By Jill Colvin
QUEENS — While all signs point to another victory for incumbent Rep. Carolyn Maloney on the Upper East Side, her fresh-faced challenger, Republican Ryan Brumberg, fired up the crowd at their first debate Wednesday night, often drawing the loudest applause.
"Who here is worried about the state of the economy? Who here thinks the country is the going in the wrong direction?" Brumberg asked the crowd of mostly senior citizens at St. Teresa's Parish Center in Queens. About three-quarters raised their hands.
"This is why I'm running for U.S. congress," he said.
Brumberg, who describes himself as a fiscal conservative, spent most of the evening calling for lower taxes, deregulation and a repeal of the health care bill.
He argued that excess fees and regulation dissuade small businesses from creating jobs, and that government has over-reached.
"My solution for the excessive government expenditure is simple: stop," he said. "Stop the excessive regulation that is smothering our country."
Maloney, meanwhile, touted her legislative accomplishments, including securing funds for the Second Avenue subway and the 9/11 first responders' bill.
"I have a record to run on and specific accomplishments, not just a vision," she told DNAinfo following the debate.
While she acknowledged that times have been tough, she said she thinks the worst of the crisis is over.
"Is it success? No. But we are treading in the right direction," she said.
Following the two-and-a-half-hour debate, which also included candidates for state assembly and senate races, many said they have made up their minds.
"I tell you, Maloney has done a wonderful job," said supporter Eileen Walsh, 68, a retired school secretary who lives in Queens.
"I think right now, she has the lead."
Gloria Pena, 67, said that she feels the 28-year-old Brumberg is too green for the job.
"I think he's too young and inexperienced and he's trying to change the world before he gets there," she said.
But Republican retiree Richard O'Connor, 60, said he's a huge fan of Brumberg and thinks he should win.
"I like the fact that he's young and articulate and so on point," 'O'Connor said.
Maloney and Brumberg will meet twice more before the election, first on Oct. 26 at the 17th Precinct Community Council's Candidates Forum at the Sutton Place Synagogue at 7 p.m., and then at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House at 6 p.m. the next day.