Queens Chronicle by Anthony O'Reilly / Associate Editor
On a night Democrats across the state — and country — won seats not held by the party in many years, Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) not only survived but thrived on Election Day.
The incumbent on Tuesday defeated Democrat Mike Scala, winning 65.7 percent of the votes counted at press time for the right to serve a third, and final, term.
“Tonight was a tremendous win,” Ulrich told his supporters at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach, “not just for myself but for this community and for this district that came out in overwhelming numbers.”
The result is the councilman’s largest margin of victory in his eight years in office — he won re-election four years ago 53-47.
“Today was a very long day,” Joann Ariola, chairwoman of the Queens Republican Party, told the crowd. “But all of our voters came out. Why? Because Eric Ulrich has served this community well and will continue to serve this community — a job well done, great success.”
A Scala campaign spokesman said in an emailed statement, “We had a great time on the campaign trail, talking to voters every day through a primary and a general election and are honored that our ideas and platform resonated with more than seven thousand voters last night. It wasn’t the outcome we hoped for, but tomorrow’s another day, another fight.”
During the campaign trail, the Howard Beach attorney — a transportation advocate who has pushed for bringing trains back to the defunct Rockaway Beach Rail Line — criticized Ulrich for flip-flopping on several policy matters, such as supporting then opposing a state Constitutional Convention, which was overwhelmingly rejected by voters.
The incumbent alleged a member of Scala’s team circulated racist literature during the Democratic primary and blasted him for sexist and violent rap lyrics sung by the challenger years ago.
But on Tuesday, all that seemed to be water under the bridge — for Ulrich at least.
“He fought very hard, I think he put my feet to the fire and I have a lot of respect for him,” the councilman said. “I’m sure he has a very bright future, but it wasn’t going to be today.”
The GOP incumbent ran on a platform that he has, and will continue to, bring desperately needed resources to the district and keep an eye on Mayor de Blasio, who easily won another four years in office Tuesday.
“We will do an incredible job for this district,” he said. “I have very big plans for Rockaway, I have very big plans for Broad Channel and Howard Beach ... Not one community, not one constituent will go ignored.”
The Republican was helped not only by his own party, but by members of “Democrats for Ulrich,” who crossed the political aisle to endorse him.
Former Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven), George Russo and former Southeast Queens Council candidate Richard David are just some of the Democrats who gave their support to Ulrich.
“They stuck their necks out for me and they got some backlash for it,” the councilman said. “But they know this community votes for people, not parties, and they believe in supporting and voting for the right person for the job.”