Influence of Race in 2014 Senator Elections


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Most people who have been disadvantaged because of racial issues are the blacks. For example, in the 18th and 19th century, they were not allowed to vote or engage in any political activity. This is mostly contributed to the perception that the whites had regarding the black people during the slave age. During the period of slavery, black people were viewed as properties, and they did not have any legal and political rights[1]. By 1869, following the end of the civil war, there were numerous debates concerning the rights of slaves, in the American political process[2]. This led to the enactment of the Fifteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1870. This amendment made it illegal for the state or federal government to prevent anybody from voting or participating in the political process, based on their color, race, or condition of servitude[3].

By carefully analyzing this law, it is possible to denote that the intention of the congress was to promote equal political participation, amongst the various communities, residing in United States. The greatest breakthrough, in preventing racism in political process came with the enactment of the 1965 Voting Rights Act[4]. This act prohibited the state or federal government from preventing an individual from participating in the political process, based on their race, gender, or even religion. Furthermore, it created institutions that could oversee elections, in areas where there is discrimination, and it banned the language screening tests that candidates had to pass, before being allowed to participate in the political process[5].

This paper seeks to analyze whether race played a crucial factor, in determining the results of the senatorial elections of 2014. York. In this election, John Liu an Asian ran against Tony Avella, a Caucasian. The two were both democrats; however, Avella was part of the Independent Democratic Conference Party. This paper takes a stand that the elections that pitted John Liu and Tony Avella were not influenced by race.

Background Information:

John Chun Liu was born in the year 1967, in Taiwan. At the age of five years, John Chun Liu, together with his parents migrated to United States, and they lived in the city of New York. He was enrolled in the public schools governed and managed by the State Government. John Chun Liu attended his primary education at Queens School, and secondary education at Bronx High School[6]. This was in the year 1985. Mr. Liu attended Binghamton University, and he did a course in mathematical physics. He was also a student’s activists, believing in the advancement of students rights. This included the right to getting quality education, and fair fees[7]. This made him rise to the position of the vice president for the school’s student association[8]. Mr. John Chun Liu worked as a manager, for the auditing firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and he was also the President of North Flushing Civic Association[9]. This is before he was elected to the city council of New York. Liu managed to serve the New York City Council, and he represented district 20. He was elected to the council in the year 2001, to represent the region of Northeast Queens. He was subsequently re-elected, in the elections of 2003, and that of 2005. Between the periods of January 2010, to December 2013, John Chun Liu served as the comptroller of the city of New York. He also unsuccessfully viewed for the position of the mayor of New York, in the elections of 2013[10]. In 2014, Mr. Liu contested for a senatorial position against Tony Avella.

Tony Avella was born in the year 1951, and he is currently a Democratic State Senator. He comes from the 11th Senate district of New York. Tony Avella served as a member of the city council of New York, between the periods of 2002, to the periods of 2009. He managed to represents the 19th council district, which served the districts of Whitestone, Floral Park, Douglaston, Little Neck, College Point, etc. At the city council of New York, Avella served at six subcommittees, and this includes committee on building and housing, higher education, veterans, land use, fire and criminal justice, and zoning and franchises. He is an Italian-American, and he is the founder of the Italian-American Caucus. For purposes of contesting for the mayoral elections of 2009, Mr. Avella did not defend his municipal seat in 2009. His campaigning platform was on animal rights, and against over-development. However, he was not successful in these mayoral elections, and he was defeated by Bill Thompson. Avella is a graduate of the Hunter College, and a resident of the Queens region. He first contested for the state senate in 2010, defeating Frank Padavan. In 2014, Tony Avella and John Liu contested for a democratic nomination for the state senatorial seat of State Senate District II. There were no republicans seeking this seat[11].


The 2014 New York Senatorial elections in the District II were tightly contested by John Liu and Tony Avella. This election was very tight, and there were a variety of issues that affected the outcome of the elections. It is important to explain that these two people were both democrats, and hence the competition was a primary, in which the Democratic Party was seeking a candidate to sponsor for this senatorial seat. Furthermore, there wasn’t any republican challenger. This means that the bearer of the democratic flag, as the representative of the party, was sure to win the elections. It is based on this fact, that the race was tightly contested between Mr. Liu and Mr. Avella. During the primary campaigns, Mr. Avella leveled a series of accusations against Mr. Liu. Some of these accusations touched on his activities, when he served as the Comptroller of the City of New York[12]. For example, one of the criticisms, leveled against Mr. Liu, was based on the fact that he owed the city of New York, some 500,000 dollars in fines.

This is in respect to hanging campaign posters, during the time when he was running for the seat of the New York City Comptroller. These campaign posters were illegally placed. Furthermore, two of the campaign workers of Mr. John Liu were convicted in 2013, for purposes of illegally funneling campaign money, through straw donors. Investigations into the financial activities of Mr. Liu began in August of 2013, when he was accused of illegally raising campaign funds. These investigations were able to find some irregularities on the sources of funding, for Mr. Liu, and this included undisclosed funding, and straw donors. These revelations concerning the fundraising activities of Mr. Liu began in October 2011, when the media began publishing articles, which revealed several inconsistencies, regarding the campaign funds, after interviewing approximately 100 households that were identified as having donated to the campaign funds, for Mr. Liu’s candidacy. Furthermore, 24 irregularities were found, and this includes donations from people who claimed that they did not donate. However, their employers claimed that they donated this money on behalf of their employees. Most of the irregularities found in the campaign money donated to Mr. Liu were connected to the business people of Asian origin.

On a specific note, the money was connected to the Chinese business personalities. Political scandals are one of the major issues that politicians normally use to discrete the candidacy of their rivals[13]. By highlighting the political scandals facing their rivals, politicians normally hope that voters will no longer favor their rivals, and hence they would vote for them. Under this senatorial election, Mr. Avella hoped that by identifying the political scandals and Mr. Liu had, then voters would reject his candidacy[14]. However, Mr. Liu was able to capitalize on the fact that Avella was collaborating with the Republicans, for purposes of frustrating the democrats in the senate house. This means that Mr. Tony Avella was the sitting senator, and his position was assured, if he could not collaborate with the Republicans. In politics, collaboration with rival parties is an indication that an individual is not faithful, and loyal to the party[15].

Mr. John Liu capitalized on this weakness, and continuously identified it to the voters. However, in his defense, Mr. Avella denoted that through his collaboration, he managed to raise over 300,000 dollars, for funding the North Flushing Center[16]. This is an institution responsible for providing academic training to the students who are in New York. Mr. Avella was therefore saying that through his collaboration with the Republicans, he was able to improve the educational industry in New York. This is a key factor for the economic growth of the state of New York. This is because the institution would play a role in training medical practitioners, economists, bankers, etc[17]. Through this defense, Tony Avella was justifying his decision to work with the Republicans, despite being aligned to the Democrats. This means that Avella was separating himself from the support of the Queens Democrat, which was crucial for him to gain the nomination of the Democratic Party. Furthermore, Mr. John Lui was able to gain the support of Joseph Crowley. He was the chairman of the Queens Democratic supporters, who rallied behind him, for purposes of dethroning Mr. Tony Avella[18].

This was a crucial support base that Mr. Lui relied on, for purposes of getting support to dethrone Tony Avella. This group comprised of all races that is African Americans, Caucasians, and Asian Americans. Mr. Crowley played a crucial role in coming up with an anti-Avella campaign mechanism that was aimed at defeating Avella, and installing Mr. Liu as the new Democratic Senator of District II, of New York. However, it is important to explain that Mr. Liu was not motivated by any ideological issue, in campaigning against Mr. Avella. This was the candidate whom he supported during the last senatorial elections of the state of New York. However, his argument was that he was not loyal enough, to the ideals and principles of the Democratic Party. Furthermore, for purposes of winning the elections, there was a need of choosing an experienced and capable politician to contest against Avella in the democratic primaries. Based on this fact, race was not an issue in the choice of Mr. John Liu, by chairman Crowley. Furthermore, Mr. Liu was able to garner the support of the major trade unions in New York City, against Tony Avella. Trade Unions are very powerful political actors, and they play a significant role in ensuring the success or defeat of a candidate[19].

For example, DC 37, the largest Union of Employees in New York was able to endorse the candidacy of John Liu. The major reason for this endorsement was on the belief and attitudes of John Liu, regarding families, and issues that affect the public service employees. The executive director of the Union believed that John Liu was a strong supporter, and a true friend of working families, because he supported policies aimed at making workers to be comfortable. This means that in making their decision, DC 37 was not motivated by race, but by the issues and values that John Liu stood for[20]. He was an active supporter of the rights of workers, and working families, and this is the reason the labor union was able to endorse his candidacy. It is important to understand that DC 37 has huge members, with approximately 121,000 active members, and over 50,000 retirees. This is a huge number of voters that can affect the outcome of an election. Despite the support of the trade Unions and the Queens Group of Democrats, Mr. Liu was still unable to win the Democratic primaries[21].

This is because Mr. Avella was still popular amongst the people of District II. This is mainly because of the social issues that the senator was advancing. These social issues touched on education, health care, employment, etc. Furthermore, the main support base of Mr. Avella was in the 26th assembly district. This included the neighborhoods of Bayside, Little Neck, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, etc. Under this region, Mr. Avella was able to lead Mr. Liu by over 1000 votes. This is a huge number of votes, considering the fact that Mr. Avella won the elections by a margin of approximately 568 votes. Furthermore, this was a district that was represented by Ed Braunstein, a congressman who was a firm supporter of Mr. Liu. This is an indication that on the ground, Mr. Avella was very popular, and the democratic leaders were unable to influence their voters, to vote for Mr. Liu. Furthermore, by looking at the ethnicity of the people who voted for Mr. Liu and Mr. Avella, it is important to denote that race did not play a role in determining the results of the election. Majority of votes, garnered by Mr. Avella came from District 27 and 26[22].

These are districts that form a portion of the majority of the former area that Avella came from. This is an indication that Avella managed to garner votes from his loyal supporters, who were with him even when he served in the council[23]. It is important to understand that votes from these two districts comprised of 46% of the total votes, during this primaries. On the other hand, Mr. Liu won all the Districts that he represented, and the ones which neither of them represented. This also includes District 25 and 40. Through this analysis, it is important to explain that Mr. Avella main support base was district 26 and 27, of which he had represented, while serving at the council[24]. These two districts formed the largest portion of voters, and hence they contributed to the victory of Mr. Avella. Race was therefore not a factor in this election. Furthermore, it is important to understand that this was a close race, that Tony Avella won by a margin of 52.2%, against Mr. Liu who won by a margin of 47.8%[25].

Potential Contacts:

For further information, on this campaign, there is a need of contacting Mr. Liu and Mr. Avella for purposes of finding their own views regarding this election. The contact address of Mr. Liu is, [email protected]. On the other hand, the contact address of Mr. Avella is, [email protected].


In conclusion, this election was not determined by race, but by issues that affected the community. This is because by looking at the votes cast, it was possible to denote that the candidates gained majority of votes in areas that they represented, while serving at the council. Furthermore, most of the supporters of Mr. Liu were white men, who were loyal to the Democratic Party. While Mr. Avella relied on his home support base, Mr. Liu was able to garner votes from all areas, that he represented, and other areas that neither of them represented while serving at the municipal council. The only major issue that the Queens Way democratic supporters had against Mr. Avella was based on his decision to work with the Republicans. This means that he was working against the interests of thee democrats in the house of senate. The solution was therefore to oust him, and place a Democrat who would be loyal to the party. This further is proved in the concession speech of Mr. Liu, who did not complain against racism in this primary election. Instead, Mr. Liu denotes that there is a need of electing true democrats, in the senatorial seats, to advance the interests of the party. By these allegations, Mr. Liu was denoting that Mr. Avella was not a true democrat, and he would not represent the interests of the party.

Works Cited:

Bredderman, Will. “Avella Declares Victory as Liu Refuses to Concede.” New York Observer.

Web. 11 Dec. 2014.


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Chan, Melissa, and Lisa Colangelo. “John Liu Has Yet to Concede to State Sen. Tony Avella in

Queens Democratic Primary Battle.” NY Daily News. Web. 11 Dec. 2014.


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Cheney, Brendan, and Josefa Velasquez. “Mapping a Victory Pattern in the Avella District |

Capital New York.” Mapping a Victory Pattern in the Avella District | Capital New York.

Web. 11 Dec. 2014.


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Lovett, Kenneth. “Queens Pol Joins Albany Rebel Democrats.” NY Daily News. Web. 11 Dec.



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Meriwether, Kristen. “John Liu Scandal: John Liu May Lose $3 Million Over Campaign Fraud.” The

Epoch Times John Liu Campaign May Lose 3 Million Over Fraud Comments. Web. 11

Dec. 2014.


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Remy, Richard C., and Inc Quarterly. United States Government: Democracy in Action. New York:

Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 2003. Print.

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Rhoades, Liz. “John Liu Concedes to Incumbent Tony Avella in Queens State Senate Race.”

Queens Chronicle. Web. 11 Dec. 2014.



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Robinson, Alex. “Avella Declared Winner of Tight Senate Race but Liu Won’t Concede.”

TimesLedger. Web. 11 Dec. 2014.


Sutherland, Adam. Political Leaders. New York: PowerKids, 2012. Print.

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Tilly, Charles. Democracy. Cambridge [England: Cambridge UP, 2007. Print.