Ahead of NY Primary, Campaign Ads, Fliers Get Nasty

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Shirley Huntley

    With New York's state primary election just two days away, the campaign advertisements in some races have taken a nasty turn, spewing racial and homophobic language and sometimes cloaked in secrecy.

    In a New York City Senate primary pitting incumbent Democrat Shirley Huntley against city councilman James Sanders Jr., a flier using racially charged language accuses the state attorney general of a "political lynching" for indicting Huntley on felony corruption charges.

    Huntley is black and her Queens Senate district is largely black. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is white.

    "We as black folks should immediately be able to identify this method of political lynching," wrote Rochdale Village Vice President Joe Evans. "The community knows this is a political hanging."

    Evans did not immediately return a call Tuesday seeking comment.

    A Huntley spokesman said the campaign had nothing to do with the flier but won't disavow the personal views of a constituent who "like everybody else benefits from the senator's activism in Albany."

    Rochdale Village has received tens of thousands of dollars in "member items" sponsored by Huntley.

    "It's not for us to disavow or not to disavow," Huntley spokesman Michael Roberts said. "If a campaign decided to disavow everything that a private citizen did, we'd spend our entire campaign disavowing. It may be objectionable and it may be poor taste, but the Huntley campaign will not and cannot get involved in what a private citizen does."

    In western New York, a mysterious email was sent to about 300 people containing the image of what appears to be a mailer using stark homophobic language and images, a dig at incumbent Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti, whose vote in June 2011 helped New York pass same-sex marriage. The image, credited to The Committee to Save The Erie County Republican Party, was not sent via traditional mail anywhere. There's no evidence that the committee exists.

    Grisanti's opponent, lawyer Kevin Stocker, opposes same-sex marriage and said Grisanti betrayed voters in the district with his vote. He called the flier "disgusting" and accused his opponent of engaging in the same malicious tactics.

    "I disagree with all this nonsense," Stocker said. "A lot of negative is being addressed at me.

    "It's usually hidden by nameless people," he said. "It's disturbing and it's embarrassing."

    Doug Curella, a spokesman for Grisanti, would not address the email, saying only that the senator is focused on serving his district.

    In the Bronx/Manhattan district where Sen. Adriano Espaillat is fending off a challenge from Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, Espaillat produced a flier that accused his opponent of betraying Latinos by supporting U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel instead of Espaillat when those two faced off in a congressional primary in June. Espaillat and Linares are both of Dominican descent.

    The mailer, which lists Espaillat's campaign office as the return address but otherwise makes no indication of who produced it, reflects a sentiment that arose among some in the Dominican community during the Rangel-Espaillat primary, said Angelo Falcon, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy.

    "It's troubling within the Dominican community there's a feeling that everyone has to be in lock-step," he said.

    Espaillat spokesman Ibrahim Khan said the mailer is "reflective of the community's sentiments."

    One questionable mailer was chalked up to a typo.

    Ben Akselrod, running for Assembly in Sheepshead Bay, sent a mailer in August that said his opponent, incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz, "has allowed crime to go up over 50% in our negrohood so far this year." He called it a typo and wouldn't say if he meant to use the word "neighborhood." He apologized to anyone who was offended.

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