By PEDRO M. BERMEJO
Democratic incumbent Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. won a convincing victory over Republican challenger Erich Ulrich in a Queens race that featured much debate over legalizing same-sex marriage.
With all the ballots counted by Wednesday morning, Addabbo led Ulrich, a City Council member, 57 percent to 43 percent.
Addabbo and Ulrich ran what had been considered a close race in the 15th State Senate District, which includes Howard Beach, Ozone Park, and the Rockaways to the south and stretches north to Rego Park and Glendale.
Many of the neighborhoods that make up the district were devastated during last week’s super storm, Hurricane Sandy, leading some to speculate that the storm might have been the biggest factor affecting the outcome of the election. This Senate race is one of a dozen seen as crucial in determining which party controls the State Senate, which currently has a Republican majority.
Ulrich, whose base of support was in storm-battered Rockaway, accused the Queens Democratic Party and New York City Board of Elections of locating emergency polling places in a way that was helpful to Addabbo. A spokesperson for Ulrich said that the board had rejected all Ulrich’s suggestions for relocated polling sites.
An Addabbo spokesman told Brooklyn News Service that the senator was preoccupied with recovery efforts and would not comment on Ulrich’s accusations.
During a spirited campaign, the candidates were divided on key issues such as same-sex marriage, hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracking, and how to go about creating jobs.
Addabbo had cast a crucial Senate vote in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, saying he did so after nearly three-quarters of the 7,974 people who had contacted him about the issue urged him to support the measure.
Ulrich assailed Addabbo’s vote when the two debated on Oct. 23, saying he had flip-flopped.
“If I were in the State Senate, I would have voted no, because I also am a Catholic and I was raised to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Ulrich said.
“That is my personal belief. When we make decisions as elected officials, we do not stick our finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing and this year we vote one way and two years later we vote another way.”
Addabbo defended his change of mind. “It was no evolution at all. I’m a state senator who’s going to listen to the interest of the people — not my interest, but the interest of my people,” he said. “I voted yes but it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”