Sunday, November 9, 2008

Stavisky Still Rules, Koo Mulls Future Run By Joseph Orovic - Queens Tribune

Read original...

Peter Koo’s headquarters in Downtown Flushing mimicked the havoc crossing campaign offices across the nation. Vote tallies were shouted. Papers were shuffled. A quasi-headache grew into a full blown controversy. Koo’s volunteers were denied access to four polling places after 9 p.m., when votes were tallied.

At 9:20 p.m., the Republican challenger quietly entered the room. The day’s grinding 15 hours of campaigning were scrawled across his face. It was over and he knew it.

“It was an interesting experience,” Koo said. “I learned a lot.”

It was hours before he formally delivered his concession speech. But with early tallies from Forest Hills showing a big win for Democratic incumbent Toby Stavisky, defeat loomed on the horizon.

Koo sat silently in a chair, periodically answering his cell phone, chatting with Chinese press at moments.

“I knew going into this it’d be hard to beat her,” he said. “It would take a lot for me to win.”

Koo ultimately lost the race by over 26,000 votes, getting 31 percent to Stavisky’s 69 percent.

Two floors below, in a neighboring restaurant, Koo treated his volunteers to a buffet meal. Going from table to table, he shook their hands and thanked them for his service.

Meanwhile, Toby Ann Stavisky enjoyed not just the retention of the seat, but the new Democratic majority of the State Senate.

“I’m looking forward to taking the word ‘minority’ out of the equation. I’d like to thank Senator Obama for his incredibly long and strong coattails,” she said. “Yesterday was a Democratic Day.”

It marked the end of a campaign that took head-scratching turns. Koo’s overt campaign strategy used his prominence as a Flushing pharmacy mogul to draw in the Asian vote. Still, awkward approaches to community groups and funky sound bites from debates haunted Koo within local press.

While having a strong showing within the area, it wasn’t nearly enough to topple Stavisky, the five-term incumbent.

Peter Koo the politician didn’t die on Election Night.

“I now know how to run a campaign,” he said. “I’ve learned how much control I need to have. Next time, I’ll win.”

Refusing to specify when “next time” is, Koo just smiled.