Thursday, November 6, 2008

Addabbo Topples Maltese; Helps Democrats Take Control in Senate

By Patricia Adams

Joe Addabbo’s victory over Serf Maltese in the 15th Senate District was a key component in propelling the Democrats to majority control of the New York State Senate. The long, hard fought race, laced with negative campaigning attributed to the Maltese campaign, ended with Addabbo unseating the 20-year Republican incumbent by 10,447 votes for a percentage victory of 58 % to Maltese’s 42%.

With the results in, Senator-elect Addabbo made his way through a crowd who chanted “Joe! Joe! Joe!” at a victory celebration held at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach At the podium, Joe Addabbo spoke to his supporters. “Just a moment ago I got a phone call from Serf Maltese—and no it wasn’t a robo call,” Addabbo quipped. “Although he said he thought the numbers would be different tonight they were not and then he offered me congratulations on my victory.”

The crowd erupted wildly before allowing Addabbo to continue. “I have always said that I could not do it alone and I could not have. First I have to thank my family. Everyone thought I had the hard job,” said Addabbo, “but my wife was home with two kids making sure everything was ok. My first thanks goes to my wife.”

“And then there’s that army of people called volunteers,” he continued, “who I could definitely never have done without. Every day 40, 50, 100 or 200 people. Today I understand we had 1,000 volunteers out there.” Addabbo also thanked labor leaders, advocacy groups and the people, he said, “who just believe in good government... To all of you, I say thanks to you. We have proved that positive campaigning beats negative campaigning."

Both candidates in the race agreed that from the onset they knew it would be a tight race. “We knew it was going to be a hard fight,” said Maltese at the joint campaign headquarters in Glendale he shared with Councilmember Anthony Como. “But make no mistake about it, this was a presidential defeat.”

Addabbo, on the other hand, while acknowledging that he and his campaign staff knew they had a big fight on their hands, attributed his victory to something quite different. In addressing hundreds of cheering supporters, Joe Addabbo said, “We all knew it was an uphill battle, but tonight we won. The bottom line is this: you believed in something like I believed in something. You believed that these people out here, outside of these walls deserved better. You believed that when we spoke about issues it was the right thing to do and not go negative. You believed that going out there hour after hour, making phone calls and knocking on doors was the right thing to do. But you people believed in something more; you believed in me and that I appreciate more than I can say.”

Maltese said the results of the election were “somewhat surprising”, noting that he received "such a good reception" over the course of the campaign. Maltese was quick to make the point that there are twice as many registered Democrats than Republicans in the district, adding, "It always was a difficult district to hold on to."

But staunch Addabbo supporters, many Republicans themselves, were quick to insist that Addabbo would have won the election despite Democratic enrollment and without the “coattail” effect.

“Senator Maltese can say whatever he likes about why he didn’t win”, said Howard Beach resident Marie Atwell, “but his loss is a combination of abandoning many parts of his district. The way he campaigned was an embarrassment to me as a Republican. Obviously I am not alone because the same people who have voted for him time and time again realized that we needed a change.”

When asked what his future plans were now, Serf Maltese said, “I'm 75 - I'm retiring, just a little earlier than I plan to," adding that he will spend more time with his grandchildren.

But change appeared to be the message Addabbo wanted to talk about. “We have a lot of work to do. Today is just the first step. It’s time for me to roll up my sleeves and get to work as we move forward toward January. I cannot do it alone. I look forward to working with everyone that wants to work with me for the betterment of my people. They deserve better and after today, will get better.”

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