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Oct 02 2011

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Batter Up: Who Will Challenge Avella In ’12?

Go ahead, take a swing, says incumbent State Senator Tony Avella (D-Bayside).

Four possible candidates show the ambition it takes to make a run for Tony Avella’s 11th Senate District in northeast Queens. Who are they?

While no candidate from the GOP has come forward and declared an official run, the 2012 election is right around the corner, and members of the Queens Republican Party have already been asking themselves, am I ready for a face- off with Democrat Tony Avella for the 11th Senatorial District?

Here are a few bets (a primary notwithstanding) for those GOP’ers circling the wagons:

 

1. City Council Member Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone)

Odds of running against Avella = 3 to 1

Dan has excellent name recognition in the community. He’s at all the meetings, almost omnipotent. Beside being the #1 target of the Queens Democratic Machine, Dan is a good representative. His experience with city government plus the professional networks he’s created will help push him over the hill. Dan is also very popular around the neighborhood, even though Dems enjoy a significant enrollment in terms of party registration (93,820 Dems vs. 32,018 GOP). If recent events have taught us anything, party solidarity is beginning to mean less as time goes on, but I digress…

Average folk tend to look past his Libertarian leanings, and his office staff is excellent, fast, and responsive. Dan is young and he has the energy to travel back and forth to Albany. It’s a lot of stress for us down-state folk. Dan’s odds: 3 to1.

2. Vince Tabone, Executive Director of the Queens County GOP.

Odds of running against Avella = 10 to 1.

Vince Tabone is one of those ‘operatives’ turned candidates. Vince pals around with Chairman Phil Ragusa from the Queens County GOP and he has mulled around the thought of taking the chair position from Ragusa for quite some time. Plenty of ambition over at the party HQ. Interesting story about Tabone, when I was working a special election in South Queens, Vince cornered me at the Reception House on Northern Blvd during a local GOP convention and promised to deliver me boots on the ground (code phrase for pro-volunteers) to South Queens. With the election a few days away, and no help from the Queens GOP in sight (we won that election by ourselves) I said, “Vince, you have no boots on the ground, and you can’t deliver what you don’t have.” I patted him on the back and I walked away. Later on he would run a failing bid for State Assembly against now incumbent Ed Braunstein, who I campaigned for.

Overall, Vince was a lackluster candidate who paid volunteers to sit around and eat. It’s true, my people saw his people on Election day hanging out at Gyro World. They were paid volunteers and they came from Long Island. But that’s not the point. The Senatorial electorate doesn’t want another hard-nosed conservative (the anti-gay sort), but that may not stop him from running. Vince is a great fundraiser plus he has an acerbic tongue that puts fear into the hearts of his opponents. Even with the North Shore Towers (a Democratic stronghold with dependable voters) working against him, Vince gave the Democratic County Machine a run for its money.  Vince’s odds: 10 to 1

3. Elio Forcina, Former State Assembly Candidate, Attorney.

Odds of running against Avella = 99 to 1

Elio Forcina is thought to be highly regarded amongst Conservatives as well as the Queens GOP. Elio ran for State Assembly District 26 in a Democratic primary as a Conservative Dem, and won nearly every single ED in Whitestone, (a stronghold of sometimes conservative leaning voters). During his grassroots campaign, Elio stuck to his Conservative roots and ran a platform of fiscal responsibility and increasing transparency in Albany. Wilson Pakula? Elio is also a neighborhood fixture in Clearview Gardens and his campaign banner is still up at the 7-11 parking lot in Whitestone, and probably will be forever.

I see Elio at many meetings, or at least see him in touch with current events on Facebook. I also campaigned for Elio because I thought he’d make for a great Assembly Member. Despite our contrasting views on the role of government, Elio would have been amiable enough to center himself and bring home the bacon to AD 26, he is after all, a neighborhood guy. Elio’s odds = 99 to 1

4. Marco DeSena

Odds of running against Avella = 20 to 1

Marco is somewhat of a mystery. Marco filed to run for Assembly in AD27 and got himself enough signatures to get on the ballot, and that’s where I believe his campaign ended. Marco spent 36 dollars in the election and gave Democrat Mike Simanowitz the edge. If Simanowitz had just three volunteers (he had an army of supporters, including yours truly) that would have been three more volunteers than DeSena had .

I ran into DeSena for the first time at a rally before the election, he came up and introduced himself. The Professor from Baruch College did not give off a candidate’s vibe, and the rally where we met wasn’t in his district. Although the Queens GOP did endorse him, someone over there must either like him, or they couldn’t find anyone else to step up to the plate. So, I don’t know. Something’s going on. DeSena is a variable, and now with an “Assembly run” behind him, at least he got his foot in the door. Marco’s odds = 20 to 1

5. ?

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* Many more may enter or never declare, and there’s no residency requirement for running. Also redistricting is a big issue, so we don’t actually know where Senate 11 will be located. Lastly, Senator Tony Avella is an excellent legislator and an experienced campaigner. He knows the people and the district better than any of the candidates above.

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