In southern Queens, an upstart Republican challenges a conservative Democrat for Senate

Eric Ulrich. (nyc council via flickr)
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City Councilman Eric Ulrich, a Republican, has announced that he's running against State Senator Joe Addabbo Jr., in Queens.

It'll be a test of two political forces in a crucial swing district: a relatively independent Republican up-and-comer, and a Democrat with a loyal following among the district's conservative-leaning voters.

Addabbo was a City Councilman before he was elected to the State Senate in 2008. That year, he defeated 15-term incumbent Serph Maltese, a Republican whose political clout had eroded over the years.

Ulrich succeeded Addabbo in the City Council, winning a crowded special election after Addabbo's top aide (the presumed front-runner) was knocked off the ballot by another candidate. Those supporters flocked to Ulrich, who ran without the support of the Queens County Republican organization.

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Ulrich doesn't have to give up his Council seat in order to challenge Addabbo.

Addabbo angered some Democrats who helped elect him in 2008 when, a year later, he voted against same-sex marriage. The bill went down into an embarrassing defeat on the Senate floor. But, in 2011, Addabbo switched his vote, saying more of his constituents favored passing it.

It'll be interesting to how far Ulrich can go without help from the Queens organization, if in fact that turns out to be the case here. Winning a Council seat against compromised competition is one thing. Defeating an organization- and union-backed Democratic incumbent is another.

Democrats have a nearly 3-1 voter-registration advantage over Republicans in the district: There are 80,600 Democrats, 28,470 Republicans and 31,758 registered independents, according to the state Board of Elections.

UPDATE: Addabbo only had $1,685.07 on hand, as of his campaign filing in January.