Today’s news:

Political season heats up with U.S. Senate, House races

TimesLedger Newspapers

The political races are beginning to gel. The campaigns are starting to form their strategies that they hope will result in a winner for their respective candidates. What would normally be a mild campaign season is turning out to be a rather riveting winner-take-all contest.

On April 4, George Maragos, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Kirsten Gillibrand, held a fund-raiser at a lovely restaurant named Limani on Northern Boulevard in Roslyn, L.I. It was hosted by AHEPA, the largest Greek-American group in the world. It was a successful fund-raiser, with many important, powerful Greek community members coming out to support one of their own.

Every time I hear George, he sounds better and there is a lot to be said for practice makes perfect. George, as you know, is the Nassau County comptroller, and to his credit he has managed to balance Nassau’s budget every year, reduce borrowing by 75 percent, shrink the size of Nassau’s government and all of this with no tax increases. Those are big pluses for a candidate, considering the financial crisis we find ourselves in. Good luck, George.

Last Thursday evening, the Queens Village Republican Clubs speakers were Wendy Long, who is also running for Gillibrand’s seat. That was the first time I have heard her speak. She was scheduled to speak at both the February and March meetings of the Queens Conservative Club. She had to cancel both, so naturally I was anxious to hear her.

She makes an attractive appearance and promoted all the correct conservative points of view. The Conservative Party has endorsed her and given her its line. Either Wendy was tired after a long day or we were both tired, but it seemed to me her speech, though intelligent and well-informed, was rather flat. No fire in the belly, but to be fair you cannot judge a person’s worth on the strength of one speech alone. I am scheduled to hear her speak again next week, which may give a more accurate point of view. Good luck, Wendy.

Up until now, I haven’t had the opportunity to see the third person Bob Turner, who is also vying for Gillibrand’s seat, and hear his reasons for running and why he believes he is the best candidate for the Senate. As soon as I have the opportunity to hear him, I will fill you in on the details of his campaign. Good luck, Bob.

The other speaker at the QVRC was City Councilman Dan Halloran.

When Dan heard that U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman was not going to run for re-election, Halloran decided to throw his hat in the ring for Ackerman’s congressional seat. Halloran will not have a Republican or Conservative primary, but he will have to face whoever wins the Democratic primary. The Democratic candidates are Elizabeth Crowley, Rory Lancman and Grace Meng.

Since Ackerman’s decision was totally unexpected and on short notice, it didn’t give any of the candidates trying to replace him much time to get a “rock star” campaign together. The real fun will begin after the primary, when it will be Halloran vs. the Democratic primary winner.

If you are into local Queens politics and “all politics is local,” you will have an interesting summer and fall to look forward to.

We hope our readers had either a happy Easter or happy Passover, whichever is apropos. Wasn’t Sunday a beautiful day for a holiday? Both holidays produced a slow news week, which is why our column is shorter than usual this week.

And I hate to rain on everyone’s parade, but just a gentle reminder that the income tax filing date is now due. I hope you have all your ducks in a row.

I look forward to your voicemails at 718-767-6484, faxes at 718-746-0066 and e-mails at deerrichard@aol.com.

Till next week, Dee.

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