The New York Times

November 10, 2006

A Curious Lack of Interest in a Senate Seat in Queens

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.

LINK: reprinted from The New York Times


New York Daily News -
Maltese to edge Baldeo?
Thursday, November 9th, 2006

Despite victories for Democrats in most races throughout Queens, Republican incumbent state Sen. Serphin Maltese appears to have won a squeaker over Albert Baldeo.

With results in from every election precinct, Maltese leads 51% to 49%, though Baldeo said he will ask for a recount and may file a lawsuit alleging that some voters were disenfranchised. Maltese told the Daily News he led by 1,094 votes with only 626 absentee ballots left to be counted. But Baldeo said the margin was closer to 700 votes, and the number of absentee ballots is unknown. Maltese "should not allow his anxiety to overcome the democratic process" of counting each vote, Baldeo said. Maltese, who has represented western Queens for 18 years, had initially been expected to breeze to victory. But Baldeo, a prominent Guyanese-American lawyer, made a late charge, thanks to campaign mailings in recent weeks.

"In the face of a tsunami, obviously I survived in a district that's over 2-to-1 Democrat," Maltese said. In the days leading up to the election, Baldeo mailed out literature blasting Maltese for allowing overdevelopment. Maltese said Baldeo's mailings included quotes he "made up" and attributed to other Democrats. "I think he would have been a disgrace in the Senate," Maltese said. "The guy is crazy." Baldeo denied fabricating any quotes. The candidates also accused each other of sending staffers to intimidate residents at the polls. Maltese "and his goons were telling them not to vote [for Baldeo] because 'he's Indian and he's not going to be there for you,'" Baldeo said.

In one of the borough's other major races, Democrat Shirley Huntley crushed Republican and Conservative candidate Jereline Hunter to win the state Senate seat representing southeastern Queens. In September, Huntley won the Democratic nomination by defeating incumbent Ada Smith, who was recently found guilty of tossing coffee in a staffer's face. Two Assembly races in Flushing also received attention. Democrat Rory Lancman easily beat Morshed Alam, whose campaign had struggled ever since one of his aides accused Lancman of being a racist. And Ellen Young won her Assembly bid, making her the first Asian-American woman to serve in Albany.

LINK: reprinted from New York Daily News


The Village Voice

State Senate Squeaker Surprise 

By Jarrett Murphy | November 8, 2006

As the election returns were coming in Tuesday night, some folks at the Sheraton were already talking about 2008—not whether Hillary will win New Hampshire, but whether New York Democrats will finally achieve their goal of winning control over the State Senate. Because it clearly wasn't happening last night.

With the exception of Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who was narrowly ahead of incumbent Nick Spano in the most recent count of their State Senate seat race in Yonkers, the candidates in which Democrats placed much hope this year failed in knocking off GOP senators. Brian Keeler lost to Stephen Saland, John Flanagan beat Brooke Ellison, and Vincent Leibell beat back Michael Kaplowitz.

Meanwhile, New York City's four GOP state senator seats remained in the Republican column.

It struck some Democrats as odd that in such a Democratic year, with top Dems like Eliot Spitzer cruising to victory with money to spare (In their final pre-primary reports, Spitzer/Paterson had about $8 million in the bank, Alan Hevesi $4 million), that more wasn't done to unseat the Republicans in the city. Sen. Marty Golden didn't even draw a challenger. Matthew Titone had half a shot at taking the former John Marchi seat. Nora Marino was considered a credible challenger to Frank Padavan, but entered the race a little late. And no one gave Albert Baldeo, a lawyer and community activist who lost a city council bid in 2005, a chance against Serphin Maltese.

Why so little effort? Strategists said that to run a real campaign against an incumbent you needed $300,000 to $500,000, as well as a strong local person willing to run.

Both Titone and Marino lost by around 20 percentage points and 10,000 votes, according to published returns. Baldeo, on the other hand, came within 783 votes of winning in a race with very low turnout. He spent about $60,000.

But what's another two years of GOP control? As commenter Rich informed me, the Democrats have the held the State Senate for all of two years (1964-1966) since 1939. Why rush?

LINK: reprinted from The Village Voice


Maltese squeaks by Baldeo
By Nathan Duke
State Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) defeated Albert Baldeo, his first Democratic challenger in more than a decade, by a surprisingly small margin in a nail biter of a race Tuesday, earning 51 percent of the vote to Baldeo's 49 percent, according to preliminary results reported by NY 1.

Maltese, who is also the chairman of the Queens Republican Party, defeated Guyanese-born Ozone Park attorney Baldeo in a neck-to-neck contest to retain his Albany seat, which he has held since 1988.

Baldeo previously ran for City Council in 2005 against Thomas White (D-Jamaica) and was the first Democrat to challenge Maltese for his seat in more than 10 years. Baldeo focused his campaign on improvements in education, challenging a bill introduced by Maltese that would allow police to take race and ethnicity into consideration when pulling over drivers and local issues, such as better sanitation and an increase in police officers on the street in his district.

In a late surge, Baldeo's campaign received contributions of more than $57,000 since Oct. 26, according to the state campaign finance filings. More than $50,000 came from Baldeo.

Maltese emphasized battling overcrowding in schools and neighborhoods in his district during his campaign, including creating more school space and fighting overdevelopment and illegal housing. He also defended his racial profiling bill as "common sense" legislation and said he would vote against abortion and gay marriage if they came before the state Senate.

During his campaign, Baldeo said Maltese was out of touch with his constituents, but the state senator quipped that he had never met his opponent and accused him of not being a public figure in the ethnically diverse district, which includes Glendale, Ridgewood, Middle Village, Maspeth, Richmond Hill, Howard Beach, Woodhaven, Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Sunnyside, Woodside, Rego Park, Ozone Park and South Ozone Park.

Middle Village resident Roman Jones said he voted for Maltese Tuesday.

"He ain't as liberal as the other guy," he said.

In the 11th Senate District state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) easily beat Democratic challenger and Little Neck attorney Nora Marino, earning 60 percent of the vote to Marino's 40 percent. The race was Padavan's first contested race since 2000.

Shirley Huntley, who pulled an upset win against long-term state Sen. Ada Smith (D-Jamaica) in the Democratic primary, sailed past her Republican challenger Jereline Hunter with 89 percent of the vote to Hunter's 11 percent in the 10th S.D.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by email at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

LINK: reprinted from the TimesLedger:

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