By William Lewis

The 15th state Senate District, in western Queens, was represented by Republican Sen. Serf Maltese for more than 20 years during his 10 terms in office up to 2008, when City Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) won the seat.

It is interesting to note that during the same 20-year period, the 11th Senate District, in northeast Queens, was represented by Republican Frank Padavan, who held the office for 38 years before former Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) won the office in 2010. In some political quarters, these two elections were considered upsets.

Since the Democratic Party controls the state Assembly by a large margin, the Republicans every two years make a determined effort to gain and maintain control of the Senate. This year, an almost unique situation is developing with a Republican primary election in the 30th Senate District between attorney Juan Reyes and City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park).

The official Republican county organization has endorsed Reyes over Ulrich, since Ulrich has refused to appear before its screening committee to obtain its support, in addition to his continued criticism of the county organization. Ulrich does, however, seem to have the support of most of the Republican Senate leadership at this time.

Besides the Republican primary, Ulrich is also involved in an Independence Party primary for the Senate. He is campaigning in two primaries, but it is the Republican primary that seems to be getting the most interest in the news media.

Reyes, who in 1996 worked on the Robert Dole campaign for the U.S. presidency, also served in the Giuliani administration. He has pointed out political differences between himself and Ulrich by bringing attention to his opponent’s voting record in the Council.

Reyes has charged that Ulrich has a voting record similar to Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan). For example, in 2009 Ulrich voted to increase taxes on unincorporated businesses (SLR 0013); to increase fines on drivers from $5 to $250 (Intro. 947); and for online sales taxes for hotel reservations (Intro 1012).

Reyes also indicated that Ulrich voted to increase costs for parking garages (Intro 780) in 2009, and that Ulrich voted for racial quotas in state contracts (RES 1773).

In terms of voting for city funds, Reyes indicated that Ulrich voted to spend more than $18 million on funding liberal groups, including Exodus Service for Newly Released Felons — more than $153,000 — and $205,000 for the Queens Gay Pride Committee.

This is an important primary from the viewpoint that the Queens Republican Party had, over a little more than 30 years ago, six Assembly members and now it has none. This is a year that at the national level will determine the direction of our national government. It is a year that shows much discontent with our nation’s economic situation, especially the scarcity of jobs.

Here in Queens, we have examples of the national trend in all areas, including education, jobs, social issues and foreign policy.

Returning to the 15th Senate race, in terms of ideals and issues, it will give us a good example as to which direction the Republican Party is going.

Will both major parties lead us in different directions or will they advocate similar paths for our nation?

It seems the Democratic Party is somewhat united in purpose, but there is conflict in the Republican Party as to what direction it should follow.

There are those Republican in Congress and in state and city government who believe they should compromise with their adversaries. There are also those, however, including Tea Party members, who believe our country was formed on a set of principles and should work to continue these principles and our way of life that has made our nation great, especially during the 20th century.

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