Padavan’s Challenge in 2010
by Anthony Stasi
Feb 23, 2010 | 4060 views | 0 0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One of the races to watch in Queens this coming November is the State Senate race in the 11th District in northeast Queens. State Senator Frank Padavan gets high marks in this district, but his close call election in 2008 was nothing to ignore. Councilman James Gennaro came as close as one can to unseating an incumbent, but fell about 500 votes short after close inspection. Now, Padavan faces Tony Avella, the former councilman from the 19th District.

Because of the way things have changed in the city, it’s fair to say that Padavan would have a tough race regardless of his performance in the State Senate, as Republicans have been on the defensive in recent years. But if Gennaro was a tough opponent because of his specialty issues like the environment, Avella might be formidable due to his non-traditional politicking. Avella has not always made nice with his own party, and he has been able to paint himself as an independent. Why is this important? This year might be tough for Democrats, as it is a mid-term election. Some people - and I count myself in this crowd - are not convinced that disapproval at the national level will trickle down to local election results. But even if that did happen, Avella can side step that land mine because he has a habit of going against the grain.

What Padavan has in his favor is that he is a pretty effective senator. He maintains his conservative base as serves as Vice-President Pro Tempore of the State Senate, which benefits his constituents. However, we saw Serf Maltese lose his seat two years ago in the State Senate, and Maltese was also well liked in his district. Maltese, like Padavan, was a respected "grey beard" in the senate, but Padavan manages to draw votes from the Democratic Party in decent numbers, and that is an area where GOPers are often weak. And while Maltese may have lost his seat, he has remained an active campaigner for other Republicans, which could benefit Padavan.

If Avella has any fences to mend in his party, now is the time to do it. Avella may have made a career out of not being a rubber stamp, but as former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern once noted, “at least a rubber stamp leaves an impression.”

The Biggest Loser?

If you think that primary fights are becoming too common in New York City, this is a reminder that they are happening elsewhere. Former congressman J.D. Hayworth of Arizona is challenging Senator John McCain for his Senate seat.Hayworth sees himself as the true conservative and wants to unseat McCain.

Hayworth lists eight reasons that conservatives should support him over John McCain this year on his campaign website. Not one reason is issue-based. The best is reason #4: “Life Isn’t Starship Troopers.” This is actually one of his reasons. In case you might not realize, Hayworth is referring to a movie of the same name. “This isn’t Robert Heinlein’s sci-fi classic, where ‘the franchise is limited only to discharged veterans’ along with the ability to hold political office,” explains the website. What Hayworth is saying is that Arizona has been rewarding McCain for his military service long enough. Ah, survivor’s guilt, it never quite goes away.

McCain’s campaign finance efforts riled up his own party and ultimately kept him from the presidency in 2000, which was really his time. Hayworth is not much of an idea candidate. He seems more concerned with the ratings that conservative interest groups give him. He left congress when the going got tough for his party, and he took a big corporate job. He got his stomach stapled and dropped 40 pounds. With his new image, he feels he has a new mission, but the man he is challenging knows a little something about missions.

To get the full understanding of what Hayworth is doing, imagine if a Democrat had challenged Ted Kennedy for his Massachusetts seat. Hayworth wants to end McCain’s career. Why? Because McCain, in the Arizona presidential primary in 2008, only grabbed 47 percent of the GOP vote in his own state. According to Hayworth, McCain is not a loud-enough grinding gear.

The news flash for the former broadcaster Hayworth is this: McCain is a soft campaigner. He rarely takes off the gloves, but he might just do it this time. What guys like Hayworth never understand is that veterans like McCain do not have to feign toughness through noisy rhetoric, they have seen enough real noise to know better.

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