district centered around Flushing.
TimesLedger Newspapers

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) has two less challengers after Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) decided to run in another district and former Sen. Frank Padavan opted not to relive a heated previous campaign for his old seat.

“I’m going to focus my efforts on getting Dan re-elected,” Padavan said at a recent event, referring to City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), who is running for Congress.

Padavan, a Republican, said that although he was approached by several people to run for the 11th Senate District, which covers a large swath of northeast Queens, including College Point, Whitestone, some of Flushing, Bayside, Fresh Meadows, Hollis Hills and the neighborhoods bordering Nassau County. Padavan held the seat for 38 years before losing to Avella in 2010, and he decided not to jump back into the political arena.

It was widely speculated earlier this year that Padavan would face off against Avella in a general election, and Padavan told TimesLedger Newspapers in February that he was considering the move.

But a source in the Queens Republican Party confirmed Padavan did not want to run. Now the party is in the process of drawing up a shortlist of possible candidates and interviewing them.

It was also uncertain where Stavisky would end up running after the redistricting process, but her office said she would be making an announcement on the steps of Flushing Library, at 41-17 Main St., indicating she would go for the new 16th District.

That district most closely resembles her current seat, but is centered around Flushing, with two arms that extend west into Forest Hills and east along the Long Island Expressway into parts of Bayside. The district is 53 percent Asian, and by running there Stavisky will avoid a primary with Avella.

Her announcement will also put to rest longstanding questions about where she would run.

In late January, the state body in charge of redrawing political districts to accommodate population change make some changes to the 16th Senate District, most notably eliminating Stavisky’s Beechhurst home and drawing it into the domain of Avella.

For months, Stavisky remained mum on where she would run, ultimately waiting until another aspect of the redistricting process was resolved in court.

The Senate Republicans, who drew their own lines for the decennial process, also created an extra seat upstate, bringing the total in New York to 63.

Senate Democrats sued to try and have the lines thrown out for violating the state Constitution, and Stavisky decided to hold back until the conflict was resolved, since Democrats hoped the districts would be redrawn. Earlier this month, a judge ruled in the Republicans’ favor, although Democrats appealed.

As of now Stavisky will face John Messer, an Oakland Gardens lawyer whom she defeated in a Democratic primary in 2010. A Flushing activist named Sunny Hahn has also expressed an interest in running on the Republican ticket.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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