General Elections: The Race Is (Still On)
Peter Boudouvas, Meilin Tan, Joseph Cinquemani are among the candidates running in the Nov. 2 General Election.
By ALEX PADALK, JACK BUEHRER and AZI PAYBARAH
In Queens, where the borough’s 589,719 Democrats represent roughly twice as many votes as those in all the other parties combined, the fight for the Democratic Party’s line for the general election is intense. In fact, many consider the primary races more competitive than the general election, where the borough’s other 302,747 voters cast their ballots.
With more than a month before the Nov. 2 general election, more than a dozen campaigns are forging ahead, some with less sophistication than the ones who battled for survival during the Sept. 14 primary.
Before introducing the Republicans running for office in a candidate’s forum last month, leaders of Queens County Republican organization bowed their heads and asked for divine help “to bring forth the best candidates…[and the] Republican philosophy.” Even with the help they sought, Republicans failed to field candidates in over a dozen races.
In Flushing, the Democratic Party line now belongs to businessman Jimmy Meng, who beat incumbent Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik. Although Grodenchik will appear on the Working Families Line, Meng’s main opponent in November will be Republican Meilin Tan, who told the Tribune this week, she’s almost ready to hire a campaign manager.
“We have quite a few people for a campaign manager,” Tan said. “I am still in the process of making the final decision.”
When asked how she thought her operation was going overall, Tan replied, “My campaign is going great.”
In Ozone Park, where former schoolteacher Jerry Cronin is looking to unseat Congressman Anthony Weiner, the challenger was more muted in his optimism. During a 32-minute interview inside a closet at the American Legion Hall on 101st Avenue, Cronin admitted that Styrofoam-plate-and-plastic-utensil fundraiser underway at the time was a major component of his fundraising effort.
Despite the money, Cronin described his run for office less as a realistic endeavor and more as a way of fulfilling his patriotic duty.
“It is the democratic thing to do,” he said. “The attitude from the press,” Cronin added, was that “this was a free run for [Weiner], this congressional race is guaranteed. My thinking was this is ridiculous.”
His challenger, Weiner, characterized his fundraising in similarly modest tones, admitting he borrowed money from his parents during his initial congressional race.
According to Sept. 13 financial statement, available online at the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Friends of Weiner has $1,622,721 on hand. The latest financial statement from Cronin, filed in July of this year, showed zero dollars in his war chest.
In the 14th Congressional District, which includes Manhattan, two Upper East Side residents are vying for the chance to represent Astoria. A Republican candidate, who doubles as his own treasurer, is challenging Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. Republican Anton Srdanovic so far has logged $12,228 for his campaign. As of September, Maloney has $549,491.
Earlier this week, the Tribune received an email from Srdanovic’s campaign announcing a Manhattan fundraiser with Manhattan County Republican Chairman James Ortenzio. In a telephone this week, Srdanovic declined to elaborate on his fundraising effort.
In Eastern Queens, Republicans had a primary to determine who will challenge incumbent Congressman Gary Ackerman.
Stephen Graves, who said the primary helped fire up his supporters, declared $1,465 on hand in his July 15 FEC financial statement. Ackerman declared $987,447 on hand in his September filing.
After easily winning a four-way primary, Congressman Joe Crowley will face Republican Joseph Cinquemani, who described himself earlier as “one of the biggest underdogs.” Crowley’s war chest, teetering towards $1 million, helped steer one primary challenger out of the race and now presents an obstacle to Cinquemani, whose September financial statement with the FEC revealed he has $4,167.
During the candidate’s forum, Cinquemani said, “Joe Crowley is allowing Washington to pick our pockets,” because New York is not getting enough money to fight terrorism. But the “Washington” that Cinquemani says is picking the pockets of local Queens residents is more allied with his party than Crowley’s. Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House.
Inside the Bayside and Flushing Assembly District currently represented by Ann-Margaret Carrozza, lawn signs from her opponent have begun to spring up. Challenger Peter Boudouvas, who opened a campaign office over the weekend, described his campaign operation as a “fully volunteer operation.”
“There’s a certain amount of commitment that people have and a belief in trying to better,” he said of unpaid campaign aides.