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Padavan won race, but faced factors never encountered before

The election for the 11th Senate District has finally come to an end, with incumbent state Sen. Frank Padavan (R−Bellerose) being declared the victor by a narrow margin of 480 votes. It was a long struggle between Padavan and City Councilman James Gennaro (D−Fresh Meadows).

The legislative situation in Albany, however, will be vastly different from past years, considering that the Democrats are now in the majority in the Senate by a margin of 32−30, with Malcolm Smith (D−St. Albans) as the majority leader.

In the 36 years Padavan has served in this legislative body, this will be the first time the Republicans have not been in the Senate majority, which also means the Democratic Party will, for the present legislative session, control the governorship and the Legislature. Padavan believes that situation is not good in terms of preserving the two−party system.

Pertaining to the recent district campaign, Padavan ran on his record, but factors in this campaign were not present in his past successful races. In recent elections in which Padavan had a viable opponent, he won in 2000 by a margin of 62 percent to 38 percent over Democrat Rory Lancman, who now represents the 25th Assembly District.

Padavan also won by a decisive margin in 2006, 60 percent to 40 percent, against Attorney Nora Marino of the Working Families Party. In both these cases, Padavan’s two opponents in 2000 and 2006 were not incumbent office holders, did not have wide name recognition and lacked the financial resources necessary to wage a strongly competitive race.

Last year, however, the State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee targeted the 11th Senate District. Gennaro is an incumbent Council member who has served seven years and had never been defeated in an election. Gennaro was known for his hard−hitting campaigns.

Padavan indicated he ran on his record, but this past year he faced obstacles not encountered in past races, including what he referred to as a negative campaign by his opponent. He was outspent and faced a massive increase in the number of registered voters in his district, which brought a huge increase in the number of votes cast, benefitting his opponent.

In addition, Padavan pointed out that President Barack Obama received 70 percent of all the votes cast in his district, which helped the entire Democratic ticket.

Gennaro seemed to rely on a well−organized, paid staff, while Padavan relied mostly on volunteers to run his campaign, a fact Padavan is proud of. As in past years, Padavan served as his own campaign manager. It is not known if Gennaro will be running again next year for the state Senate, or if he will concentrate on his campaign for re−election to the Council. It is doubtful Gennaro will try to run for both elective offices.

On Feb. 15, Padavan was officially sworn into office by Judge Robert Hanophy at Holy Cross High School in Flushing. There were more than 800 people in attendance who showed their support. This demonstrated that Padavan still maintains a strong base in northeast Queens.

In the near future, Padavan intends to concentrate on improving medical and educational benefits. He believes there is fraud in Medicaid that is costing taxpayers funds that could better be applied to health care priorities. He believes too much emphasis is being given to preparation for standardized testing in public schools, rather than learning the total subject matter. He wants more input by PTAs regarding education policy.

Regarding the recent controversy over paper ballots, Padavan indicated that more effort should be made to protect the integrity of the electoral system. In summarizing his recent campaign experience, Padavan said, “I never have been more energized by the support of people who have contacted me recently. It has been heartwarming.”

Next year, the State Senate Republican Campaign Committee will be making every effort to win back control of that body. It will be another hard−fought battle, and the 11th Senate District will play a major role in that battle.

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