Melinda Katz, Democratic candidate and the widely considered frontrunner in the race, recently sent out a fundraising letter with a subtle allegation that her Republican challenger, Tony Arcabascio, is only focused on helping the wealthy of the borough.
“As long as there's a Republican running to be the next Queens Borough President, fighting to make life easier for the 1% while working families struggle, our work is not yet finished,” the letter reads.
Okay, maybe it’s not all that subtle!
Although he is running on the Republican line, a party that is often linked to the financially privileged and is now taking a huge hit for the government shutdown, Arcabascio likes to point out that he is the son of Italian immigrants who worked so hard to provide for his family that he was essentially a latchkey kid.
“Unless you’re talking about the one percent which happens to be one percent of the successful sons of immigrants that work very hard and get an education and stand here today opposing the Queens Democratic machine candidate, yeah, I’m part of that one percent,” Arcabasio said at a recent debate. “I’m not an evil Republican.”
On the other hand, Katz is fond of bringing up the fact that her parents founded the Queens Symphony Orchestra as proof that she is devoted to enhancing the arts and culture in Queens. Very few people have parents who founded a symphony orchestra, probably only like, oh we don't know, one percent maybe.
Whose part of the privileged elite now, we ask?
But one thing that Arcabascio has to come to terms with is that he can claim to be a moderate all he wants, but being the Republican candidate for Queens borough president makes you one thing: a Republican.
Arcabasio points out that the Queens County Republican Party hasn't given him a nickel to help run his campaign. But he did accept their nomination, and voters who vote strictly along party lines have some right to assume that the candidate on the ballot shares their values.
And the more that Arcabasio tries to distance himself from the Republican Party, the more he risks alienating the one base of support that he can reasonably count on.
To prove further that he is not some sort of partisan hack, Arcabasio told this paper that if he were elected he would approach Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr., a Democrat who will be leaving office because of term limits at the end of this year, about serving as his deputy borough president.
Coincidentally, Vallone was defeated by Katz in the Democratic Primary for the seat. How did she do it?
She sent out numerous mailers playing up Vallone's support from the Conservative Party and suggesting that Vallone shared the party's more radical views on hot-button issues that would resonate with Democratic voters.
Vallone consistently downplayed the Conservative Party's support, countering that just because he accepted their support didn't mean that he shared all of the party's views.
It was a clever way of turning the issue, but Katz hammered the point home, both in campaign literature and in debates, and it seems to have swayed at least some voters considering she won.
In the end, this race is proving once again that while politicians argue over the one percent, the rest of the 99 are left out of the conversation.