2004-09-16 / Front Page

Sabini, Crowley Win In Dem Primaries

by john toscano

In a major surprise in yesterday’s primary elections, Assemblymember Barry Grodenchik was defeated by Jimmy Meng in the race for the Democratic Party nomination in the 22nd Assembly District in Flushing.

Two other Democratic incumbents seeking nominations to run for re-election, Congressmember Joseph Crowley and state Senator John Sabini, won their contests, according to unofficial and incomplete election returns reported to officials at Queens Democratic headquarters in Forest Hills.

The only other race on the ballot was a Republican Party contest between Stephen Graves of Bayside, the Queens GOP choice, and Gonzalo Policarpio of Little Neck for their party’s nomination in the 5th Congressional District in Northeast Queens and Nassau. Results at press time indicated Graves had carried the district.

The results were announced by Michael Reich, the regular Democratic organization executive secretary, at county organization headquarters in Forest Hills. The election tallies were called in to Reich by party workers who got the balloting results from the voting machines after the polls closed at 9 p.m.

According to Reich, Meng’s victory was part of an Asian sweep, as not only Meng won, but also several other Asian candidates running for Democrat District Leader posts also took their contests.

It was also reported that Meng, owner of a Flushing lumberyard, spent $500,000 on the campaign.

Coming into yesterday’s voting, it was expected that Sabini could face possible defeat. Sabini defeated Luis Rosero of Corona in what developed into a bitter campaign.

Sabini’s district had been created under a reapportionment plan before the election two years ago which had been drawn to favor a Hispanic candidate. Sabini defeated two Hispanics in the 2002 primary and went on to win the general election and become the district representative in the state senate.

This year, the Hispanic former candidates both supported Rosero, 31, who is a congressional aide. He was also endorsed by popular City Councilmember Hiram Monserrate of Corona, the first Hispanic elected to the council from Queens.

In announcing his endorsement, Monserrate, joined by several Hispanic community leaders, also announced a “Get Out The Vote” drive for the final days of the campaign.

Sabini, a longtime Democratic district leader and former Councilmember, also had strong support. He gathered endorsements from about 50 Democratic elected officials, all local Dem district leaders in his district, major labor organizations and several community organizations.

Sabini hailed the endorsements as sending a strong message about his record in the senate and promised, “I will have few obstacles as I continue to work to improve care, education and quality of life for the people of the 13th senate district.”

Among the labor unions to back Sabini were District Council 37, the large municipal workers union, the United Federation of Teachers, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and SEIU Local 1199, the 230,000-member healthcare workers union headed by powerful leader Dennis Rivera.

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