Huntley, Clark face Dem challengers in primary

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Next week’s Democratic primary will be pitting two of southeast Queens’ veteran members of the state Legislature against two challengers hoping to make their mark on the borough’s political scene.

State Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) and state Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village) have been campaigning over the summer to remain in their offices for another term. Both Lynn Nunes, who is taking on Huntley, and Clyde Vanel, who is challenging Clark, have been using the same time to get their names out to voters around southeast Queens.

The 10th Senate District, which includes Jamaica, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and parts of Forest Hills, since 2007. Huntley, who previously worked as the president of Community School Board 28, has focused a lot of her efforts in Albany on improving the schools in her district and helping residents with the foreclosure crisis.

She has received a lot of criticism from gay rights groups over her no vote on gay marriage last year. Many of those groups, such as the Human Rights Campaign and the Empire State Pride Agenda, and gay rights activists, including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), have given their backing to Nunes, a 25-year-old small businessman from South Ozone Park.

Huntley has the backing of the Democratic party and many of her state colleagues have rallied to her side during the campaign.

Nunes has been taking a low-key approach to his campaign using his reputation from his run against City Councilman Thomas White last year as his main fighting point. The challenger came six votes shy of knocking out White in last year’s Democratic primary, a feat that Nunes said shows voters want a change in the status quo.

He has been making several door to door visits to promote his agenda that includes improving small business.

Campaign finance records show that she and her challenger have spent a lot to make their cases to the voters.

Huntley raised $137,248 and spent more than $104,028 for her re-election bid, campaign finance records show. The largest donations she received were two $9,500 contributions from Senate Majority Conference Leader John Sampson (D-Brooklyn) and state Democrats, according to the records.

Nunes has raised more than $175,607 and spent a little more than $49,562 on his campaign, according to campaign finance records. The majority of the challenger’s contributions came from individual donors with the largest contribution coming from a $10,000 donation from himself, campaign finance records show.

Although Clark and Vanel have not been as visible in their campaigns, both have been raising a lot of money for their races for the 33rd Assembly District seat, which includes the neighborhoods of Queens Village and Cambria Heights and parts of Bellerose.

Clark, who has been in the Assembly for more than 20 years, has raised $8,235 and spent a little more than $10,549, campaign finance records show. Most of the assemblywo­man’s donations have come from individual donations and all are under $1,000, according to campaign finance records.

Vanel, an attorney who has a private office that specializes in business law, has raised a little over $3,721 for his election bid, according to the city Campaign Finance Board. Although the board does not list how much he has spent on his campaign, it indicated that his largest donor is his sister, Jessica, who gave $626.03, campaign finance records show.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Updated 6:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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