To many of Francisco Moya’s supporters, victory in the race for the Democratic nomination in the 39th Assembly District was never really a question.
It was almost a foregone conclusion that Moya, a Corona native who started his career in activism by founding the Corona Gardens Neighborhood Association at age 15, would handily beat his embattled opponent, ex-state Sen. Hiram Monserrate.
More than 100 of Moya’s supporters gathered at Tony’s Pizzeria in Corona on Tuesday night to celebrate victory with the man who may be the first Ecuadorean-American to serve in the New York State Assembly if the general election on Nov. 2 goes as planned. Moya has a Republican opponent Humberto Suarezmotta but the district has historically supported Demo-crats.
And so it was no surprise when state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) announced, at just after 11 p.m., that Moya had indeed won the nomination for the seat that Peralta himself left vacant after he too beat Monserrate for the state Senate seat in March.
With the band Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” playing behind him, Moya thanked his volunteers for all their hard work. “This win has been a long time in the making and now it is a reality,” Moya said, as his friends and supporters chanted “Si, se puede,” Spanish for “yes, we can”; the slogan familiar from President Barack Obama’s campaign.
Known for his strong support of blue-collar workers and unions, Moya had endorsements from several powerful ones, including 1199 SEIU, the Hotel Trades Council, the United Federation of Teachers, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, among many others.
“There was so much enthusiasm for Francisco. He was very supportive of labor and really had the backing of a very solid, blue collar base,” said Stephen, a captain in the FDNY who did not give his last name.
Among political supporters, Moya had the backing of state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens and Bronx), city Comptroller John Liu and several City Council members including Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) and Annabel Palma (D-Bronx).
“Tonight is a huge victory that’s long overdue. We’re all on the same page here,” said Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Height). “The voters have rejected Hiram Monserrate in huge numbers, once again. They’ve rejected his bigotry, racism and domestic violence.”
In February, Monserrate was ejected from the state Senate after he was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo.
During the often heated campaign between Moya and Monserrate, charges were leveled that Monserrate volunteers had even harassed Moya’s campaign workers — and Moya himself — outside St. Leo’s Church in Corona.
After expressing her support for Moya, Ferreras allegedly had her tires slashed. Monserrate’s supporters also allegedly disrupted a public event at which she spoke.
But, the victory party seemed to dim any memories of difficulties during the campaign as supporters cheered in English and Spanish and danced to the song “Eye of the Tiger,” from the movie “Rocky III.”
In between doing interviews with NY1 and a Spanish TV station, Moya mingled with supporters, alternately shaking hands and hugging well-wishers.
“Francisco is a very good kid, I’ve known him since he was a baby,” said Tony, owner of Tony’s Pizzeria. “I hope he does a good job in Albany.”
“This victory has been years in the making and I’ve seen him grow along the way,” said Edgar Moya, Francisco’s brother. “I think he’s going to do a great job in the Assembly.”
Monica Gutierrez, an independent filmmaker working on a documentary about domestic violence, was pleased that Moya was victorious. “We need someone with integrity, new ideas and someone who believes in women’s rights. I’m very happy that Francisco won,” she said.