Padavan outpacing Avella in money race

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State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) has raised more money than his Democratic challenger, former City Councilman Tony Avella, in the race to retain his seat this fall, according to state campaign finance records.

Padavan, who was first elected to the Senate in 1972, is facing off against Avella, a 2009 mayoral candidate who was elected to the Council in 2001, in a hotly contested race that could prove to be one of the fall’s most acrimonious.

The senator has brought in more than $104,000 in contributions and has spent $81,000 on his re-election bid, state campaign finance records show.

Avella has raised more than $83,000 in the race and has spent $38,000 on his campaign.

Padavan narrowly defeated Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) in the Nov. 4, 2008, election after a prolonged recount. But Avella’s former district overlaps with that of the senator, giving him more name recognition in the northeast Queens communities he is vying to represent.

Padavan and Avella butted heads when the senator called on the Queens district attorney’s office to file charges against the officers of the College Point Sports Association in 2001 after five contractors were indicted for illegally dumping debris on the group’s ballfields.

The senator had attempted to pin the blame for the closing of the ballfields on Avella, who was president of the association at the time the dumping occurred in 1997. The Queens DA did not act on Padavan’s request.

Relations have been notably cool between the two.

The other northeast Queens Senate race that promises fireworks is the four-way battle for the 16th District seat held by Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) since 1999.

The first Queens woman to become a state senator and the first female head of the Higher Education Committee, Stavisky has had a lock on the seat for a decade.

Her campaign had $128,558 at the beginning of the six-month campaign disclosure period, according to state campaign finance records, and raised an additional $134,260. Her campaign spent $10,931, leaving her with $251,887.

But Isaac Sasson, a retired engineer-cum lottery winner and philanthropist, has promised that he will spend however much of his Lotto millions it takes to secure the Democratic nomination. He has not raised any funds so far for this election, but has spent $146,693, leaving his campaign coffer that amount in the red, according to state campaign finance records.

The other challenger in the 16th Senate District Democratic primary is John Messer, a lawyer who recently became involved in politics.

He has raised $172,907 and spent $115,295, leaving him with $57,612, according to state campaign finance records.

Whoever wins the Democratic seat will likely face off against Republican Robert Schwartz, a dairy executive who ran for the Stavisky’s office in 2008.

He has raised $1,300 for his campaign and spent $1,136, leaving him with $164, state campaign finance records show.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 6:24 pm, October 10, 2011
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