By Michaelle Bond and Francesca Trianni
On top of the presidential debate last week, Queens had its own debates in both the race for Senate District 15 and Congressional District 6. On Thursday, all four candidates covered by QueensCampaign.com participated in a packed debate at the Juniper Park Civic Association in Middle Village.
Senate District 15
The “livelier affair,” as the Daily News labeled it, was the Senate debate. Democratic incumbent Joe Addabbo and his Republican challenger, Eric Ulrich, confronted each other for the first time on their positions on same-sex marriage, among other topics.
Addabbo, who was criticised by his opponent for his vote in support of legalizing gay marriage in New York last year, said he voted yes to the bill last year because most of his constituents supported it. “It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do,” he said.
Capital New York reported that Addabbo also justified his vote as not being decisive for the outcome of the bill. “My vote was not the deciding vote,” he said. “Even if I did vote no, it still passes. So, I’m not the deciding vote and you have marriage equality because of [Republican Senate Leader] Dean Skelos and the four Republicans” who voted for it. You can find more details on the debate here or on our Twitter feed, @Queenscampaign.
Following the debate, the Queens Chronicle defined the race as “one of the most closely watched and possibly most expensive state legislative races in the country.”
Addabbo also picked up the endorsement of Democrat U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer. “The same sweet smile his father had, he has,” Schumer said at the endorsement, referring to Joe Addabbo Sr., who served in Congress for 13 terms. Schumer endorsed Addabbo while speaking in front of the Queens Community Center in Forest Hills. The QueensCourier reported that Forest Hills is a battleground for the two candidates. Ulrich has been trying to gain ground in the neighborhood, that has in the past voted for Addabbo, by campaigning there since this summer.
This week, the New York Times wrote about a rise in negative ads by independent groups in crucial state Senate districts, including District 15. Voters have seen attack ads flood their mailboxes in the past few weeks. The candidates addressed these concerns at Candidates’ Night in Ozone Park, as reported by QueensCampaign.com.
Congressional District 6
Democratic congressional candidate Grace Meng and her Republican challenger Dan Halloran faced off on immigration, health care and their records.
Some memorable quotes:
- Halloran on immigration: “I want us to be a melting pot; I don’t want us to be a mosaic.”
- Meng on her April, May and June attendance in Albany: “My mother yelled at me for missing so many sessions.”
- Halloran on his lack of legislation as a city councilman: “My legacy has been succeeding despite being a Republican in New York City.”
It’s been a busy week for Halloran. In an ad in the biweekly paper Queens Jewish Link, he appealed to voters who oppose President Obama’s Israel policy. The ad says Obama has a good chance of winning a second term and suggests that Halloran – if elected to Congress – will be the one to stop the president from creating a Palestinian state.
Halloran signed on to three of the four bills of the Community Safety Act, legislation that law enforcement officials say is a liability for police officers, according to City & State. In these bills, officers would need to identify themselves to the public and would need proof of consent for searches. The city would also establish an Inspector General’s office. This week, Halloran also announced his endorsement by the Fraternal Order of Police.
Meng is winning the cash race. According to a report by QueensCampaign reporter Jeff Morganteen, Meng has a significant advantage in both personal wealth and campaign fundraising with about two and a half weeks until Election Day. Halloran is holding a fundraiser Monday night in Oakland Gardens.