State Senator Tony Avella was defeated in the Democratic Primary in September by John Liu, but is still on the November ballot on the Independence and Women's Equity lines.
After the defeat, Avella kept a low-profile, but he eventually announced that he would continue to campaign and try to woo voters into casting their vote for him on the third-party lines.
“Although I was disappointed in the results of the Democratic Primary, I have been astounded by the level of support I have received since then from all aspects of our community,” he said in a statement early last month. “Families for Tony Avella, a grassroots group, has formed to promote my candidacy in the General Election.”
But not everyone is recognizing Avella's continuing campaign.
The Politic Affairs Committee of North Shore Towers, a gated residential co-op complex in Glen Oaks, was scheduled to host a forum and debate for the candidates in the local, state and federal elections on October 31, a day after this paper goes to press.
In a flier advertising the event, committee chair Felice Hannah wrote that “candidates from all parties appearing on the general election ballot will be invited to attend.”
Well, not quite “all” of the candidates.
Avella's campaign sent out a statement last week expressing its displeasure that he will not be invited to the forum. According to the statement, a person working on his campaign reached out to Hannah, but “she stated that only the Democrat and Republican candidates are invited to the forum and promptly hung up on Senator Avella’s campaign.”
A campaign spokesperson called on the residents of North Shore Towers to demand that Avella be invited to the forum, touting the work he has done on behalf of co-op owners while in office.
“Senator Avella has represented the North Shore Towers community for eight years in the Senate,” the spokesperson said. “He has fought to lower property taxes for co-op and condo owners, including passage into law of an increase in the J-51 tax break for capital repairs.”
Again, the forum was scheduled to take place the day after this paper goes to press, so it's possible Avella could be a last-minute addition...or he could just crash the event.
This State Senate race is one that is going to be hard to predict. Every candidate that was on the ballot for both the Democratic and GOP primaries is still on the ballot for the General Election. That means there are, effectively, two Republicans and two Democrats running, even though half of them will be listed on different party lines.
It's unclear how many voters will migrate down ballot and cast their vote for Avella, although there is some recent precedent to examine.
Last year, Paul Graziano came close to defeating Councilman Paul Vallone in the Democratic Primary. He fell just short, getting 46 percent of the votes.
But Graziano was still on the ballot for the General Election on the Reform Party line, along with Konstantinos Poulidis on the Republican line.
You would think that the nearly half of Democratic voters who supported Graziano in the primary would still support him in the General Election
That would, theoretically, leave it up to voters who aren't registered in a political party, and therefore couldn't vote in the primary, and some Republicans who might cross party lines to decide the race.
Instead, Vallone cruised to victory with 60 percent of the vote. Poulidis, who ran almost no credible campaign, received 25 percent of the vote, while Graziano was only able to muster 18 percent.
In that case, the urge to vote on the Democratic line was either just too strong, or the people who supported Graziano in the primary stayed home for the general.
Unlike Graziano, though, Avella has well over a decade of experience in public office, so has a record and base of support he has been able to cultivate. It will be interesting to see how this election plays out, as turnout is expected to be unusually high.
Meanwhile, Avella admitted to a reporter shortly after he announced his intent to keep running that his campaign was, for all intents and purposes, out of money. He's been working to change that. On October 27, he hosted a birthday event for supporters that raised over $15,000 for his campaign.