In one of the state’s most critical election races, City Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D−Howard Beach) helped catapult Democrats to the majority in the state Senate, ending State Sen. Serphin Maltese’s (R−Glendale) 19−year Senate career by defeating the Republican incumbent 57 percent to 43 percent, according to preliminary results reported by NY1.?”The councilman is humbled and elated,” said his campaign spokeswoman, Alexis Grenell, in a telephone interview from the councilman’s election party at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach..
Maltese said he called Addabbo to concede the race about an hour after the polls closed at 9 p.m. He attributed Addabbo’s sizable victory to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s popularity at the top of the ballot.
“I think it was the Obama glamour,” Maltese said in a phone interview from his campaign headquarters on Myrtle Avenue in Middle Village. “He certainly was a charismatic figure.”
Maltese, who was first elected in 1988, ran on his experience, citing the 239 bills he sponsored that became law during his 21−year tenure, while Addabbo campaigned on the idea that the Senate needed an infusion of new leadership. He is the former chairman of the Queens Republican Party.
The senator noted the millions of dollars in funding and member items he brought to the district — which covers Glendale, Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and Howard Beach — while Addabbo contended the district and the city as a whole was not receiving its fair share of education dollars.
Addabbo made the economy and working−class residents the centerpiece of his campaign, criticizing the state for doling out tax breaks to large corporations while not doing enough to help small businesses and urging for an increase in the minimum wage.
Public safety was another issue Addabbo cited as he called for parents to receive text messages when sex offenders move into their neighborhoods and tougher gun laws.
While touting his experience, Maltese maintained Addabbo could not bring in the same amount of funding to the district as he has because the councilman would not have as much seniority in the Senate.
Maltese was endorsed by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, while Addabbo had U.S. Sens. Hillary Clinton (D−N.Y.) and Charles Schumer (D−N.Y.) and Gov. David Paterson in his corner.
In the final days of the campaign, both candidates hauled out some of their high−profile supporters to the district.
Maltese appeared Friday with Bloomberg during a Halloween show in Ridgewood and Addabbo held a campaign rally Sunday with state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
Automated telephone calls to voters were also made on behalf of the candidates. Bloomberg made calls for Maltese and former President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Paterson recorded calls for Addabbo.
Both candidates made a final push for votes Tuesday, making appearances across the district.
A Siena College poll released Sunday showed the race in a statistical dead heat, with Addabbo leading Maltese 45 percent to 43 percent with 12 percent undecided. The councilman’s lead was within the poll’s 4.9 percent margin of error.
©2008 Community News Group
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