Gianaris set sights on Senate


| pdavis@queenscourier.com |

For the first time since 1983, voters in the 12th Senate District in Queens won’t see incumbent George Onorato’s name on the Democratic ballot line. Instead, they will likely see popular Democratic Assemblymember Michael Gianaris, who announced that he would run for State Senate back in January after Onorato decided not to seek reelection.
Gianaris, who has represented District 36 in the Assembly and was seen as a possible candidate for other positions including Attorney General and the City Council, ultimately decided to run for State Senate because that is where he could have the biggest impact for his district and the state.
With difficult economic times likely to persist for the next few years, Gianaris said the State Senate will play a critical role in the state’s future, and he believes he can be an asset to the body.
“Given the experience I have in the State Legislature as an independent thinker and a reformer, I thought I could most help move the state forward by serving in the Senate,” Gianaris said.
A lifelong resident of Astoria and Harvard Law School graduate, Gianaris is widely considered – both by himself and independent watchdogs – a reformer.
During his tenure in the Assembly, Gianaris authored the first-in-the-nation “Airline Passenger Bill of Rights” as well as the “Energy Consumer Bill of Rights” legislation, which provided unprecedented consumer protections to New Yorkers. In addition, he has been a frequent critic of Con Ed and was one of the leading spokespersons against the utility when a blackout engulfed western Queens in 2006.
A number of political experts believe that Gianaris is a rising star in the Democratic Party.
“I think Mike’s a very conscientious fellow; he’s diligent and hard working,” said Queens Congressmember Joseph Crowley, who is also the head of the Queens County Democratic Party. “He’s an incredible fundraiser. He’s been able to develop that kind of following.”
When he first announced his candidacy in January, Gianaris received the endorsements of many local elected officials who believe he is the right person for the job.
“Mike Gianaris knows this difficult economy is hurting the bottom line for too many families in New York,” said Congressmember Carolyn Maloney. “In the State Senate, we can count on Mike to fight for economic opportunity, job creation and middle class tax relief for Queens.”
While the battle for who will control the State Senate after the November elections (currently the Democrats hold a slim 32-30 margin) will be one of the main focuses of that election, Crowley believes that Gianaris will bring something extra special to Senate.
“I think he knows the bigger picture,” Crowley said. “Politics has its place but so does governing, and governing right now has been taking a back seat to politics and that needs to change. I think Mike recognizes that.”