After 38 years, the 11th Senate District will have new State Senator.
Popular Republican incumbent Frank Padavan lost to former two-time Democratic Councilmember Tony Avella in a down-to-the-wire race that many may consider to be a mild upset. Avella never lost the lead while the results were being processed and said that people were ready for a change during his victory speech.
“Not only did we beat a 38-year incumbent, we beat a popular 38-year incumbent,” said Avella, who had a laundry list of people to thank, from the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) to his campaign workers. “This was your election.”
Since taking office in 1972, Padavan had always had the support of the UFT, but the teachers union of 7,000 members in 11th Senate District reportedly supported Avella for his strong independent voice.
“As soon as the UFT came on board, I knew it was a winning combination,” said Avella during his victory party at Sullivan’s in Bayside.
Avella tallied 25,864 votes to Padavan’s 22,781; an enormous difference from Padavan’s 2008 victory over James F. Gennaro when Padavan accumulated 45,294 votes during what was a Presidential election year.
During debates and in the press, Avella repeatedly mentioned that 38 years in office is too long for any elected official. Padavan spoke to reporters at Bourbon Street on Bell Boulevard in Bayside and said that he had a lot to be proud of.
“That’s politics,” said volunteer Carol Landess, a Padavan supporter who blamed a strong anti-incumbent attitude for the loss. “He’s got plenty of energy. He’s still willing and able.”
Throughout the race, each candidate had some mud to sling. Avella painted Padavan as a problem the voters sent to Albany for too long and as anti-woman’s rights. Padavan insisted that Avella give back alleged crooked funds provided by Democratic Senate Campaign Committee while they were under investigation by the Inspector General.
Padavan was quietly optimistic when he voted at PS 178 earlier in the day calling himself a candidate of “credibility, integrity, honesty and common sense.” He also noted that he was running on long record of achievement in Queens, shortly after he cast his ballot at 1 p.m.
In attendance at Avella’s victory party were Councilmember Mark Weprin, Assemblymember Grace Meng and State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. For Padavan, the loss signals the end of an era for the long-standing Republican.
“We did it and everybody can take credit for it,” said Avella.