State Senator Tony Avella’s decision to join the Independent Democratic Conference is irking ex-Comptroller John Liu and Congresswoman Grace Meng.
Mr. Liu and Ms. Meng–who like Mr. Avella, are Democrats hailing from northeast Queens–criticized Mr. Avella when asked about about his recent move to join the breakaway conference Democrats governing the State Senate with the Republican Party.
“It’s disappointing to say the very least,” Ms. Meng told Politicker at an unrelated press conference. “I think the Democrats, especially the Democratic senators, have worked very hard on issues that not only affect Democrats throughout the state, but affect everyone, all working families. And so I was disappointed at the very least.”
Ms. Meng represents a Queens district that includes a large chunk of the eastern Queens district that Mr. Avella serves. A close ally of the Queens Democratic Party, which works closely with the senate Democrats, Ms. Meng’s position came as little surprise.
But Ms. Meng was not Mr. Avella’s only critic. John Liu, a one-time mayoral contender, was in Ms. Meng’s campaign headquarters to endorse her for her re-election bid and the former Flushing councilman did not hesitate to bash Mr. Avella.
“Obviously as Democrats we want to take back the majority in the New York State Senate and there’s been a very strong focus to take back as much of it this year, if not totally outright and certainly by the 2016 cycle,” said Mr. Liu, a resident of Mr. Avella’s district who has also not ruled out future bids for office. “So, this guy defecting and sorts is disappointing but I have to say, not totally shocking to people. He hasn’t certainly, not been the best team player.”
Mr. Avella, already alienated from much of the local Democratic establishment, is now facing the threat of a primary challenge. Defending his decision, Mr. Avella said he left the Democratic caucus so he could deliver more services for his district.
An IDC spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.