Close race, new chase
With recent surprise in State Senate contest, Dems now eye 2008 in an effort to unseat 18-year incumbent
BY BRYAN VIRASAMI
Newsday Staff Writer
November 29, 2006


Three weeks after a veteran figure in Queens politics nearly lost a Senate seat, the surprise close call is still reverberating in the borough - and possibly re-shaping the local electoral agenda for 2008.

According to the tentative tallies, state Sen. Serphin Maltese, an 18-year Republican incumbent and longtime conservative activist, held his 15th district seat by a mere 783 votes against Democratic challenger Albert Baldeo.


Baldeo, 46, an attorney, nearly pulled off the upset against Maltese - the Queens Republican chairman - without party support, defying insiders' expectations.

"There is no one in the world who can say to me that we should have known there was a vulnerability here," said Rep. Joseph Crowley, the new Queens Democratic chairman. "There was nothing to indicate that - absolutely nothing," Crowley said.

After the vote, Maltese, 73, who is of Italian ancestry, made an unusual claim - that Baldeo, a Guyanese immigrant of Indian ancestry, may have benefited from leading voters to believe that he too is of Italian background.

Maltese said he wasn't certain for a while because Baldeo was often not seen around the district, which stretches from Middle Village to Howard Beach, and has a sizeable Italian-American population. Maltese didn't deny he pointed out his Italian ancestry to potential voters.

"After we saw his Web site, we realized he was Guyanese," Maltese said of Baldeo during a telephone interview from
Florida, where he's on vacation. "There's no doubt he's not Italian but the fact is, with his name, the average voter could very well say he was Italian."

Maltese did not say precisely how he thought Baldeo was misleading voters about his ethnicity - a charge Maltese earlier made in a Village Voice story and which Baldeo vehemently denied.

"He's so racially motivated to make these remarks, he shouldn't even be a state senator," Baldeo said. He accused Maltese of ignoring the needs of immigrants in the district, which he called a motive for his challenge and a reason he came so close.

Maltese got 17,122 votes, or 51.2 percent, to Baldeo's 16,339 votes, or 48.8 percent, according to still-unofficial tallies to be certified by the state Board of Elections.

While Baldeo's race was ignored by Democratic leaders before the election, he was given legal help and other assistance during the vote-certification process by Democratic leaders - who are already talking about 2008, when the seat is up again. Who will get the more-valued nomination next time is in question.

As a candidate, Baldeo had his share of problems. Last year, he spent a night in jail after he was accused of pulling a gun on the wife of an opponent when he ran for City Council. The charges have been dropped, but some Democrats have kept their distance.

And at least one other Democrat, City Councilman Joseph Addabbo of Far Rockaway, who'd been rumored for a possible candidacy this year, is leaning toward running in two years.

For the moment, some observers see the Democrats as having already blown a big chance.

"They were so focused on the statewide races and they built up these huge margins, they squandered this huge opportunity for a Democrat to unseat a dinosaur," said Doug Muzzio, a political science professor at Brooklyn College.

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11/16/2006
Baldeo Calls On Feds As Maltese Lead Jumps

by Christopher Henderson , Assistant Editor

An initial recanvassing of the votes cast in the race for the District 15 state Senate seat shows incumbent Serphin Maltese (R Glendale) increasing his slim lead over Democrat Albert Baldeo, according to Board of Elections officials.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Maltese had 17,371 votes to Baldeo’s 16,505. His lead stood at 866 votes, up from the 617 vote margin reported on Election night. The absentee ballots remain to be counted, but the process should be completed by the end of the week, according to John Ravitz, executive director of the elections board.

No matter how the final numbers come out, Baldeo said he plans to push federal officials to investigate accusations of voter disenfranchisement. He said his poll observers were not allowed to be present when the initial counts were taken on Election night—contrary to established practice—and that several voters were turned away by poll workers appointed by Maltese.
 

“This is not about me, this is about the voters’ choice. Their basic rights have been deprived. It should not be taken lightly by anyone,” Baldeo said.
Maltese has been on vacation since shortly after the election and was unavailable for comment. He did, however, run an advertisement this week in community newspapers thanking voters and laying into Baldeo.
“In the face of a terrible campaign of shameless lies and attacks on me and my family by my unscrupulous opponent, you stood fast and supported me and you have through all these years,” the advertisement reads.
If indeed Maltese prevails, his victory would create an interesting quandary for the Queens County Democratic Organization, as the party looks to rout the GOP in the state Senate in 2008. Maltese, an 18 year incumbent, is clearly vulnerable, but the question remains whether the party will embrace Baldeo, who has been shunned in the past.
 

Immediately after the election, Michael Reich, the organization’s executive secretary, named Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D Howard Beach) as a likely Senate candidate in 2008.

Link

©Queens Chronicle 2006
 
11/09/2006
Dem Landslide Makes No Difference Locally
by Christopher Henderson , Assistant Editor

While the Democrats rolled to victory across the state and the nation on Tuesday night, the party appears to have missed an opportunity to pick up a state Senate seat in Queens.
State Sen. Serphin Maltese (R Glendale) narrowly defeated attorney Albert Baldeo, who ran on the Democratic line with little support from the county and state parties. Unofficial results gave Maltese a total of 17,122 votes to Baldeo’s 16,339 as of Wednesday morning. Baldeo refused to concede the race, saying that he will demand a recount once the election is verified by the Board of Elections.

It was the only close local race in an evening dominated by establishment candidates. State Sen. Frank Padavan (R Bellerose) easily retained the seat he has held for 34 years, defeating attorney Nora Marino by a count of 29,787 votes to 19,795. Democrat Shirley Huntley trounced Republican Jereline Hunter in the race for the Jamaica Senate seat previously held by the controversial Ada Smith.
 

In the borough’s six Assembly races, Democrats handily defeated their opponents, with each victor pulling in more than 72 percent of the vote. The closest contest was in Forest Hills, where incumbent Andrew Hevesi outpaced challenger Dolores Maddis by more than 8,000 votes. In Flushing, Ellen Young beat Christopher Migliaccio; Rory Lancman beat Morshed Alam, and incumbent Nettie Mayersohn beat Walter Lamp. In Far Rockaway, incumbents Audrey Pheffer and Michele Titus defeated Stuart Mirsky and Mike Duvalle, respectively.
 

There were no upsets of the magnitude of Huntley’s shocking defeat of Smith in the September Democratic primary, but the results of the Maltese Baldeo race were watched closely throughout the night. Baldeo managed to make the contest unexpectedly close despite failing to secure the endorsement of the Queens County Democratic Organization and the fundraising muscle that goes along with it. Instead, he spent thousands of his own money on a primarily negative advertising campaign in community newspapers.  The negative nature of the campaign appeared to turn off some voters as they went to the polls on Tuesday. “This race has been full of dirty politics. Maltese has been here for years and Baldeo spent his time undercutting the guy’s life. I can’t feel good about any of these candidates,” said Joe Guagliardo, a security guard who lives in Ozone Park.
 

Maltese nervously watched the results of the race Tuesday night, not feeling secure in his victory until past midnight. Reached Wednesday at his office, he laced into Baldeo for running an “irresponsible campaign.” The senator noted that Baldeo issued several mailings featuring photos of prominent local Democrats, including Pheffer and Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio, against their wishes. Pheffer and Seminerio said they never granted Baldeo permission to use their photos. Pheffer went so far as to complain to the county organization about the literature.
Baldeo said neither Seminerio nor Pheffer approached him about not using their photos. He then accused Maltese’s campaign of electioneering, intimidation and harassment. “We won this election. There were some shenanigans and malfeasances that need to be looked into,” he said.
 

While it appears that a stronger candidate may have been able to defeat Maltese, Michael Reich, the executive secretary of the Queens County Democratic Organization, said the result would have been the same no matter who ran. “If we had embraced that race, it would have woken up the Republicans. They would have poured money into propping up Serf. It was a close race because Serf didn’t put much into it,” he said.
Reich said the party will use the race as a “blueprint” for 2008, when he expects the Democrats will defeat both Maltese and Padavan. He mentioned Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D Howard Beach) as a potential opponent to Maltese.
 

While Padavan’s seat had been targeted by the Democrats this year, the senator once again cruised to victory. Padavan said he knew he would win the election “about 10 minutes after the polls closed. In view of the Democratic landslide, it’s very heartwarming,” he said.
 

Statewide, Democrats swept all four of the major races in convincing fashion. Eliot Spitzer defeated John Faso in the governor’s race; Hillary Clinton beat John Spencer to return to the U.S. Senate; and Andrew Cuomo completed his political comeback by vanquishing Jeanine Pirro in the race for attorney general. Queens’ own Alan Hevesi survived a scandal of his own by defeating Chris Callaghan to remain the state’s comptroller.
 

In heavily Democratic Queens, most races had been decided in the September primary, but many voters made sure they made it the polls on Tuesday. “I voted Democratic all the way down. I don’t vote Republican because I’m not rich—they want to privatize everything. The Democrats are more for the middle class people. Lots of middle class people are getting cheated out of a lot of things,” said James Lightfoot as he took his two young children into a polling station in Jamaica.
 

Chronicle Correspondent Sitara Nieves contributed to this story

Link

©Queens Chronicle 2006
Nine Indian Americans Emerge Winners
Saturday, 11 November 2006
Led by the high profile Republican Bobby Jindal, as many as nine Indian Americans won in the Nov 7 US elections to national, state and local offices, notching up one of their best performances to date. There were 23 Indian Americans running for various offices in the elections.

The incumbent Jindal won the race to the US Congress from the 1st District in Louisiana with a thumping majority of 87.9 percent (71,493), with his three opponents together garnering less than 11,000 votes.

He is only the second person of Indian origin to enter the US Congress after Dilip Singh Saund won more than 50 years ago from California.

With their victories, Indian Americans now have representation in six state legislatures (New Jersey, Maryland, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas and Ohio) in addition to the US Congress through Representative Jindal.

Among the winners are entrenched Indian American legislators Kumar Barve in Maryland, Satveer Chaudhary in Minnesota and Swati Dandekar in Iowa - all of whom notched up comfortable victories.

In South Carolina, incumbent Republican Nikki Randhawa ran unopposed from District 52 for a seat in the State House.

Among the new entrants are Jay Goyal, 26, Democrat, who defeated Phillip Holloway in the 73rd District to win a seat in the Ohio state House. He polled 63 percent of the vote to his rival's 36 percent.

In the 87th district in Kansas, Democrat Raj Goyle, 31, beat three-term Representative Bonnie Huy, polling 56 percent against Huy's 44 percent.

In New Hampshire, Republican Saghir Tahir made it to the State House from District 50 - one of six Republicans from the Manchester area who managed to win back their seats in a state that voted overwhelmingly Democrat.

Another winner was Rajan Zed, who ran unopposed for the General Improvement District Trustee of Verdi TV District.

Among the Indian Americans who were re-elected, Minnesota State Senator Chaudhary, a Democrat and the first Asian American to be elected to the Minnesota legislature, retained his District 50 seat comfortably, winning 64 percent of the votes.

An attorney with his roots in Haryana, Chaudhary's constituency is largely white with hardly any Indian American constituents.

In Iowa, State Representative Dandekar, won for the third time from District 36 in Marion, beating her Republican rival Nick Wagner by 55 percent to 45.

The Maharashtra-born Dandekar, who arrived in the US in 1972 soon after her marriage, received considerable support from the Indian American community.

Maryland House of Delegates Majority Leader Kumar Barve, often referred to as the "Dean of Indian American Democrats" and the longest-serving US legislature of Indian origin, also won comfortably from District 17, bagging 24 percent of the vote, the third-highest of three top Democratic vote-getters whose total vote was around 75 percent.

Unsuccessfully emulating Representative Jindal's run for federal office were three Indian Americans, all of whom performed creditably.

Democrat Ajinderpal Singh Sekhon won 32 percent of the vote in California's District 2, losing to long-time incumbent Republican Wally Herger's 64.2 percent.

Republican Raj Bhakta, contesting from Pennsylvania's District 13, did better, especially given the anti-Republican trend, securing 34 percent of vote against Democratic incumbent Allyson Schwartz, who polled 66 percent.

In Virginia, Independent candidate Neeraj Nigam, polled a paltry 1 percent of the vote in District 10. Republican Frank Wolf won with 58 percent, while Democrat Judy Feder got 41 percent.

Two election results involving Indian Americans was still awaited. In Maryland's District 42, Republican Dilip Paliath was not among the top three vote-getters, although there were some 6,000 mail-in ballots yet to be counted which could change the results.

And in New York's District 15, State Senate, Albert Baldeo, Democrat, won 48.83% votes to his opponent Republican Serphin R. Maltese's 51.17%. The vote difference is a mere 783. He has said he was seeking a recount.

Among the prominent losers were Bhagwan Dashairya (Constitution Party of Michigan) who ran for Michigan Governor and secured less than 1 percent of the vote in a race swept by Democratic incumbent Jennifer Granholm.

Democrat Neeta Sane, who ran for Fort Bend, Texas, County Treasurer, put up a strong fight getting 45 percent of the vote against Republican Jeff Council's 55 percent.

Republican Jay Bala running for Maryland House from District 28, got a good response for a first-time candidate at 34.26 percent of the vote to 65.74 percent of Democrat Tom Middleton.

Republican Neil B. Sood, running for Maryland State Assembly from District 21 polled 12.1 percent of the vote.

Other losers included Morshed Alam (Republican) in New York's District 25;Khorshed Chowdhury (Republican) in New York's District 54; Rano Singh (Democrat), running for Arizona State Treasurer; Prameela Kaza (Democrat), running for Delware Delaware State House from District 31; and Mehul Thakker (Green Party), running for California State Treasurer.

LINK : reprinted from The Weekly Voice

LINK: reprinted from South Asian News

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Daily Kos

New York State Senate Races: Update

Wed Oct 18, 2006 at 03:07:29 PM PST

Last month, I wrote about a dozen contested races for the New York State Senate. Since then, candidates have filed the 1-month pre-election campaign finance compiling report, scheduled and participated in debates, and won endorsements. The playing field has changed somewhat. I overlooked the 2nd District, where Brooke Ellison is mounting a serious challenge to incumbent John Flanagan. In the 40th District, Mike Kaplowitz has gained support from the state party establishment in his race against Vincent Leibell.

Two recent polls underscore how vulnerable the Republican majority in the New York State Senate could be. In a September poll run by the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, 67% of Monroe County voters said that state legislators have not "done anything noteworthy on [their] behalf." Earlier this week, Elliot Spitzer led John Faso 68-22 in a Siena University poll , carrying every region of the state by at least 40 points. The same poll found that 60% of upstate voters felt that the state was on the wrong track.
 

State Committees:
New York State Senate Republican Campaign Committee:
On top of all the money they give to candidates, the NY State Senate Republican Campaign Committee has itself spent $340,000 on TV advertising and $88,500 on polls just in the last three months.
Raised: $1,721,700
Transfers In: $279,825.00
Expenditures: $1,991,162.44
Transfers Out: $963,038.00
Cash on Hand: $3,525,174.27

New York State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee:
Outraised, outspent, and outgunned by its Republican Counterpart, the State DSCC is largely a project for future election cycles. It has given only $14,250 directly to Democratic candidates and has been outspent 20:1 by the SRCC. Spitzer and Paterson have each given about $80,000 to the committee, indicating their commitment to winning control of the State Senate if not in this cycle, then sometime in the future.
Raised & Transfers in: $630,231.16
Expenditures & Transfers out: $146,929.01
Cash on Hand: $885,200.99



Sen-15: Inc. Serphin Maltese (R,I,C) - Albert Baldeo (D)
UPDATE: For all of Baldeo's baggage, he is almost keeping up with Maltese in fundraising. Since mid-July, Baldeo has raised $44,000 while Maltese has taken in about $75,000, $17,000 from other GOP leadership PACs. Baldeo has $45,000 on hand to $76,000 for Maltese. Perhaps the most interesting part of this race are the photo-ops. Baldeo's campaign website features the candidate posing for photographs with just about every important New York Democrat, plus Bill Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Maltese's website includes a photo of him accepting the endorsement of /Democratic/ assemblyman Anthony Seminerio, who is evidently seeking a primary challenger in 2008. LIKELY R
 

9/15: Maltese, like Padavan, is a long-term Queens Republican incumbent representing an overwhelmingly Democratic district who has run unopposed the last two elections. However, Maltese endorsed a Republican rival of Mayor Bloomberg in 2005, and since then Bloomberg has been seeking revenge. The nominally Republican mayor tried hard to recruit Democratic Councilman Joseph Addabbo to run against Maltese, but Addabbo backed out, leaving attorney Albert Baldeo as the Democrat in the race. Baldeo has raised only $35,000 to over $130,000 for Maltese. While Maltese is probably weaker than Padavan, Baldeo is the reason this race isn't a better pickup opportunity than the 11th; during a primary campaign for a city council seat last year he and an opponent engaged in a feud that led to both getting arrested. The district is 1/4 hispanic, which could play to Baldeo's advantage. This race leans for Maltese, and we could have done better than Baldeo for a candidate. LIKELY R

LINK: reprinted from Daily Kos

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Odds And Ends

November 9, 2006 at 7:37 pm by Elizabeth Benjamin
 

Sorry for the extended delay in posting. I was on the train back to Albany from NYC with a very wonky aircard. While I was going through withdrawal:

The Politicker opined on the surprisingly close 15th SD race between Republican state Sen. Serph Maltese, who’s also the Queens County GOP chairman, and Democrat Albert Baldeo, an immigration lawyer. This one seemingly came out of (ahem) left field and stunned people on both sides of the aisle, since it wasn’t a targeted race.  

The AP, following the official fall of the U.S. Senate into Democratic hands, ran a story in which DSCC Chair/U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, (now #12 on the power scale) was proclaimed “a political genius” by soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Schumer was unusually modest about it all, saying he didn’t know whether he would remain DSCC chair, although he’s considering it, and attributing “65 percent” of his success to GOP mistakes. He did, however, tout his fund-raising prowess, which was largely the result, he said, of his “good relationship with the business community.”

Erstwhile GOP gubernatorial candidate John Faso gave Gannett’s Yancy Roy a post-election exit interview. Faso said he’s going back to Manatt Phelps and Philips, and he called for state Republican Chairman Stephen Minarik’s departure in the wake of the party’s dismal performance on Tuesday - although not necessarily right away.

Speaking to the Democrat & Chronicle’s Joe Spector, Minarik said he did the best he could in the job “under the circumstances.”

Minarik, who retained his post as Monroe County GOP chairman after accepting the state party gig in November 2004 at the behest of Gov. George Pataki, said he will discuss his future with the state’s new top Republican, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick.

But, the chairman added: “I don’t anticipate any changes at this very time that we are speaking.”

Ben Smith, demonstrating that he either has a friend with a plane or a source in the surveillance industry, revealed the location of the new Fort Pataki - in Peekskill, of course, where it all began. 

And the Empire Zone, looking, along with everyone else, to the 2008 elections now that 2006 is safely out of the way, reported on newly-announced Democratic presidential candidate and soon-to-be former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack’s courtesy call to his potential rival, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY.

LINK: reprinted from Times Union

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AM New York  - New York City Government,including George Pataki, Mike Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton, and Rudy Guliani

Dems hang on in the city

NEWSDAY STAFF WRITER
November 7, 2006, 11:35 PM EST

Democrats and incumbents triumphed in the five boroughs last night, paving the way for Eliot Spitzer to become the first victorious gubernatorial candidate in 12 years to carry heavily Democratic New York City.

Despite a few Republican victories in pockets of the city, Democrats held on to their seats and early results showed that eight freshmen members will represent the city in the state legislature -- including three from Queens.

While the governor's race was a yawn given Spitzer's consistent domination in the polls, it was perhaps a double yawn in a city where Democrats were expected to prevail. Back in 1994, George Pataki lost the city to Mario Cuomo and four years later to Peter Vallone and to Carl McCall in 2002 despite winning the races.

Spitzer's victory prompted Democrats to predict the state will work quickly to settle the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit, a case in which courts have ruled city schools have been historically under-funded and deserve more state aid.

Soon after the polls closed, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) told a reporter he will work with Spitzer to push for an agreement on the suit, which has been a priority for Mayor Michael Bloomberg and city Democrats.

In other races, Yvette Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrant and former Councilwoman Una Clarke, edged out three challengers to replace retiring Rep. Major Owens in Brooklyn. She's expected to be the only new face to represent the city in Washington.

Ellen Young, a Taiwan-born immigrant and former aide to Councilman John Liu of Flushing, was set to become the first Asian-American woman to serve in Albany and will be among eight new state legislators from the city.

"What a tremendous victory for all of us, and I am so grateful to all of my friends, supporters and family for all the help and encouragement that they've given me over the last few months," Young said in a statement last night. "It really is an historic moment for Queens County and the great State of New York."

In a separate Assembly race in Flushing, Democrat Rory Lancman sailed to victory over Morshed Alam, who lost the primary but was on the Republican line.

After she booted Brooklyn's incumbent Democrat Ada Smith in September, longtime community advocate Shirley Huntley held her own to beat Republican Jereline Hunter. In Brooklyn, Eric Adams, the founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, beat James Gay to become the new Brooklyn state senator in the seat now held by Carl Andrews, who ran for Owens' seat.

The only two Republican state senators from Queens, Serphin Maltese and Frank Padavan, had challengers. While Padavan was winning, Maltese and challenger Albert Baldeo were in a tight race, with votes yet to be tallied several hours after the polls closed.

In Staten Island, Rep. Vito Fossella, the only Republican member of Congress from the five boroughs who campaigned on anti-terrorism issues, held on despite a strong challenge from Democrat Stephen Harrison.

Bloomberg, who has made a point of not endorsing candidates in statewide races, has been supportive of Fossella. Bloomberg also supported Republican Anthony Xanthakis, who was leading last night over Democrat D. Janele Hyer-Spencer in Staten Island. The mayor also endorsed Republican Joseph Savino over incumbent Democrat Jeff Klein, who was leading last night.

LINK: reprinted from AM New York

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