Will Queens go all blue this November?
The general election later this year probably won’t excite many voters.
The Republicans won’t be fielding many competitive candidates in the numerous City Council seats that will be open this year thanks to term limits. The Democrats who won their primaries will likely have a cakewalk into office.
As for citywide races, there are Republican candidates for mayor, public advocate and comptroller, with mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa enjoying the greatest name recognition.
However, as we pointed out last week, Eric Adams is basically being treated like the next mayor of New York City already, so it’s unlikely the Guardian Angels founder and radio show host is going to stand much of a chance in November.
Although, perhaps voter apathy will help the GOP. Given the overwhelming advantage Democrats have over Republicans in registered voters, Democratic voters failing to show up to the polls because they think the race is already won might be the Republicans only chance at victory.
Doubtful, but it’s a longshot.
We caught Tony Avella at an event recently during which he referred to Assemblyman Ed Braunstein as his “colleague in government” before rightfully checking himself. Avella only won the Democratic Primary for his old City Council seat in northeast Queens, and as such isn’t in government yet.
Avella actually has a Republican challenger in Vickie Paladino, who knows how to run a competent campaign and has already been engaging with voters because she actually had a challenger in the Republican Primary.
But while Avella was in office, he appealed to voters of both parties because he focused primarily on quality-of-life issues facing his constituents and steered clear of party politics, that is until he joined the Independent Democratic Conference in Albany, a group of renegade state senators who caucused with Republicans.
That decision became part of his downfall when progressive groups campaigned hard against him and helped get John Liu elected.
Now that he has won the primary, he is out there focusing on the issues that always helped him get elected. He recently called on the city to fix the roads in College Point, the LIRR to shut down a noisy Bayside rail yard, and we hear he is going to be calling attention to a controversial land issue soon.
If he sticks to that playbook, it’s going to hard for Paladino to make any headway with voters.
Another race worth paying attention to is in south Queens, where Councilman Eric Ulrich – the lone Republican elected official left in the borough – is term-limited out of office.
Felicia Singh won the Democratic Primary, and she will face off against Joann Ariola, who is also chair of the Queens County Republican Party. The district leans conservative, and some voters, even Democrats, might see Singh as too progressive.
There are pockets across Queens where Democrats have no problem voting for a Republican if they prefer the candidate, and south Queens is one of them. Ariola could benefit from that tendency.
But there is a monkey wrench in the race. Kenichi Wilson was kicked off the ballot in the Democratic Primary after a supporter of fellow candidate Mike Scala challenged his petition signatures.
The Board of Elections validated his signatures and said he could remain on the ballot, but the same supporter filed a peremptory lawsuit with the state before that decision, which kept him off the ballot for good.
During the whole process, Wilson incurred tens of thousands in legal fees, much of which he paid with matching funds from the city. If he didn’t run in either the primary or general election, he would have to pay all of that money back.
So partially to stay out of debt and partially to run for the seat he intended to from the start, he formed his own third party. Wilson will run on the Community First line this November.
Remember when we said conservative Democrats could be persuaded to vote for Ariola? That might not be the case with Wilson on the ballot. Those votes could go to him instead, hurting her chances.
As for Singh, some Democrats who don’t necessarily care for her but would never vote for a Republican, might instead vote for Wilson, which would hurt Singh’s chances.
It’s going to be interesting to see which candidate is effected most by Wilson’s decision to stay in the race.
And if Ariola and Paladino both lose, it means Queens will be all blue.