By Connor Adams Sheets
With the general election only two weeks away, the candidates vying to replace state Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside) are beginning to take shots at each other’s qualifications and backgrounds while working overtime to shake hands and reach out to voters.
The attacks come in a race in which the Democrat has raised nearly double the funds for his campaign as his Republican challenger.
Republican Vince Tabone, an attorney for John Catsimitidis’ Manhattan-based Red Apple Group, and Democrat Ed Braunstein, a former aide to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), reiterated their visions for New York while questioning those of their opponent’s in separate interviews this week.
Tabone has brought in $105,386, spending $24,756 while Braunstein has raised $206,242 since the start of the year, spending $193,615. Tabone said much of his remaining money will go toward a final push in the last two weeks of the campaign.
Tabone spent nearly half of his funds — $11,400 — on campaign literature, which he purchased from a variety of firms, according to campaign records. Another $4,860 went to fund-raisers at area restaurants like Il Toscano in Bayside and Maggie Mays and Bourbon Street in Bayside, according to the records.
Braunstein spent more on literature — $40,874 — than Tabone did on his entire campaign, most of which went to the company Multi Media, and spent $39,262 on consulting, with $35,262 going to the Parkside Group, the records show. He also spent nearly $20,000 each on printing and petitioning, according to the records.
Tabone, 44, a Bayside resident who worked for the city Economic Development Corp. and hammered Braunstein, 29, for his relative youth, said he does not have the experience needed to represent the district. He also contended that Braunstein’s close association with Silver makes him too close to Albany to change it.
“I’ve been paying real estate taxes almost longer than my opponent’s been alive, so I understand the struggles that working families are having in this environment as well as seniors on fixed incomes,” Tabone said Monday. “He seems like a nice young man, but he’s only had one job, and that has been working for Shelly Silver, who every newspaper board from The Wall Street Journal to The Village Voice say has been a leading impediment to fiscal responsibility and ethics reform.”
Braunstein, a lifelong Bayside resident and member of Community Board 11, said his experience with Silver’s office would not influence his decisions if he is elected and that he has made cleaning up Albany a central part of his platform.
“I did constituent services for Sheldon Silver in his downtown Manhattan office, I wasn’t up in Albany perpetuating what many consider are the current problems,” he said. “I’ve proven myself willing to take positions that are outside the status quo.”
Braunstein also shot back at Tabone, saying Tabone’s position as executive vice president of the Queens County Republican Party makes him unfit to consider himself an outsider and said his age and lack of extensive experience in politics are good things.
“Voters think it’s a big positive that Ed is an outsider and he’s not entrenched like Vince is,” Austin Finan, Braunstein’s campaign manager, said. “That’s how Vince made his living. He’s basically a party boss.”
Tabone countered that his years of service and understanding of the community will win when voters go to the polls.
“There will be a clear choice. They can vote for someone who has the public and private experience in the community, or they can vote for someone who represents a continuation of the politics-as-usual that has plagued Albany for the past many years.”
Carrozza, who was first elected to the Assembly in 1996, announced earlier this year that she would not run for re-election. Her district covers Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, College Point and Whitestone.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.