We spent the final weekend before Tuesday’s Special Election in the 19th Senate District in Jackson Heights and Corona, Queens. One morning, we woke up to find a Jose Peralta supporter had managed to slip inside of the co-op building to leave pamphlets under every door. The next day, even Robert Beltrani, the long shot, third place Republican candidate polling at 9 percent, had managed to do the same.
But Hiram Monserrate, who held the seat just a few weeks ago and is polling at a distant second (15 percent) to Peralta (60 percent), left no fliers. Walking around the neighborhood, his campaign visually seemed largely to be M.I.A.
There are signs of the front-runner Peralta everywhere — all along Roosevelt Boulevard, as well as in storefronts and car windows through out the neighborhood. But whatever number of supporters Monserrate has, they appear to be on the down-low. He is reportedly relying largely on the ‘grass-roots’ support of Hispanic clergy like Rev. Ricardo Reyes and Rev. Ruben Diaz.
We only saw one store bearing a Monserrate poster, featuring the slogan “Yes We Can…Si Se Peude!” and an Obamicized O. Organizing For America has told the Manhattan Young Democrats that the Monserrate “campaign did not seek nor do they have permission to use [the logo]. We are asking them to remove it from their materials.”
So far, the Monserrate campaign has not removed anything from their new website, which also features Obama flair. But other than listing the date of the special election, the website has little useful information. A link to latest events appears to be dead, and other than donating money, there is no way to contact the campaign on the site. (We have requested Monserrate be our ‘friend’ on Facebook, but he hasn’t accepted yet.)
The only place we saw Monserrrate with much face presence was in a free Spanish language paper Nueva York En Espanol, which you can pick up at bodegas and bakeries through out Jackson Heights.
The front cover of the paper features a huge beaming picture of Monserrate, who will, “Respond to the possibility of winning the special election in the State Senate, and to other topics.” Inside, there is a two page spread of Monserrate giving the only recent in-depth print interview that we’re aware of. Before he’s asked any questions, the piece begins, in our amateur translation, “Hiram Monserrate is a human Being. Of meat or bone. Possible to the virtues and inherent weaknesses in thinking of every person.”
Inside, he defends voting against gay marriage in Spanish. The paper asks him about the political costs of that decision, as “homosexuales” “organizaciones” are very powerful and will try to crush him. Monserrate says that he voted against marriage equality regardless of politics and out of conscience, “without fear or doubt.”
The last page of the paper is a full page ad from the Committee of Catholics and Christians of Queens, saying “We Support the Re-Election of Senator Monserrate:
– Senator Monserrate has defended the Biblical Principals of Morality
– It was opposed to the homosexual marriage (man with man, woman with woman)
– He has assured free parking meters on Sundays
– He’s always defended immigrants”
Meanwhile, “His opponent, Assemblyman Peralta, voted 3 times for homosexual marriage. Vote NO for immorality, vote YES for the defender of our Christian Principals.”