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Addabbo defeats Ulrich in key state Senate race

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State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, joined by his wife Dawn (l.), talks with constituents while casting his vote at in Ozone Park. Photo by Ken Maldonado
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Councilman Eric Ulrich (r.) enters the PS 63 with his wife Yadira.
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State Sen. Joseph Addabbo speaks to poll workers at JHS 202 in Ozone Park as he prepares to cast his ballot.
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Councilman Eric Ulrich greets constituents in Ozone Park. Photo by Christina Santucci
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State Sen. Joseph Addabbo signs in to vote as he is joined by his wife Dawn at JHS 202 in Ozone Park. Photo by Ken Maldonado
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Councilman Eric Ulrich arrives in Ozone Park with his wife Yadira (l.) to vote. Photo by Christina Santucci

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) beat back a strong Republican challenge and held onto his seat with a decisive victory to win a second term, according to unofficial results from NY 1.

The race pitted the incumbent against a 27-year-old rising star in the state Republican Party, City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), who had taken control of Addabbo’s City Council seat in a special election just three years ago.

With 97 percent of the vote counted, Addabbo had 57 percent of the ballots cast to 42 percent for Ulrich, based on NY I’s tabulation.

The race was one of the most expensive and closely watched in the state, with Republicans vying to hold onto their slim majority in Albany.

The 15th State Senate District covers Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Glendale, Middle Village, Woodhaven, Maspeth and parts of South Ozone Park, Rego Park, Ridgewood and Sunnyside.

The state Republican Senate Committee poured money into Ulrich’s campaign, with a donation of $250,000 in April and transfers of hundreds of thousands more in September and October.

Meanwhile, state Democrats rallied hard behind Addabbo, who racked up important endorsements from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

But campaigning by both candidates halted entirely in the last days leading up to the election as Hurricane Sandy ravaged southern Queens and efforts were turned entirely to helping with the recovery.

Turnout in the district was expected to be low because many voters were in areas hit hard by the storm and without power and transportation. Several polling stations also had to be moved to other areas because floodwaters damaged the original sites.

Ulrich had blasted the city Board of Elections and the Queens County Democratic Committee for not doing more to help facilitate voting in the ravaged areas in the Rockaways while he was at PS 63 on Sutter Avenue in Ozone Park to cast his own vote Tuesday.

“Haven’t people suffered enough in that community?” he said.

Throughout his campaign, Addabbo maintained he was a strong leader who had a record of standing up for workers and families during tough fiscal situations as both a state senator in 2009 and a city councilman in 2002. He said when the state was facing a $17 billion deficit in 2009, he still managed to protect essential services while making $6 billion in spending cuts.

Meanwhile, Ulrich insisted that Addabbo’s economic record was not strong enough, often charging the senator voted to raise taxes 124 times in 2009, and it was time for a change. He portrayed himself as an independent leader in the City Council and pledged to buck his party on issues such as raising the minimum wage.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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