Although many state legislative races this year are not terribly competitive, a State Senate race in Queens, where Republican City Councilman Eric Ulrich is challenging incumbent Democrat Joe Addabo, is hotly contested. The two candidates squared off in a debate on NY1's Inside City Hall. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
The two candidates sparred on a range of issues, including gay marriage. Addabbo voted against legalizing it in 2009, only to vote for it two years later.
"I am a practicing Catholic," Addabbo said. "It was the hardest vote I ever had to take. We don't get to choose, the hard ones and the easy ones. We vote on them all. And again, I thought that I needed to be the voice of my people."
"I don't think you stick your finger in the wind and see which way its blowing," Ulrich said. "I think you do have to take those tough stands and you worry about the consequences at the ballot box in November."
Another contentious issue in Albany is whether to allow a natural gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." Ulrich says it will bring jobs. Addabbo says that's not the full story.
"It does not create a single job downstate here," Addabbo said. "All of these jobs would technically be upstate. The oil companies bring their own employees because of the technical nature of the drilling."
The 15th Senate District covers parts of Queens, including Ozone Park, Howard Beach and Forest Hills. It was redrawn this year to also include part of the Rockaways.
Addabbo was elected there in 2008, perhaps, in part, due to Obama being at the top of the ticket. But people who know the district say there is less enthusiasm for the president this time around. Moreover, the district was represented by a Republican, Serphin Maltese, for 20 years prior to Addabbo's election.
Another issue that came up during the debate is a sexual harassment scandal surrounding Democratic Assemblyman Vito Lopez.
"The issue of Vito Lopez resigning, and you have backed away from the question," Ulrich said. "I said he ought to resign."
"It's not that I believe he should stay in office, and certainly, it's the other house," Addabbo said. "But don't forget, and you may forget, that I was from the house that evicted one its members, Hiram Monserratte."
Ulrich was asked to explain what role political aide John Haggerty is playing in his campaign. Haggerty was convicted of stealing money from Mayor Bloomberg's re-election campaign.
"Admittedly, he has committed a crime and he will pay the price for that crime," Ulrich said. "He was my friend before he did what he did. He is my friend now. But he is not running the show."