Incumbent Tony Avella wins state Senate race against John Liu

Photo courtesy of Anika Chowdury

State Sen. Tony Avella won the primary for the 11th state Senate district against his challenger John Liu in a hotly contested race Tuesday night.

Avella appeared at CJ Sullivan’s in Bayside at 10:30 p.m. that evening with his wife Judith to announce his victory to a room full of supporters and staffers.

“This victory happened because of all you guys,” he said to a roaring crowd. “It takes a lot of money to win. It shouldn’t be that way, but that’s how it is. I’ve never been with a better bunch of people who care about this state and I thank you all.”

According to unofficial results, with 95.4 percent of the precincts reporting, Avella had 6,813 votes, or 52.2 percent of the votes, and Liu received 6,245, or 47.8 percent. While Avella declared victory, Liu didn’t think he lost.

“I feel very proud about this campaign. I’m confident that the Board of Elections will get the fair results, no matter how long that takes,” Liu said.

After serving as city councilman for Queens from 2002 to 2009, Avella stepped down to run an unsuccessful campaign for mayor in 2009. He ran and won for state senator the following year.

Avella has represented the area for 12 years and received several endorsements, including police and fire unions and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Avella kicked off primary day in the morning by voting in P.S. 184 Flushing Manor.

“Our support has been incredibly positive and when the polls close, we are confident that our campaign will be victorious,” Avella said earlier in the evening. “Voters understand that this race boils down to which candidate they trust to uphold this office with honor and integrity, and John Liu doesn’t pass the laugh test on either account.”

On issues like airplane noise and property taxes, the two agree.

But during the race, Liu sold himself as a “real Democrat” and criticized Avella for joining the Independent Democratic Caucus (IDC). During debates, Liu argued that Avella prevented major legislation — like increasing the minimum wage — in New York from being passed by creating an alliance with Republican state senators.

Avella’s choice to join the IDC led the Queens Country Democrats to convince Liu to run against him, according to the New York Daily News. During a debate in Flushing this summer, Avella responded to Liu’s criticism and said that he joined the IDC to pass important legislation by working with both parties instead of getting caught up in internal political battles.

Because of Avella’s decision to join the IDC, Liu received the backing of the Queens Democratic Party and most of its elected officials as well as several unions. Despite all of this support, Avella still won the race.



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