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Democrat Sam Berger wins special election to fill vacant eastern Queens Assembly seat

Sep. 13, 2023 By Bill Parry & Zachary Gewelb

In Tuesday’s special election to replace former Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal, his hand-picked successor, Democratic candidate Sam Berger is comfortably leading Republican and Conservative Party candidate David Hirsch, having secured 55.14% of the vote (2,447 votes) with 99% of precincts reported as of Wednesday morning, according to unofficial results from the city’s Board of Elections. Hirsch finished with 38.87% of the vote (1,979 votes).

The Assembly District 27 race to represent the neighborhoods of Flushing, Kew Gardens Hills, Whitestone, Pomonok and College Point was expected to be a close one between the two Orthodox Jews.

Berger is a 25-year-old graduate of St. John’s Law who has professional experience with the Queens Supreme Court and would become the youngest member of the Assembly. He centered his campaign on education, public safety and affordability.

Sam Berger. Courtesy of Berger’s campaign

Berger declared victory in a statement released on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“I’m deeply moved by the overwhelming support we have received from our community in the race for New York State Assembly District 27,” Berger said. “From day one, our campaign has focused on addressing the unique needs of this community. Whether it’s strengthening our children’s education, ensuring neighborhood safety or tackling the affordability crisis in our city, I’m immensely proud of the work we have done to turn our vision into reality.”

Governor Kathy Hochul congratulated Berger on his victory with a statement on X.

Congratulations to incoming-Assemblymember @SamBergerforNY on his momentous victory in tonight’s special election in Queens. I look forward to working with him as we fight to ensure our state is affordable, livable and safe for all New Yorkers,” she said.

Hirsch, 34, is an Orthodox Rabbi and Queens College graduate, running in a district that voted in favor of former gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin over Governor Kathy Hochul, who energized the Republican ballot with his anti-crime and anti-criminal justice reform stance last November. Zeldin headlined a rally for Hirsch on Sept. 10 in front of Holy Schnitzel, a kosher restaurant on Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills, featuring Ed Cox, the Chairman of the New York Republican State Committee, Queens GOP Chair Tony Nunziato and Councilman Robert Holden, a Democrat that crossed party lines to support Hirsch, as he did last fall in support of Zeldin, the former congressman from Long Island.

No Republican has represented District 27 in more than 55 years, but the GOP was hoping to flip it in what was a low voter turnout.

“Over 120 different people came down to show support and volunteer. This was as much your campaign as it was mine and we did better than anyone expected,” Hirsch said in a statement on X. “We did the best we could in just five weeks against the powerful Democrat machine that was outspent us, had dozens of unions mobilized and was working on this race even before there was a special election. I am proud of all we did together and God bless.”

Rosenthal held the seat since 2017, but he announced in June that he was stepping down to become vice president for Government Relations for the UJA-Federation of NY.

The Board of Elections must count all votes, including absentee ballots, before certifying the results of the special election. The winner of the special election will serve out the remainder of Rosenthal’s term until the end of 2024.

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