As if this year wasn’t crazy enough with elections, what with the two others that we had to vote in this year because apparently they couldn’t just schedule them all on the same day in September, which this year was Thursday instead of the customary Tuesday because of the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, which we’re sure only helped to encourage voter apathy.
But in case you missed the results, in south Queens James Sanders defeated incumbent Shirley Huntley in the race for her State Senate seat. Sanders was no doubt helped out by the fact that shortly before the election Huntely was paraded out of a courthouse in handcuffs over charges that she misused state money.
That’s never a good look for someone seeking re-election.
And in northeast Queens, State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky held off challenger John Messer, while Ron Kim was victorious in the crowded race to replace Assemblywoman Grace Meng, who will be challenging Republican Dan Halloran for Congress come this November.
In Brooklyn, Walter Mosley cruised to victory in the race for the Assembly seat being vacated by Hakeem Jeffries, who is headed off to Congress.
And in what was probably the most watched District Leader race in the history of the position of District Leader, in North Brooklyn Lincoln Restler may have narrowly lost his position to Community Board 1 chairman Chris Olechowski, although there are still absentee ballots to count and other challenges that could still wipe out Olechowski’s 123-vote lead.
Almost 11,000 people voted in this race for the usually obscure position – one of the highest turnouts in the city. The race became a referendum on the head of the Kings County Democratic Party, embattled Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who it was recently discovered was at the center of a hush-hush taxpayer payout to former staffers who say he sexually harassed them.
Restler has been a thorn in Lopez’s side since he won the post two years ago. In fact, he won by pushing a reform-minded agenda focused on grassroots organizing that bucked party machine politics.
He may have lost, but the scandal has already forced Lopez to resign as head of the Kings County Democratic Party and with a number of his colleagues calling for him to give up elected office altogether, Restler may have lost in the short term but proven to be victorious in the long term.
And in south Queens, Councilman Eric Ulrich easily won his primary against fellow Republican Juan Reyes for the chance to challenge State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr. come this November, but not before things got a little interesting.
Just days before voters headed to the polls, the Reyes campaign sent out a particularly ill-conceived mailer bashing Ulrich for being friends with openly gay councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, as well as hiring openly gay people to work in his office. The mailer went on to brand Ulrich as a “cosmopolitan Republican who mocked religious Americans.”
Not unsurprisingly, the mailer backfired – big time. During the campaign, Reyes played up that he once worked in the Rudy Giuliani administration as part of his qualifications for holding public office.
And those connections might have helped, in so far as that - at the very least - the former mayor might have stayed out of the race. But the mailer might have forced Giuliani’s hand, and possibly in an effort to distance himself from Reyes he actually endorsed Ulrich the day before the primary on the steps of City Hall.
It seems kind of odd that somebody with Giuliani’s credentials would get involved in a local State Senate race – and a primary at that - a primary that by all insider accounts Ulrich was well on his way to winning, whether Reyes sends out the anti-gay mailer or not.
To his credit, after he lost the election, Reyes apologized for the campaign literature saying that it was rushed and not properly scrutinized, but the damage was already clearly done.
So that’s that. Another 2012 election has come and gone. But don’t worry if you missed out on all of the fun, there’s still another one in November!