Before this year, Robert Conigliaro had never run for public office. Before this year, State Senator Joseph Addabbo had held some form of public office since 2001, when he was first elected to the City Council.
Addabbo also benefits from having a recognizable name. His father, Joseph Addabbo, Sr. represented south Queens in Congress for 13 terms.
But with all of those advantages and the closest thing Conigliaro had to governmental experience under his belt was heading the Queensborough Community College Alumni Association, the GOP candidate nearly pulled off a stunning upset.
Admittedly, maybe a 52-42 percent margin of victory for Addabbo isn't that close, but the two candidates were only separated by 3,500 votes at the end of the day. Heck, almost 2,000 people who went to the polls to vote that day in the 15th District didn't even fill in a choice for this race, so there were votes out there to be had.
And it's especially surprising when you compare it to the same race a couple of years ago between Addabbo and Councilman Eric Urlich, who undoubtedly had more experience, a more seasoned campaign, and far more name recognition than Conigliaro.
In the Ulrich-Addabbo race, Ulrich lost by somewhere around 10,000 votes, or 57-43 percent. It's hard to believe that a candidate who seemingly came off his couch to challenge a sitting incumbent fared better than Ulrich in the exact same district.
And to put it even further into context, when Addabbo first won his State Senate seat in 2008, he had to defeat 10-term incumbent Serphin Maltese, who by all accounts was a very popular elected official and well liked in the district. Few thought that Addabbo would be able to beat Maltese. When all the votes were counted, he had won by a stunning 15 percentage points.
We guess there really was voter dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party if an incumbent in Queens, which leans heavily to the Democratic side, nearly got knocked off by a political newcomer.