Two weeks ago, former City Councilmember Tony Avella formally announced he was running for State Senate against Senator Frank Padavan. Avella left the City Council last year to run an unsuccessful race against Comptroller William Thompson in the Democratic mayoral primary.
Padavan has a legendary reputation for providing stellar constituent services via his district office staff and for political independence. A well-known New York Times profile described the Senator as doing what he believes is in the best interest of the community, without regard to partisanship or special interests.
In 2008, Padavan narrowly beat City Councilmember James Gennaro by 380 votes. However, those results should not be viewed as any indication that Padavan is vulnerable.
In fact, Padavan received around 18,000 more votes than John McCain did. This statistic demonstrates Padavan’s ability to earn the support of Democrats and independents and why he has been elected 19 times in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans over two-and-a-half to one.
The 2008 election was the most Democratic election year since Lyndon Johnson’s landslide over Barry Goldwater in 1964. If Democrats could not knock off Padavan then, it seems unlikely they could this year, when conditions will not be anywhere near as favorable for them.
Midterm electorates tend to be older and less diverse than those in presidential years are. These voters are likely to favor Padavan since they are familiar with his record and have been accustomed to voting for him for many years.
Avella’s old councilmanic district encompasses some of Padavan’s strongest areas in the neighborhoods of Whitestone, Bayside and Douglaston, where the Senator has often received over 70 percent of the vote in certain areas.
Padavan, of course, will take nothing for granted, and expect Avella to run a vigorous race. In fact, the Senator is expected to open a campaign office on Bell Boulevard sometime this spring. This race will certainly be one to watch in 2010.
Daniel Egers serves on the staff of Councilmember Dan Halloran, is executive director of the Queens County Republican Party, a Trustee of the Bayside Historical Society, president of the Friends of Oakland Lake, and was an aide to Senator Frank Padavan from 2006 to 2009. The views expressed in this column are his own.