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Markey, Nunziato set to face off in Assembly fight

As the 2008 campaign reaches its final days, a two−term state assemblywoman will square off against a well−known preservationist to keep her seat in western Queens’ 30th District.

Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D−Maspeth), whose district covers Maspeth, Woodside and parts of Long Island City, Middle Village, Astoria and Sunnyside, leads her opponent, Tony Nunziato, in fund−raising, although Nunziato has been more visible in the press.

Markey had raised $51,181 as of Monday, according to the state Elections Board. She has spent $25,840, the largest expenditure being $3,600 to the Flushing Postmaster for campaign mailings.

Nunziato raised $35,308, Elections Board records show. He has spent $20,980, including $10,000 given to the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, his largest expenditure by far.

Markey touted her experience as the deciding factor in economically unstable times.

“The fact that I’ve been in the Assembly for 10 years and I’ve delivered on legislation and funding to my district, I think it’s very important ... with the economic crisis we’re facing,” she said.

Nunziato, who has run a florist shop in Maspeth for 25 years, said the economy was his first priority.

“As a homeowner and small businessman, I know how hard families struggle to make ends meet,” he said, proposing legislation to reduce the tax burden on middle− and working−class families.

The candidates will not formally debate before Tuesday. Nunziato, who has long been involved in the Juniper Park Civic Association, was scheduled to appear at the club’s debate night Thursday at Our Lady of Hope in Middle Village. But Markey said she has an education meeting that night and will not be able to attend.

Nunziato said he was optimistic about his chances against a Democratic incumbent in the current political climate.

“Most people I know vote for the right person, not necessarily the party line,” he said.

Markey was elected in 1998. She was previously director of marketing and tourism for former Borough President Claire Shulman. She also helped found Maspeth Town Hall in 1972, making a community center out of a former police station.

She has received the endorsement of U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D−N.Y.) and Hillary Clinton (D−N.Y.).

“Marge has an outstanding record of getting results for her district and she is an effective voice for Queens and New York City in the Legislature,” Clinton said.

Markey has also received endorsements from U.S. Reps. Joseph Crowley (D−Jackson Heights), Carolyn Maloney (D−Astoria), Nydia Velazquez (D−Ridgewood) and Anthony Weiner (D−Forest Hills).

The Juniper Park Civic has slammed Markey in the past for voting to repeal the commuter tax in 1999, a move it said cost the city billions of dollars over the next decade.

Markey said economic times were different in 1999 than today and touted legislation that she said brought billions of dollars into the city over the last 10 years.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

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