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Queens Chronicle

Sullivan victorious in GOP primary

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Posted: Monday, September 17, 2018 2:25 pm

Tom Sullivan has stated that he doesn’t want to be a career politician but he did take a step forward in his political career with last Thursday’s win in the Republican primary for New York State Senate District 15. 

Sullivan, who was backed by the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties, earned 67.9 percent of the GOP vote to defeat Slawomir Platta. 

“I knew someday when I was able to walk in everybody’s shoes, 25 years in the military, 23 years in the financial sector, 10 years as a small business owner, five years serving my community, that’s when I knew it was enough time where I can understand the people’s needs, relate to them better and that’s why I don’t believe in being that career politician,” Sullivan told supporters at Austin’s Ale House in Kew Gardens after the results of the election were announced. 

The Queens County Republican Party believes that Sullivan is the man to defeat incumbent Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) Nov. 16. “We knew from day one that he was the right candidate,” said Joann Ariola, chairwoman of the Queens County Republican Party. 

It turns out the party might have known it before Sullivan himself. “Are you sure you want me? Why do you want me? Interview me,” Sullivan said. “Ask me because I don’t want to let you down.”

 He holds the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. And there’s his work as a financial advisor, not to mention the work he does for the community, including serving on boards and helping with Hurricane Sandy recovery. Sullivan is married and has three children. This election cycle, the timing finally worked out for Sullivan to run.

“We have talked off and on for years about him running,” said Queens County Conservative Party Chairman Tom Long. “Every time he’s come back and said, ‘Not yet, family, military.’ And this time he said, ‘I am ready and I’m going to do it.’”

Tom Richardson, a longtime friend who served as Sullivan’s campaign manager, told the candidate that he would quit his job to help the campaign. As Sullivan put it, “It’s hard to live up to that, right?”

In the primary, Sullivan, of Breezy Point, was opposed by Platta, a lawyer who garnered a little over 1,500 votes. More than 3,100 people cast their votes for Sullivan. 

“They ran such a ridiculous campaign,” Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village) told those assembled at the Ale House. “They attacked Tom for attacking them when he didn’t even fire off a shot yet.”

 While running unopposed would have been easier and not presented a temporary speed bump, having to run a primary campaign may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Sullivan, who said he can make adjustments and work some wrinkles out for the general election.  

“When I originally found out we had a primary I said, ‘Oh, we don’t need this. I’m not looking forward to this, I don’t want to spend some money here.’ Well the truth of the matter is it got me out there,” Sullivan told the Chronicle. “I was able to engage the community a lot earlier, right when I should be. It’s probably going to turn out to be the best thing for this campaign.”

Sullivan added, “I wouldn’t call it a practice run but it helped me become a better candidate, know the issues better, know the people better, and without a doubt it helped.”

It was not a stressed out contingent at the restaurant on Thursday night as Sullivan was expected to win by a wide margin. Most of the people learned of Sullivan’s victory via text or online polls. 

There was the odd sight of seeing people asking for the television to be changed from sports to politics. Once they learned that the place didn’t have Spectrum, meaning that there was no NY1 available, the local news stations were turned on though the coverage was more about the hurricane than the election. Always the family man, Sullivan fielded a phone call from his mother who sent her congratulations during the celebratory speeches. She told him she saw the updates on NY1. 

One of the stories he shared was how one night, nearly 20 years ago, his wife asked him what he wanted to be in life. Sullivan said he wanted to be the governor of New York. They didn’t get much sleep that night as his wife told him she didn’t want to live in Albany. 

“It was a dream to do this,” Sullivan said.

Now the focus shifts to the general election in November.

“Tomorrow it starts all over again,” Long said. “A bigger battle, a harder battle and a battle that’s going to go right to election day.”

Addabbo is a known commodity with a lengthy track record as a city councilman and then state senator. Some people in the area will be learning about Sullivan for the first time. For his part, Sullivan says there are no secrets.

“I’m an open book and we should know about each other,” Sullivan told the Chronicle. “Absolutely.”

Ariola said that candidates in the Republican primaries turned the elections into gutter wars. 

That will likely not be the case when Sullivan and Addabbo meet.

“He’s a good person,” Sullivan said of Addabbo. “I’ve known of him for a long time because he’s a sitting senator so I look forward to him finding out about me, my character and my work ethic.”

In two months, Sullivan will attempt to unseat the man who has been in the Senate for 10 years.

“It is time for a change and to get back to good Republican values for the sake of this city, this state,” Sullivan said.

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