Maltese, Padavan Gear Up To Face Challengers

Shirley L. Huntley

January 24, 2008

Editorial feature in The Times Ledger
By Nathan Duke

State Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) has so far raised more money to retain his seat during this year's election than either of his two Democratic challengers following a slim victory in his 2006 re-election bid, according to the latest Campaign Finance Board filings.

Maltese will once again attempt to fend off Ozone Park private practice attorney Albert Baldeo after narrowly defeating the Guyanese-born Democrat in 2006. The senator may also face a new challenger, City Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), who has hinted at a run for the seat. The race is shaping up to be one of the most contentious in the borough.

Sen. Frank Padavan (D-Bellerose), the borough's other Republican state senator, is also expected to face at least one challenger during this fall's election when City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) is widely expected to run for the seat.

Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer has targeted Queens' two Republican senators as part of a campaign to gain control of the state Senate, where the GOP has a small four-seat majority.

City Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-Corona) is also expected to go for a rematch against state Sen. John Sabini (D-Jackson Heights) following his defeat in 2006.

Maltese, 74, has raised $214,245 since January 2007 for this fall's upcoming election during which the senator will attempt to hold onto his Albany seat for the 10th time since being elected to the Senate in 1988, Campaign Finance Board filings showed. The senator defeated Baldeo by a slim 900 votes during the 2006 Senate race.

Baldeo, whose campaign was not backed by the state organization or Queens Democratic Party, will once again square off against Maltese for his seat in a race that promises to match the 2006 contest in its contentiousness. According to the latest filings, Baldeo has raised $62,820 since January 2007.

But both Maltese and Baldeo will confront a new competitor for the seat since Addabbo is widely expected to throw his hat into the race as he faces term limits that will force him out of office in 2009. Addabbo, who was re-elected to the Council in 2005 and has hinted at a state Senate run, has raised $99,745 since January 2006, the filings showed.

Maltese's 15th Senate District covers Ridgewood, Richmond Hill, Howard Beach, Woodhaven, Maspeth, Forest Hills, Woodside, Glendale and Middle Village. Padavan will also likely face a Democratic challenger this year after party insiders named Gennaro, who will be term limited out of office in 2009, as a probable rival. Padavan has raised $85,220 since January 2007, the latest filings show, while Gennaro has raised $286,017 during that same period of time.

Monserrate, who was defeated by Sabini in the 2006 primary by only 247 votes, is also expected to run against the senator for a second time. Monserrate has raised $95,429 since January 2007, while Sabini has raised $139,280 during that period.

State Sens. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone), George Onorato (D-Astoria), Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) and Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) are also up for re-election.

Stavisky has raised $54,358 since January 2007, according to the Campaign Finance Board, while Onorato has raised $65,150, Huntley has raised $3,430 and Smith has raised $864,341 during that same period of time.

Maltese's narrow 2006 win came as a surprise because the senator had been expected to easily defeat Baldeo in the race. In February 2007, Maltese stepped down from his 10-year tenure as the chairman of the Queens County Republican Party and was replaced by former Vice Chairman Phil Ragusa. Maltese had said that he left the position to focus on his 2008 reelection campaign.

Baldeo's previous challenge to Maltese made for one of the closest of the 2006 races in the borough. Both candidates accused each other of smear tactics during the race and said they were investigating alleged voter intimidation at the polls.

Addabbo said he had previously considered running for Maltese's seat in 1996 and again at the recommendation of Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2006.