The Republican candidate to replace Nettie Mayersohn, who retired in April from the 27th District state Assembly seat she held for 28 years, contends that the Queens Democratic Party manipulated the timing of the special election to replace her.
Marco DeSena alleges that the county Democratic Party’s leaders — under the guidance of its chairman, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) — orchestrated a situation whereby Mayersohn would win re-election in 2010 based on her name recognition, then step down in order to make way for her chief of staff, Michael Simanowitz, to take her place.
DeSena says he believes the party’s leaders, counting on more Democrats to vote in a city special election than Republicans, waited until a few months after Mayersohn won, then had her step down quietly, keeping the limelight off the race and — they hope — allowing for Simanowitz to take her place relatively easily.
“That’s the incredibly shady way they tried to get the Democrats elected. Assemblywoman Mayersohn retiring four months into her tenure this year is, I think, unfair to the voters. I truly believe it was orchestrated this way,” DeSena said.
But the Simanowitz camp denies those allegations.
“Mr. DeSena is delusional,” Ross Wallenstein, campaign manager for Simanowitz, said in response to the charges leveled by DeSena. The Simanowitz campaign declined to speak to individual allegations.
DeSena sees a conspiracy on behalf of the Democrats he believes undermines the democratic process. He said the vast majority of voters he speaks with have no idea there is even a special election going on in their area, and DeSena says that could have been remedied by allowing for a longer campaign.
“Instead of lengthening the election so voters are informed and we have a longer period of time to run a proper campaign, they shortened it even more so the election is on Primary Day because there are way more Democratic primaries in New York City than there are Republican ones. Democrats are more used to voting in primaries,” he said. “Before anyone notices, the whole thing will be done.”
Queens Democratic Party Executive Secretary Michael Reich said the party had no part in helping Mayersohn decide when to step down.
“All I can tell you is it was entirely Nettie Mayersohn’s decision to retire when she wanted to. She was entitled to do that, and no one should take away all those years of service to the Queens community,” he said. “I don’t even know why he’s wasting his time running. He has no qualifications.”
Robert Hornak, DeSena’s chief of staff, said he believes there are some advantages for his candidate to a short campaign, and that his campaign believes he has the ability to win the seat for the Republicans.
“This is going to be a ridiculously low turnout election. A high estimate would be 10,000 [votes cast]. We think if we could get about 4,000 people out, we’d have a good chance of winning,” Hornak said. “We really see this because it’s a low turnout race as being less media-driven. We’ve got to give them a reason to come out and vote.”