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Ousted senator in bitter fight for old seat

A bitter fight over the state Senate seat left vacant when Hiram Monserrate was expelled from office following a domestic violence conviction will be in the hands of voters Tuesday when they head to the polls.

Assemb. Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights), the Democratic nominee, has slammed Monserrate, who is also vying for the seat, over the conviction, and the two have sparred on same sex marriage, with Peralta in favor and Monserrate against.

Vowing to “bring back dignity, respect and integrity to this area,” Peralta Sunday tried to fire up a crowd of supporters at a rally at his Jackson Heights campaign headquarters.

Monserrate was convicted of a misdemeanor for dragging his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, through the hallway of his building in December 2008. He was acquitted of the more serious charge of slashing her face with a drinking glass.

Outside Mount Horeb Baptist Church in Corona Sunday, Monserrate slammed the Peralta campaign for distributing a flier with a still photo of surveillance footage from the Giraldo incident.

“It’s hurtful, it’s outrageous,” Monserrate said. “He’s abused Karla Giraldo more than anyother entity.”

For weeks, the two have traded barbs, mailing out nasty fliers to voters and throwing out allegations of racism and lying at one another.

The stakes in Tuesday's  election are unusually high: With Democrats currently holding 31 of 62 seats, either man could provide the crucial vote to move legislation through the gridlocked capital. Monserrate, who is running as an independent under the slogan “Yes We Can,” was one of three senators whose defection from the Democratic caucus last summer led to the coup that stalled the Senate for weeks.

Monserrate, reiterated Sunday that he is a Democrat and would not seek to punish his former colleagues.

A Siena College poll released last week showed Peralta leading Monserrate 60 to 15 percent, with the Republican Robert Beltrani, earning 9 percent.

“It’s surprising that Monserrate would even put himself out there,” said voter Mark Chesnut, 45, of Jackson Heights. “We’ve all seen that (surveillance) video, what, 500 times?” 


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