Kim wins primary for Assembly to face GOP’s Gim in Flushing

Ethel Chen (clockwise from top l.), Yen Chou, Phil Gim, Sunny Hahn, Ron Kim, Myungsuk Lee and Martha Flores-Vazquez are running for the downtown Flushing state Assembly seat.
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It was a crowded race for the Flushing Assembly seat to be vacated by state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing), but Ron Kim came out on top in Thursday’s Democratic primary, while Phil Gim defeated his opponent on the Republican side.

With 100 percent of the vote counted, Kim had 27 percent and beat out four others — Yen Chou (23 percent), Ethel Chen (22 percent), Myungsuk Lee (15 percent) and Martha Flores-Vazquez (12 percent) — who were also vying for the seat, which covers downtown Flushing and the residential area north of it. The tally was based on unofficial results from CBS News.

On the Republican roster, Gim had 74 percent of the vote and Sunny Hahn took in 26 percent, based on the CBS News figures.

Kim will face Gim in the Nov. 6 general election.

The street corners near polling sites were packed with campaign signs and supporters throughout the day, mostly from Chen, Chou and Kim, though the Lee campaign plastered several cars with the candidate’s literature before tootling around the district. A few Flores-Vazquez posters were also sprinkled throughout the mix.

Poll workers at several sites said voters were extremely confused by changes in polling locations as a result of redistricting — the process of redrawing political lines to accommodate for growing population.

Karen Wang, a poll worker in downtown Flushing, said referral slips, documents that direct voters to their correct polling location, were flying off of her desk.

“I’ve had to do a lot of these today,” she said.

At about 11:30 a.m., Chen set up shop near PS 244 to approach passers-by and inquire if they had voted. A blustery wind kept knocking down one of her posters, which was quickly repaired by Chen’s son, Lawrence Wu, who was out to help his mother get elected.

Later in the day, Chou was outside of PS 20 doing the same, saying that the election would turn on who could mobilize their bases via door knocking and phone banking.

Chou’s sons were also out in force, and one was even registered as a poll watcher and took a peek inside PS 244 on Franklin Avenue.

Kim addressed a group of senior citizens, a population subset that can be counted on to vote, at a Korean center in the district around the same time while his wife, who is Chinese, translated his remarks.

According to many hopefuls, turnout was light throughout the day, although a more robust showing was predicted after potential voters left work at the end of the day.

Gim and his opponent,Hahn, had an especially hard time since Republicans, who are greatly outnumbered by Democrats in the district.

Gim said his power base was mostly within the walls of the single-family homes in the residential sections north of bustling downtown.

The Republican rivalry was a tame one, according to Gim, much more civil than on the Democratic side.

“I think the fierce fight is with the Democrats,” he said after voting for himself near the corner of 163rd Street and 25th Road. “And the fight is fierce.”

The Democratic primary was marked by a bitter rivalry between the camps of Chou and Chen, which was largely played out in the Chinese language media, since the two seemed to actively avoid coverage in English-language papers.

The two candidates were competing for Chinese votes in Flushing, while Kim and Lee were vying for the Korean vote.

Kim and Lee did not clash as publicly, but the Korean community was disappointed since their vote would be split between two candidates. One prominent member of the community said the competing campaigns set Korean politics back 10 years.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 2:18 am, September 14, 2012
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Reader feedback

Snoop from Bayside says:
The cream does rise to the top.
Sept. 14, 2012, 5:24 am
Linda Walter from Flushing says:
Go Ron Kim!!!!!!
Sept. 14, 2012, 9:28 pm
Carol from Flushing says:
Go make history Ron! My neighbors and I all voted for you and we will do it again in the general election!
Sept. 15, 2012, 6:36 am
Biswas from Flushing says:
I am proud of Ron Kim for conducting a clean campaign.
Sept. 15, 2012, 8:36 am
David from Whitestone says:
This young man came to my home and missed me 5 times. Although I have yet to meet him, he has my vote. Anyone who works this hard deserves to be my representative.
Sept. 18, 2012, 5:30 pm

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