NEW YORK—At approximately 10:58 p.m. State Sen. Tony Avella claimed victory in a bitterly fought Democratic primary against former City Comptroller John Liu.
From his election party at C.J. Sullivan’s bar in Bayside, Queens, Avella said Liu’s campaign was “one of the most disgraceful campaigns run.”
Liu had four times as much money and “a political machine behind him,” but Avella’s victory “shows you can still be independent.”
IDC colleague David Valesky congratulated Avella, “Nobody works harder than Tony.”
“You can’t disenfranchise people from their elected officials.” pic.twitter.com/TWUOy1jQxf
— Tony Avella (@TonyAvella) September 10, 2014
Avella, who represents District 11 in northeast Queens, faced off with his challenger, Liu, for months prior. The race was anticipated to be a close call, with both candidates receiving endorsements from the city’s unions and elected officials.
Homi Cooper, who sits on the board of directors at the Kissena Park Civic Association, was confident that Avella would win.
“He is of tremendous value and help to the community,” said Homi Cooper, member of the board of directors at the Kissena Park Civic Association. Avella had supported the association’s efforts to maintain local parks and ensure building contractors’ compliance with city laws.
Avella spent most of his day in front of P.S. 169 in the Bay Terrace neighborhood of Queens, greeting voters and chatting with them.
Meanwhile, Liu spent the day campaigning with local officials who endorsed him, such as Queens City Council member Paul Vallone, state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein, and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.
Avella’s fellow senators in the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), Diane Savino, David Valesky, and David Carlucci joined him at P.S. 169.
The IDC is a group of Democrats in the state Senate who agree to share majority control with Republicans. Avella spent recent weeks fielding Liu’s criticism that Avella betrayed the Democratic Party by joining the IDC.
Avella again defended his IDC participation on Tuesday, saying that it was necessary in order to “represent this district and get things done.”
While campaigning, Avella said most voters did not ask about his IDC participation, but instead brought up problems in their district, such as malfunctioning traffic lights and the need for more parking lots.
Meanwhile, Liu has been criticized for using the state senator campaign as a springboard for greater political ambitions, having just concluded a run for mayor in late 2013 where he obtained voter support in the single digits.