By Bill Parry
The race was too close to call Tuesday between City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) and her Republican challenger Bob Holden in a rematch of the Democratic primary, which she won easily by 64 percent to 36 percent.
With 97.2 percent of the vote counted, Holden, a registered Democrat for 44 years who ran on the Republican Party line in the general election, captured 50.1 percent of the vote. Crowley had 49.9 percent.
As of 11 p.m. Holden had a 32-vote lead over Crowley out of the 19,154 votes cast, according to unofficial results from WNYC. He also ran on the Conservative, Reform and Dump de Blasio lines.
At her party at Woodhaven House, Crowley said it was impossible to call the election Tuesday night.
“We’ll fight in the morning,” she told her supporters.
About 40 Holden supporters gathered at Connelly’s in Maspeth where the mood was very optimistic.
Even though Holden leads by a narrow margin, there are still several hundred absentee ballots to be counted.
When Holden announced his run in April, the retired college professor said the Queens Democratic Machine would throw everything they had at him and he was ready for “their smear tactics.” The longtime president of the powerful Juniper Valley Civic Association had been an ardent critic of Crowley and her cousin, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), the leader of the Queens Democratic Party, from the pages of Juniper Berry, the organization’s quarterly publication.
The two campaigns became divisive, and sometimes incendiary, almost immediately. Crowley’s negative campaign literature began circulating comparing Holden to Grandpa Simpson of “The Simpsons” and ripping his connections to the Republican Party. In an interview with TimesLedger Newspapers in mid-September, Holden accused Crowley of having a “lack of representation and competence,” adding he knew “he could do a better job than her.”
During Crowley’s interview that same day, she told TimesLedger Holden “was dysfunctional and delusional,” and “he’s much more aligned with the party of Donald Trump than with the party I identify with.”
When Holden accepted the Republican Party line, she called it a “bait and switch.” Holden said he would be “crazy not to accept it,” knowing he had the support among Republicans and Conservatives in Middle Village and Maspeth where he has served the community for 30 years. District 30 is much larger than those two neighborhoods, and in the neighborhoods of Glendale, Ridgewood and Woodhaven he was something of an unknown entity.
After voting at Maspeth High School Tuesday morning, Holden cited the “grueling, nasty, dirty” tenor of the campaign, calling his quest for the office “the biggest challenge in my life.”
After voting at PS 113 in Glendale, Crowley spent the afternoon doing voter outreach across the street from PS 49 in Middle Village, where she shrugged off Holden’s lament.
“We had a good turnout. I think the voters are excited about coming out. They know already who they’re voting for,” Crowley said. “I’ve been discussing the things I’m proud of, the work that I’ve done, my record and the challenges that we still face and how I have a plan to make this city and this community a better place to live and raise a family.”
Holden thanked the 80 volunteers of his grassroots campaign that he ran out of the garage behind his Maspeth home, saying he will “forever be indebted to them” for their support as well as the rest of the community.
“You get people yelling from cars and waving at you and that’s just great. Win or lose, I think I’m coming out the winner in all this because it really validates the efforts I’ve made over the decades in the neighborhood and people are so appreciative,” he said.
In other races in western Queens City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) defeated Republican challenger Marvin Jeffcoat of Woodside by 85 to 15 percent with all the precincts counted, while City Councilman Costa Constantinides defeated Dive In candidate Kathleen Springer of Astoria by 93 percent to 7 percent.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr