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Gennaro predicts Democratic takeover of state Senate

Though polls are swinging in favor of presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D−Ill.) and Democratic candidates running for Congress across the country, state Sen. Frank Padavan (R−Bellerose) said he doubts any national trend will have an impact on his bid for re−election against City Councilman Jim Gennaro (D−Fresh Meadows).

“Last time I checked, there were 88,000 registered Democrats and 32,000 registered Republicans, but in this part of the world, people make a distinction between the party and the person,” said Padavan, who has represented the 11th Senate District since 1972. “They vote for the individual and his or her record of achievement. It isn’t the party that counts.”

Gennaro, however, said the increase in Democratic voters — 4,100 district residents have registered Democratic since July, compared to 711 newly registered Republicans — and the momentum surrounding Obama, who has a solid lead in New York, could help him oust Padavan from the Senate seat he has held for 36 years.

“This is an election on two levels,” Gennaro said. “This is Jim Gennaro vs. Frank Padavan, but it’s also a contest between keeping the old, failed Republican leadership that caters to upstate and the suburbs at the expense of New York City and a new Democratic leadership that will be New York City−based. That’s why this race is so exciting.”

The election will determine whether the Republican state senators will hang on to their one−seat majority in the Senate or if Democrats will claim the majority for the first time since 1965.

“When you have the entire state government — the governor, the Senate and the Assembly — being one party, I don’t think that serves the best interest of the people in the state or the city,” Padavan said. “It eliminates the possibility of control of excesses and disenfranchises parts of the population.”

The governor is a Democrat and the Assembly is controlled by Democrats.

With just days to go before voters head to the polls, the candidates have been crisscrossing the area in a mad dash to knock on as many residents’ doors and tout new endorsements.

“We’ll be going everywhere we can and meeting people out in the shopping centers and railroad stations,” Padavan said. “We’ll be doing what we’ve been doing all along.”

Both candidates have boasted of recent endorsements, with the Republican and Democrat saying each new organization that lends its support to their campaigns helps to nudge them a little closer to victory.

Most recently, Padavan has been endorsed by the United Federation of Teachers, the Citizens Union and 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. NARAL Pro−Choice New York, the Planned Parenthood of New York City Action Fund and New York ChoicePac threw their support behind the Gennaro campaign last week.

On Tuesday, Gennaro unveiled his economic plan, which included funneling more money from Albany to the city, “cutting government waste, inefficiency and fraud,” promoting alternative and green energy, pushing for green manufacturing and construction and renewing the commuter tax.

Gennaro, a two−term councilman, criticized Padavan, who was elected in 1972, for not having detailed a “comprehensive economic plan.”

“My opponent might think, like his choice for president, [U.S. Sen.] John McCain [R−Ariz.], that the fundamentals of our economy are strong,” Gennaro said. “We have a real problem that requires real leadership, not the status quo.”

Padavan shot back and said he has a plan to deal with the upcoming state budget deficit, including addressing the approximate 30,000 individuals who are receiving Medicaid benefits from New York, but do not live in the state anymore, according to data from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

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