With only a few days remaining until the March 16 Special Election for State Senate District 13, Assemblymember Jose Peralta and former State Senator Hiram Monserrate are both projecting confidence, while acknowledging there is more work to be done.
“We feel very confident, but at the same time we don’t want to take anything for granted,” said Peralta, who many view as the favorite in the race, which also includes Republican nominee Robert Beltrani.
Doug Muzzio, a political science professor at Baruch College, said that he expects the turnout in this Special Election to be low – a characteristic of most Special Elections. However, he believes that because of the media attention around Monserrate’s criminal case and Senate expulsion, turnout on March 16 will likely be higher than a normal Special Election.
“Whoever gets the vote out in a low turnout election will win,” Muzzio said.
Monserrate, who was expelled from the from the State Senate by a 53-8 margin on February 9, has been spending the last few weeks knocking on doors every morning and night, reaching out to voters to ask for their support on March 16.
“I feel that the people are with him,” said Mike Nieves, Monserrate’s campaign manager. “There’s strong voter name recognition within the voters in our district.”
However, Peralta believes that the name recognition that Monserrate’s campaign often touts, which has been the subject of many media reports, is not necessarily a good thing.
“The stories just say he has a lot of name recognition, but what they fail to mention is that the voters say they are supporting me,” Peralta said.
Nieves said that Monserrate’s campaign is not going to reinvent the wheel during the last week leading up to the Special Election and instead focus on getting his base supporters out to vote.
“We have greater name recognition and a greater voter history within this district,” Nieves said.
While Monserrate is campaigning, his legal team still has their eyes set on March 12 – the day that the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit will hear oral arguments in a suit filed by Monserrate and six voters in his district claiming his expulsion from the State Senate was unconstitutional.
Norman Siegel, an attorney who is representing Monserrate in the case, said he hopes the judge would issue a ruling prior to March 16 because one of Monserrate’s arguments is that he should be returned to office and the Special Election should be invalid.
Meanwhile, Beltrani, who many believe does not have a legitimate chance of winning or even coming remotely close in the Democrat-dominated district, said he will spend the next few days making sure Republicans and Independents come out to support him. In addition, he said he will appeal to voters who are tired of the dysfunction in Albany.
“They [Peralta and Monserrate] are part of the dysfunction,” Beltrani said. They’re part problem. It’s time to move on.”
Peralta, who spent Saturday, March 6 campaigning in the district with elected officials from around the borough, said he will have an army of more than 100 volunteers – from throughout New York State – in his district on March 16.
“There are a lot of people interested in this race because they know this is the beginning of bringing stability back to Albany,” Peralta.
Peralta believes that voters should ultimately choose him over Monserrate because his ability to work well with Senate and Assembly colleagues and subsequently bring back funding for the district.
“At the end of the day, it’s not about Hiram Monserrate or myself, it’s about the community,” Peralta said.
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