Four Democratic lawyers will face off Tuesday’s in the 26th Assembly District primary, with the victor opposing Republican Vince Tabone in the Novemeber election to fill Ann Carrozza’s seat.
The long-time incumbent announced in April that she would not seek re-election. The district covers Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Bay Terrace, Whitestone and East Flushing.
The contending Democrats include a former Assembly member from the district, political newcomers and an activist.
Ed Braunstein, at 29, the youngest candidate, is the Queens Democratic Party’s pick. The Bayside resident until recently worked in Manhattan for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, where he specialized in constituent services. He is also related to Albany lobbyist Brian Meara.
Despite his political connections, Braunstein has touted himself as an Albany outsider. He described the ongoing criminal investigations of several capital higher-ups “a disgrace,” and has called for ethics and budget reform.
Steve Behar, also of Bayside, points to his community service in the district, including graffiti cleanups and working on other Democratic campaigns. Behar is also running on a platform of reform. He’s pushing for more transparency in government and has lambasted Braunstein for the candidate’s connections to the Albany political machine. Behar ran unsuccessfully for Tony Avella’s District 19 City Council seat in 2009.
John Duane of Little Neck held the District 26 post for two years in the 1980s, until he was beaten by the Republican-favoring politics that came with Ronald Reagan’s presidency. He is convinced he can do the job because of his past experience. Duane said he focused on his kids after leaving the Assembly, but wants to jump back into politics. If elected, he promises consumer protection in the credit counseling industry.
Whitestone resident Elio Forcina has distanced himself from the other Democrats, calling himself an “outsider.” At one time, he worked for seven years for ex-Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio, the Richmond Hill politician who was sentenced last year to six years in prison for taking bribes. Forcina said he didn’t know about the misconduct. The candidate said a big part of his platform is discounted utilities and transportation for seniors.