While the Democratic candidates are busy campaigning against each other, Republican hopeful Dennis Saffran finds the time to raise funds unhindered by the looming primary.
In most parts of this City the results of the primary election almost always decide the result of the general election. Few districts remain competitive after their respective primaries but there are a few exceptions like in the 19th CD in Northeast Queens, which is the home turf of the Queens Republican Party and the stomping grounds of Councilman Dan Halloran who was arrested on corruption charges in April and not seeking reelection.
Enter Dennis Saffran, an attorney and member of the Douglaston Civic Association, who has thrown his hat into the ring with the full weight of the Queens GOP backing up the play for the 19th. But could he win?
In retrospect, the Queens GOP historically held down parts of the northeast from the days of Frank Padavan –the blue and white collar mixed community of co-ops, one and two family homes, always had a viable GOP presence which gives some red candidates a fighting chance.
According to the latest filing, Saffran raised $40,907.99, nearly three times as much any of his Democratic opponents and topping out with $56,258, but he’s still not in first place. Austin Shaffran leads the pack with $101,797 followed by Paul Vallone and John Duane with just over $80,000 a piece. Former Halloran staffer Chrissy Voskerichian and urban lobbyist Paul Graziano are also running but lag behind in fundraising.
Still, his reporting should not go unnoticed. Touting the latest filing, Saffran stated that his gains are a sign of how people are fed up with politics as usual and are looking to his candidacy as the independent choice. “That our campaign has raised nearly three times as much as any of our opponents in the last three months shows the incredible momentum that this campaign has picked up in only a short time, and is a testament to what the people of Northeast Queens want in an elected official: an independent, reform-minded leader who is not beholden to any lobbyists or special interests.”
Regardless of their reasons, Saffran will have to work hard to rebuild his name recognition if he wants to remain competitive in the general election. In the meantime, the campaign will take place in the backyard of the Queens GOP, which has to count for something – especially considering they are spending a ton of cash energizing the base to come out for the Primary so hopefully they won’t forget by November when Saffran will need them.