When Daniel Squadron unseated 30-year incumbent Martin Connor in the Democratic primary for the 25th district State Senate seat, it looked like he had vanquished his opposition. But another contender now stands between Squadron and Albany.
John Chromczak, an openly gay lifelong resident of Lower Manhattan, will appear on the Republican line in this liberal-leaning district that includes parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Chromczak has the cards stacked against him, competing for a district with close to 130,000 registered Democrats and only 19,000 registered Republicans.
"I am optimistic about my chances," Chromczak said, but then added that he doubts he will win. Even at the beginning of his campaign, Chromczak said, he remembered thinking "clearly I would have absolutely no chance." But threw his hat in the ring anyway because, he said, he was "disgusted with government on so many levels." Also, Chromczak added, he thinks people are "hungry to hear someone with substance behind them."
Reasons for Running
Chromczak's interest in state government was sparked by the Deutsche Bank building fire that killed two firefighters in August 2007. He described himself as shocked that officials had failed to prevent the tragedy.
"It made me look up my state senator" he said, and the more he learned about state government, the angrier he got. This prompted him, Chromczak said, to "put my money where my mouth is" and become the only candidate to enter the Republican primary for the 25th district seat.
Part of what keeps Chromczak in the race is his dissatisfaction with Squadron, who, he fears, is not as pro-gay rights as he claims. Chromczak charges that Squadron does follow up on his stated support and notes he did not attend gay pride events like the Marriage Equality USA sponsored "Wedding March," which took place Sept. 14.
Squadron described gay rights as on of his highest priority issues. "I look forward to leading the charge," Squadron said of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples. A spokesperson for Squadron said that Squadron wanted to attend Wedding March but had a scheduling conflict.
Even more important to Chromczak than gay rights is government reform. "Reform Albany" is the first issue listed on his Website, which details his plan to institute term limits in the state legislature and reform campaign finance laws.
The Long Odds
Garnering support in the 25th district, has proved difficult for Chromczak. He has been endorsed by New York Republican clubs and by Log Cabin Republicans, but Squadron won many major endorsements during the primary, including unions Chromczak has been a member of, like Service Employees International Union local 1199.
Though endorsements are hard for a Republican in the 25th District to come by, Chromczak says that the response to his campaign has been good. "It's been very positive. People who have been lifelong Democrats are willing to listen to me," Chromczak said. "To me that's positive. It means that people are paying attention. They don't want to just go into it blindly, which makes it more motivating for me, to get out there."
Chromczak has managed to raise more than $30,000 for his bid. Connor has raised less for the general election, but spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in his primary bid.
Of the race, Chromczak's opponent Squadron said "I feel good about the general election." In contrast, Chromczak said "I'm realistic about it."