We aren’t surprised to see the Obama-Romney race for the White House get dirty, but we weren’t expecting to see mudslinging in the race to represent northeast Queens in the state Senate.
From the start, John Messer, an Oakland Gardens lawyer, was an underdog. Even though he had challenged Sen. Toby Stavisky back in 2010, he lacked name recognition. Stavisky, on the other hand, is a familiar figure after six terms in office.
Messer tried to win the uphill race by taking the low road with tactics that overshadowed discussion of the positions taken by the two candidates.
In the early days of the campaign, Messer bypassed a city agency and went to the Queens Supreme Court to charge that Stavisky obtained fraudulent signatures to get on the ballot.
A Democratic Senate candidate needs 1,000 signatures from registered party members in the district to get onto the ballot. Stavisky had 7,000 signatures collected by 130 individuals assigned by the Queens Democratic Party, which backed Stavisky.
As the rhetoric from both camps grew uglier, Messer insisted it was not a grudge match between him and Stavisky but was being fought on the issues. Then he went on to say he was determined to take down a political family who had been in power for 46 years, a reference to Stavisky and her late husband, who represented the district before her.
Stavisky had her own mud to throw. She criticized Messer for his ties to former Republican City Councilman Dennis Gallagher, who was convicted of sexual assault. She said Messer “deals with criminals,” referring to the consulting firm hired by Messer and associated with Gallagher.
Messer’s mud didn’t stick: Stavisky won easily.
In the 25th state Assembly District primary, Nily Rozic defeated her Democratic Party-backed opponent Jerry Iannece. Rozic used a picture of herself with Assemblywoman Grace Meng in fliers even though Meng had endorsed Iannece. It appeared to be a calculated move in a district that includes Bayside and has a large number of Asian voters.
Rozic, a former chief of staff for Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, was practically unknown in Queens. It’s possible this misleading picture made the difference in that race.