Peralta beats Monserrate in Queens state senate race

 
State Assemb. Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) won a commanding victory Tuesday night for the state senate seat once held by Hiram Monserrate, who was expelled following a domestic violence conviction.

Peralta, who ran with the backing of the Democratic Party, had 64 percent of the vote, with 84 percent of precincts reporting, while Monserrate - trying to regain his job about a month after his colleague kicked him out - earned 29 percent. 

Republican Robert Beltrani got 7 percent. 

"Tonight we put an end to dysfunction, to divisiveness to disappointment," Peralta told supporters Tuesday night. "We finally have our community back."

Peralta, who could be sworn in as early as Wednesday, provides Democrats with a crucial 32nd vote in the 62-member senate, giving the party control over both houses of the Legislature as try to close a $9 billion budget gap by April 1.

Monserrate, who ran on the slogan "Yes We Can" has indicated he may run for office again, perhaps for Peralta's soon-to-be-vacant Assembly seat. He told supporters last night he would "not rule out any future races or political ambitions."

"In 30 days we created a new party here in Queens, New York," he said. "This is not the last time we have heard from the Yes We Can party."

The Democratic National Committee had asked Monserrate not to use the slogan, which President Barack Obama made famous in 2008.

The special election to fill the seat turned particularly nasty in recent weeks, with Peralta's campaign repeatedly invoking Monserrate's December 2008 conviction for dragging his girlfriend through his apartment building's hallway, and Monserrate accusing his rival of racism.

The two also sparred on same sex marriage, with Monserrate opposed and Peralta in favor.

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