Avella, Liu Debate Before Democratic Primary

State Sen. Tony Avella

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Floral Park, Beechhurst, and Auburndale) and former City Comptroller John Liu appeared together on WBAI’s “Max & Murphy” radio program Wednesday evening.

Avella remained composed while talking about the Independent Democrat Conference, while Liu used this issue to attack his opponent.

Liu initiated his attack by blaming the Democrat member for handing over control to the Republican Party, adding the Democrats previously had control of the Senate for seven years.

“It isn’t a power-sharing agreement. The Republicans show gratuity and throw the IDC members a couple bones here and there. It gave control to the Republicans in the Senate,” said Liu.

Liu then highlighted that both himself and Avella have similar stances in political issues. They shared pro-choice, pro-tenant, and pro-immigrant stances. Yet he criticized Avella by saying the former IDC member did not do enough to advance these issues.

“He [Avella] traded these issues for more perks, for more money in the office, and for more money to throw around in the district,” said Liu.

Avella took a different approach during his appearance, choosing not to attack his opponent.

He said that, when he was first elected in 2010, he was the only Democrat to beat a Republican incumbent in the entire state that year. The Democrats lost majority of the state Senate that same year.

The incumbent said, after joining the IDC, he did not see this as a loss of control, but as an opportunity to work together.

“My perspective is as long as I didn’t change position, as long as I voted the same way, why not be in a position to work with everybody to get some things done. It allowed me to pass legislation that would not have normally been passed,” said Avella.

Avella added that over the past three years in the state Senate, he “passed the most bills out of any Democratic Senator.”

He clarified misconceptions of the court decision of the IDC finances, noting the court decision only required the former group to not have a non-IDC member in the campaign committee, which happened months prior to that decision.

“And everybody who thinks anything else can read the decision,” he said.

That ‘everybody’ included Risa Sugarman, the state’s top election enforcement officer who demanded former IDC members return excessive contributions that surmount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“She, [Sugarman], is relying on the court case, which doesn’t say that. If the state executive board states that I need to take some actions, I will definitely do it… But because one person comes up and misinterprets the decision of the court for whatever reason that doesn’t cause me to take action,” Avella said.

The primary election is set for Thursday, September 13.

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