Republicans eye a much-coveted Assembly seat
by Anthony Stasi
Feb 02, 2010 | 8571 views | 0 0 comments | 563 563 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The assembly seat in New York’s 26th district is always a sought-after one for Republicans. Everybody in Queens wants to run in the Bayside area because the voter registration breakdown is friendlier than in many other parts of Queens. The 26th District also has as some of its major political issues those that Republicans like to talk about, such as home ownership, taxes, low crime rates, etc. Ann-Margaret Carrozza is the incumbent assemblywoman, and she is no easy opponent, so for the longest time this office has been to GOPers the one that got away.

It may be different in 2010, if only because the winds of change are not exactly blowing against the Republicans or challenger Vince Tabone. Can the mid-term wave, however large or small it might be, trickle down to the local level? Remember that Dan Halloran was able to take back the City Council seat that covers a lot of that same district, but Halloran wasn’t running against a strong incumbent like Carrozza. Tabone has the blessings of the party hierarchy, and that is usually job one.

“I was a Giuliani official and a Pataki official, so I have been involved in both government and in my community,” says Tabone. Tabone has also worked with GOP chair Phil Ragusa in helping other Republican candidates, so he can probably rely on his party faithful.

The State Assembly does not have matching funds for candidates - what you raise is still what you can use - so being an incumbent has the benefits of already having traction. Then add to the fact that once Tabone starts raising serious cash - and he has - the Democratic Assembly Committee (DAC) might launch into high gear to protect Carrozza. There is also a Republican Assembly Committee that can do the same for their side, but they probably will not for a challenger, since they are just trying to hold the seats they have right now.

Tabone has raised a tidy $30,000 thus far, and we are far from November. This makes this a competitive race. Carrozza can raise above whatever she already has, and since she has not had to spend money on big challengers too often, she should be set financially.

This will be a closer race than usual in this district because of a few factors. For one, Queens County chairman Phil Ragusa lives in this area and he has been a successful chairup tot this point. And Halloran is there to provide help, as well as proof that it can be done. But Carrozza has been active on a few important fronts, such as her presence on the Committee on Aging, where she sponsored legislation to protect seniors from bad health insurance policies.

What can be tough for Tabone is that all of the Republicans that won last November had certain factors that made it somewhat advantageous for them. Councilman Eric Ulrich in the 32nd Council District was able to first win a special election, which is always good for Republicans because they can get around party politics and stick to the issues. Ulrich then campaigned hard as the incumbent and won re-election. Tabone doesn’t have a special election to swipe.

Meanwhile, Halloran faced a tough opponent in Kevin Kim, but the Democratic primary was so messy for Kim that Halloran was able to build up support while that was going on. Carrozza doesn’t have a primary from which to get exhausted. Even Peter Koo, in his surprising win to the City Council, wound up facing a challenger that was not the Democratic Party’s first choice.

Should Tabone upset Carrozza, it would be the most significant turnover in the city – even with those other interesting races that we saw last November. Tabone knows the district well. What the voters in Bayside, Little Neck, and Douglaston should expect is an issues-based campaign on both sides, since both candidates are deeply involved in politics in that area. It’s a fun district for which to run a race, and the voters there are top notch. But it’s tough running as a challenger today with no matching funds, and what American wants to run against "Ann Margaret"?

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