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Political Action: Primaries often prove damaging to Queens Dem candidates

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In the 19th Council District, Kevin Kim entered the Democratic primary against five other candidates, all of whom had more name recognition. When the final vote was spread out over six candidates, however, anything can happen and did.

By raising large amounts of money, building an effective field operation and having the endorsement and active support of U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), Kim prevailed. Ackerman went against the Democratic county organization-endorsed candidate, Jerry Iannece, who came in second, and backed Kim, his staffer.

The primary at times became hotly contested and personal. A significant number of Democratic voters whose candidates lost in the primary did not support Kim in the November general election. The primary results brought a certain amount of disunity to the Democratic ranks, whereas the Republicans who had no primary united behind the victorious campaign of Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone).

In the 20th Council District, Yen Chou won the Democratic primary against five other candidates. In this race, as in the 19th Council District, the candidate endorsed by the county organization lost and in this case came in fifth. That candidate was John Choe, who was the chief of staff to former Councilman John Liu, now the city comptroller. As in the 19th Council District, the Democratic primary winner was defeated by the unified candidacy of Councilman Peter Koo (R-Flushing).

It is interesting to also point out that, as in the 19th Council District, Koo as the victor also had the endorsement of the Conservative and Independence parties. The Democratic candidate, Chou, however, did not have the endorsements of the Working Families or Green parties. That factor cost her 4 percent of her total vote and contributed to her defeat.

In southwest Queens, the third Council seat won by Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Rockaway Beach) did not have a Democratic primary, but earlier in the year there was a special election to fill the seat to replace former Councilman Joseph Addabbo.

There were five candidates, including three Democrats. The race among the three Democrats turned bitter with one candidate, Geraldine Chapey, challenging the petitions of Democrat Frank Galluscio. A court fight resulted with Galluscio being removed from the ballot.

Although the Democratic county organization had not officially endorsed any of the Democrats in this February 2009 special election, Galluscio was considered the front runner because he had been Addabbo’s chief of staff. The final election totals gave Ulrich a decisive victory.

Going back to an earlier period in 1991, an open Council seat in the 19th Council District led to a Democratic primary in which there were nine candidates. After the Democratic primary ended, Republican Mike Abel, who had a primary with one other Republican, went on to win the primary and fall general elections.

Looking at Queens Democratic primary election history, the question arises as to how this could affect the state Assembly race in the 26th Assembly District, represented by Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside), and the 38th Assembly District, represented by Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Glendale).

The state attorney general’s office is investigating charges that Carrozza does not live in the district she represents but in Nassau County. If a negative report is issued confirming she lives outside her district, it could lead to a Democratic primary with other Democrats entering the race against her with the winner facing Republican Vincent Tabone in the fall general election.

In the 38th Assembly District in western Queens, Miller may be facing a Democratic primary as well, to the benefit of the Republican challenger.

Updated 5:52 pm, October 10, 2011
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