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Establishment support powered Braunstein win

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Edward Braunstein won last week’s Democratic primary because he had broad support from voters across his northeast Queens district as well as the backing of the party’s county organization, political insiders said.

Braunstein, a former aide to state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and a member of Community Board 11, fended off opponents John Duane, a former assemblyman in the district, as well as attorneys Steve Behar and Elio Forcina in the Sept. 14 primary.

He will now face off against Republican Vince Tabone in the Nov. 2 general election. The seat is open after Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside) announced earlier this year that she would not seek another term.

Borough Democrats and political analysts said the Queens Democratic Party’s support for Braunstein helped the 29-year Bayside resident to win the primary.

“I think Braunstein won because he had the most support out there,” said Jerry Iannece, who ran last year for Tony Avella’s Council seat and is the chairman of CB 11. “He had the county organization, the unions and the elected officials. The writing was on the wall. With low turnout, you’d expect that to happen. He’s an articulate, young and intelligent guy who is ambitious and understands what an Assembly member is supposed to do.”

Duane, who placed second in the race, threw his support behind Braunstein on primary night as the election results poured in.

Evan Stavisky, who works for the Parkside Group and helped run Braunstein’s campaign, said the win proved that the borough Democratic Party could still draw voters to the polls.

“In a primary, voters look for cues,” he said. “In a general election, the road map is provided by party affiliation. As a Democrat, you support certain values and, as a Republican, you support certain values. Above all else, Ed had the support of the Queens County Democratic Party. He had some very good endorsements. I think people saw an aggressive, hard-working young man who will be able to accomplish great things for the community.”

Michael Krasner, a political science professor at Queens College and co-director of the Taft Institute, said the primary’s results provided further proof that incumbents and candidates backed by the county parties were difficult to defeat.

“The general point is that, at that level, party organizations still matter,” he said. “The Queens party is still out there and they can still deliver votes. In a primary situation with low turnout, county designation is really important. Anyone challenging the county will have an uphill battle.”

The district covers Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, College Point and Whitestone.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 6:30 pm, October 10, 2011
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