Since Tuesday’s election, much has been made of how the Democratic Party captured numerous seats nationally and in New York State. But there is one race where some Democrats suggest their party missed an opportunity to oust a longtime Republican state senator.
In the 15th State Senate District in Queens, an incumbent Republican senator, Serphin R. Maltese, was re-elected to a 10th term, but by fewer than 800 votes. According to unofficial results, Mr. Maltese received 51.2 percent of the vote on Tuesday, while the Democratic candidate, Albert Baldeo, received 48.8 percent.
The 15th District is in an area of Queens where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by more than 2 to 1. And at a time when Democrats have been making steady gains toward controlling the Republican-led State Senate, some Democratic officials question why the party placed so little attention on the seat held by the 74-year-old Mr. Maltese and provided Mr. Baldeo with little in the way of endorsements of political support.
In an interview yesterday, Mr. Baldeo, 46, a lawyer who ran unsuccessfully for a City Council seat last year, could name only one Democratic official who endorsed him: United States Representative Gregory W. Meeks. Mr. Baldeo said, however, that he was not willing to criticize the Democratic organization in Queens.
“I want to go forward from the past,” he said. “I’m in touch with the Democratic State Senate Committee, and they say they will help in making sure the recount process goes smoothly.” In fact, Mr. Baldeo has also asked for an investigation into complaints his office received about voter intimidation and other irregularities.
The reluctance of Democratic officials to support Mr. Baldeo’s campaign was in part a reflection of the longtime relationship that many Queens Democratic officials have enjoyed with Mr. Maltese, the chairman of the Republican Party in the borough and a founder of the state Conservative Party.
But some of the reluctance to support Mr. Baldeo, some officials said, resulted from the candidate’s troubles in last year’s election.
In the weeks before the primary for the City Council contest, Mr. Baldeo was arrested on charges accusing him of having waved a gun at the wife of a rival Democrat. The charges were dismissed. “It was a conspiracy to get me off the ballot,” he said of the incident, adding that Mr. Maltese included information about the arrest in literature during this campaign.
Aides to Mr. Maltese in his Queens district office said that the senator was out of town on vacation and could not be reached. United States Representative Joseph Crowley, the Queens Democratic chairman, did not return messages left with his office yesterday.
Early this year, the prospect of a competitive race against Mr. Maltese loomed large. City Councilman Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., a Queens Democrat, considered running against Mr. Maltese at the urging of aides to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, but decided against it.
Evan Stavisky, a political consultant who is close to Democratic candidates in Queens, said that Democratic officials in the state had been focused on Senate races in Yonkers and in Syracuse.
“For the first time in memory, the Senate Democrats picked up seats in successive election cycles,” he said, referring to the close race between Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat, and the incumbent Republican state senator, Nicholas A. Spano.
“I’m sure that the party will spend the next two years looking at vulnerable Republican seats and looking to get more Democrats elected,” Mr. Stavisky said.
State Democrats had better luck in District 60, which includes portions of Brooklyn and Staten Island, where they have apparently picked up a Republican-held Assembly seat. In that race, the Democratic candidate, Janele Hyer-Spencer, received 51.6 percent of the vote, while the Republican candidate, Anthony Xanthakis, received 48.4 percent in unofficial results. The incumbent, Matthew Mirones, did not run for re-election.