By Rebecca Henely
Community activist Francisco Moya bested former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate nearly two-to-one in last week’s Democratic primary, but was his win due to voters liking Moya or disliking Monserrate?
Michael Krasner, political science professor at Queens College, said it was most likely a combination of both.
“I think Moya is also perceived as a good soldier,” Krasner said. “Someone who does good work, has good positions on the issues.”
Moya, a former secretary to the Senate under Gov. David Paterson, took 67 percent of the vote in his race against Monserrate for the empty 39th Assembly District seat, which had been left vacant after Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) won Monserrate’s old seat in the Senate in a March special election.
Monserrate was ejected from his Senate seat in February after being convicted of misdemeanor assault for dragging his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, through the lobby of his apartment building.
Moya will face Republican Humberto Suarezmotta in the general election.
Krasner called Moya’s win against Monserrate “very much expected,” saying Monserrate seemed to be thoroughly discredited with many because of the assault, except for his die-hard supporters. He also said Moya had the county party support. Moya picked up numerous campaign contributions and endorsements from elected officials, including state Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo.
“Moya had the backing of County, which still counts a lot in elections that matter,” Krasner said.
Yet Monserrate still received a third of the vote, which Krasner said could be partly attributable to his race. Monserrate is of Puerto Rican heritage and was the first Latino elected to public office in Queens.
“There are probably some Puerto Ricans who stuck with him because of ethnic loyalty,” Krasner said.
He also said some voters may have done so because Monserrate helped them during his time in office, either in the Senate or City Council, which he was a part of from 2002-08.
“Any incumbent builds up followers,” Krasner said. “Any incumbent does favors.”
Conversely, race may have also been a factor in Moya’s win, Krasner said. As an Ecuadorian, Moya most likely received support from that community as well as broad Hispanic support.
Krasner said Moya also seemed to be an honorable person in general.
“My understanding is that Moya has some history as an activist in the community and I think that probably put him in good stead as well,” Krasner said.
About 17 percent of registered Democrats in the 39th Assembly District, covers Corona, Elmhurst and parts of Jackson Heights, according to the state Board of Elections.
Krasner said the turnout, the highest among the borough’s contested races, according to a TimesLedger analysis, was about average for a primary election, with 10 percent or less being a bad turnout and 20 percent being a good turnout.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4564.