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Queens State Sen. Addabbo Declares Victory in Areas Hard-Hit By Sandy

By  Tuan Nguyen Andrea Swalec and Julie  Shapiro | November 7, 2012 12:39am | Updated on November 7, 2012 5:57pm

THE ROCKAWAYS — State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo declared victory Tuesday night after fighting for reelection in a district that was battered by Hurricane Sandy.

Addabbo fended off a challenge from well-funded Republican City Councilman Eric Ulrich to keep the 15th State Senate district seat, which covers a swath of southern Queens, including the  Rockaways.

"We will pick up from what we have done," Addabbo told more than 50 supporters packed into his victory party at Woodhaven House, adding that he would immediately turn his attention back to helping those who were displaced in the storm. "Our attention and prayers tomorrow should be to the victims of Hurricane Sandy."

Addabbo won 56 percent of the vote as of 2 a.m. Wednesday, with 94 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press, which called the race for Addabbo.

Ulrich did not immediately concede the race Tuesday night "because there are literally thousands of paper ballots still out there," he told a small crowd in a largely empty Italian banquet hall in Rego Park. "We ought to allow the people who did vote have their vote count in the first place." 

Ulrich blamed the tight race on low turnout because of Hurricane Sandy but finally issued his concession Wednesday morning, when he called Addabbo to congratulate him on his win.

"Joe and I have always maintained a mutual respect for each other and we both agree that now is the time to move beyond the election and work together for the benefit of the people and the community we are both proud to represent," he said.

Sal Bacarella, a fundraiser for Ulrich, said the storm devastated turnout in the district.

"A quarter of the district for him got wiped out," Bacarella said. "They weren't here to vote." 

Addabbo and Ulrich, both Ozone Park residents, suspended their campaigns to aid in the recovery from Sandy.

Addabbo said he has turned his Howard Beach office into a 24-hour dropoff place for supplies and he hopes to continue meeting the needs of his hard-hit district.

At Addabbo's victory party, the incumbent state senator was joined by his mother, Grace Addabbo, who noted that her son was following in the footsteps of his father, who was a longtime congressman.

"He's a good boy and he deserves it," Grace Addabbo said of her son. "It's always exciting when it's your family in the election."

Suzanne Corrigan said she voted for Addabbo at P.S. 180 in Rockaway Park because she trusts him.

"Addabbo is kind of a familiar face around here," said Corrigan, 60. "I think people know him and his father, and they just trust he'll do his job.”

But other voters said they did not feel the politicians had done enough to help with the hurricane recovery.

"I'm not happy with anything Addabbo did with the storm," Beach 144th Street resident Marsha Lewis said Tuesday afternoon before she cast her vote for Ulrich. 

A Belle Harbor resident who also voted for Ulrich said he was disappointed with both candidates' efforts to address the concerns of storm survivors. 

"It's been very tough and I haven't seen either one of them here," said the resident, 46, who provided his name only as Stu. "I'm 100 percent disappointed in their response." 

The boundaries of the 15th State Senate district were redrawn in the last statewide redistricting. The district previously covered mainly inland sections of southern Queens but now includes Breezy Point and the Rockaways, which fall within Ulrich's City Council district.

Democrat Addabbo was elected in 2008 after challenging 10-term Republican incumbent Seprhin Maltese.

State Republicans heavily outspent Addabbo this year, funneling $929,000 to Ulrich's campaign through Oct. 30, compared to the $310,000 Addabbo raised, the New York Times reported