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Melinda Katz scored the endorsement of 1199 SEIU today, adding to her bevy of labor support in the race for Queens borough president.
Ms. Katz’s campaign touted the union’s endorsement–they represent more than 200,000 healthcare workers in the city, many black and Latino–as further evidence that crucial minority voters will back her and not her rival, Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.
king of queens
In a surprise move, State Senator Tony Avella announced this afternoon he will drop out of the Queens borough president’s race, setting up a two-way slugfest between former Councilwoman Melinda Katz and Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.
“After much thought and consideration, I have decided to withdraw from the Queens Borough President race,” Mr. Avella said in a statement. “This was certainly not an easy decision and I am eternally grateful for the overwhelming amount of support I received from people throughout Queens.”
king of queens
The candidates for Queens borough president faced off in their first major televised debate earlier tonight on NY1, discussing the future of Willets Point, stop-and-frisk and the lasting controversy over term limits.
But the most heated moments came as the participants were invited to ask questions of one another near the end of the debate.
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State Senator Tony Avella is accusing Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., a rival in the race for Queens borough president, of repeatedly “bullying” and “threatening” him in a push to get him to drop his bid.
“Personally, I think he’s a bully and a coward and afraid of having me on the ballot,” Mr. Avella told Politicker today, claiming Mr. Vallone has tried several times over the course of the election to get him to leave the race. “Let the chips fall where they may.”
Councilman Leroy Comrie today announced an end to his bid for Queens borough president, citing “personal matters” as his reason for leaving the race.
“After careful consideration, my family and I believe, due to personal matters, this is the best course of action,” Mr. Comrie said in a statement. “I remain steadfast in my faith and belief in government and it is a true honor to continue to serve the people of Southeast Queens in my capacity as Councilman.”
The Queens Democratic Party is famously unified, as their endorsement tends to come along with most of the county’s elected officials. For former Councilwoman Melinda Katz’s borough president campaign, which was backed by the Democratic organization last month, this has proven to be the case yet again–with a slew of new endorsements announced today.
Current Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez declared their support for the Katz campaign, along with former borough president candidate and State Senator José Peralta, State Senator James Sanders, Assemblywoman Vivian Cook and Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubrey.
State Senator José Peralta will end his campaign for Queens borough president and endorse former Councilwoman Melinda Katz, a source close to the Peralta campaign told Politicker Friday.
“Senator Peralta made an important contribution to the race for borough president as a tireless advocate for immigrant communities and local economic development and job growth,” said Rep. Joe Crowley, the chair of the Queens Democratic Party, in a statement. “Fortunately, he will continue fighting the good fight in the state Senate and wherever else his insight and determination are needed. I look forward to continuing to work with him on legislation and projects to help make our communities stronger.”
Queens Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. is a self-proclaimed conservative Democrat, a sharp-tongued proponent of stop-and-frisk and a perpetual thorn in the side of the borough’s Democratic establishment. John Liu is perhaps the most left-wing candidate in the mayoral race, in favor of abolishing the controversial anti-crime tactic and was once a darling of the Queens Democratic Party.
Yet Mr. Liu, the city comptroller running for mayor, and Mr. Vallone, who is running for borough president, may form a seemingly unlikely alliance that could further both of their ambitions.
The two Democrats have been in discussion about a plan to endorse each other, help carry petitions for each other and aid in pulling votes from certain constituencies, according to several Queens Democratic insiders familiar with their plans.
Earlier this evening, outspoken Councilman Peter Vallone officially launched his campaign for campaign for Queens Borough President. And, standing before an incredibly packed Greek restaurant in Astoria, both Mr. Vallone and his supporters made sure everyone was fully aware of the self-described conservative Democrat’s independent streak.
“He was able to stand up to the Speaker when she was trying to bully him,” said Norman Seabrook, the President of the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association who officially endorsed Mr. Vallone today. “Can you imagine what he would do as borough president when given the opportunity to step forward, not only for the people in this room, but this borough? He is truly a man indicative of being able to become one of the greatest of all time.”
State Senator Jose Peralta, regarded as one of the front-runners in the hotly contested race for Queens Borough President, has the subtle backing of New York Mets and Major League Soccer executives, according to his latest disclosure statements.
Peralta’s district includes Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and Willets Point, where the real estate company headed by Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz won a high-profile bid–along with Related Companies–to turn the auto repair shop haven into a shopping and housing complex. The long-delayed Willets Point project is not without controversy, though Mr. Peralta and the Queens Democratic establishment are in support of the development.