Six-time incumbent State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) pulled ahead in last night's Democratic primary.
Stavisky, 74, faced challenger, John Messer, 41, an attorney from Oakland Gardens, in the race to represent the 16th District, which runs from Woodside and Elmhurst to Oakland Gardens and parts of Bayside, Fresh Meadows, Forest Hills and Rego Park. It encompasses 60 percent of Stavisky’s old district.
An intern with the Stavisky's campaign had said "we've had good feedback, but she's definitely not that well known here because of redistricting," earlier on Thursday at a polling site in Flushing.
Preliminary primary results report Stavisky with 58 percent with 4,940 votes and Messer with 42 percent and 3,575 votes.
During her victory party at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel in Flushing Stavisky thanked her staff, fellow elected officials and the voters.
"You're the ones to whom I report," she told the crowd. "We're a united Flushing. We represent the face of the united Flushing. Let us remember the principles of the Democratic Party. Let's go on to a big victory for everyone in November.
Stavisky will run against Republican J.D. Kim, a Republican-backed attorney, in the Nov. 6 general election.
Guests at Messer's campaign party, held at the restaurant he owns, Mamajuana Cafe in Woodside, were temporarily elated when results came in from two polling sites showing winning results. However, as the night went on faces fell.
"It doesn't look good," a Messer supporter said quietly to another guest at his table at 11 p.m.
The fight for the seat was tough. Fliers accusing Stavisky of funneling public money to benefit her son’s special interest lobbying firm, The Parkside Group, were distributed throughout the campaign.
Stavisky called the handout "scurrilous," at a debate on Aug. 29.
Throughout the debate, each candidate repeatedly challenged the other’s personal integrity.
“My opponent has been a Republican most of the time he’s been here,” Stavisky said of Messer, who moved to Queens from Michigan in 1991.
Messer, who made an unsuccessful bid for the state Senate against Stavisky two years ago, accused her of including the names of deceased individuals on her candidacy petitions.
Additional reporting by Mark Lord