By ALEXANDRA SEMENOVA
Robert Ardini, the Republican candidate running against longtime incumbent Rep. Carolyn Maloney, said he and Pope Francis have something in common.
Both have only one lung.
Like the pontiff, Ardini lost half the organ in childhood; Ardini’s was removed at the age of 13 due to cancer.
“If the pope can function without a lung, I can do anything,” said Ardini, who suggested this circumstance partly inspired him to run against his heavily favored opponent Maloney, a Democrat who has served in Congress since 1993.
Maloney won an easy victory on Tuesday night, taking 83 percent of the vote to Ardini’s 17 percent.
Maloney’s press secretary Grace Harmon did not answer the phone for comment. On her campaign website, Maloney described herself as “a national leader with extensive accomplishments on financial services, national security, the economy and women’s issues.”
Ardini was born in Queens and graduated from La Guardia High School of Music and the Arts. He is a Juilliard-trained classical pianist and said he is a “student-descendant” of Ludwig van Beethoven, meaning that the chain of instructors leads from the great composer to his teacher. Ardini is an expert in growing roses and served on the National Board of The American Rose Society and local rose societies.
He received his Bachelor of Arts in Marketing from the State University of New York at Albany and set aside his job as a marketing executive to focus on his campaign full-time. Ardini lives in Long Island City; the 12th Congressional District includes northwest Queens, the East Side of Manhattan, and northern Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Greenpoint and Williamsburg.
Ardini, whose campaign slogan was “A Moderate Republican Even a Democrat Can Like,” said he decided to run because he is concerned about the national debt, which he described is an “invisible problem” that should be the primary campaign issue in every congressional race and the presidential race. Ardini said his fiscal plans were inspired by John Stossel and the Simpson-Bowles Plan, among others.
Ardini also said he was concerned about gridlock in Congress and that if elected, he’d work to “build a foundation of mutual respect” between opposing parties in order to resolve this problem.
One of the issues Ardini said he wanted to address if elected was to limit the number of consecutive terms in Congress. He said he plans to introduce a term-limits bill.
Maloney has been a member of the House for 23 years. “That cannot be what our founding fathers intended,” Ardini asserted.
Maloney was born in Greensboro, N.C., and graduated from Greensboro College in 1968. She worked as a teacher and administrator for the New York City Board of Education and held positions in both the State Assembly and the State Senate before running for public office in 1982, when she beat an incumbent for a seat in the New York City Council. Maloney served as a Council member in East Harlem and parts of the South Bronx for 10 years before her election to Congress. In Congress, she was chairperson of the Joint Economic Committee, on which she served from 2009 to 2011.
Maloney defeated Pete Linder in the June primary, getting 90.1 percent of the vote, according to the New York State Board of Elections. She raised $1,504,502 during her campaign as of September, and her top contributors include the private banking firm Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., the National Association of Realtors, the Sheet Metal Workers Union and beauty company Estee Lauder, according to OpenSecrets.org.
According to the site, Ardini has $0.
“Regulation by Federal Election Commission is so stringent it is not possible for a layman to adhere to them without professional counsel,” Ardini said.
Ardini is supported by the Manhattan Republican Party and the Queens County Republican Party, according to VotersEdge.org.
“I’m in this to win it, not to get a respectable percentage and lose,” Ardini said in a pre-election interview.
Photo: Robert Ardini, left, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney are candidates for the 12th Congressional District seat.