Avella vs. Padavan? Maybe; Weiner Looks Ahead To 2009
As Queens Democratic Party Executive Secretary Michael Reich took in the election returns last Tuesday evening at the organization’s Forest Hills headquarters, a smile lit up his face. Once again, City Councilmember Tony Avella had fought off another strong Republican Party challenge to hold his 19th District seat by defeating Peter Boudouvas.
But much of Reich’s glee came from contemplating a few months from now. Always looking for new conquests, the party’s chief strategist saw Avella’s hard-fought victory in the Northeast Queens enclave as the ideal time to go after an arch nemesis, state Senator Frank Padavan, the Republican powerhouse from Bellerose.
Recalling the excitement of the final day of the Avella–Boudouvas campaign, as a small army of Democratic field workers sent out by Party Chairman Thomas Manton descended upon Bayside, Whitestone and College Point for a final spurt by their candidate against an equal force of Republicans, Reich commented, “Padavan was all over the place today. You should have seen him trying to keep Avella’s numbers down against his boy, meaning that Padavan didn’t want Avella to win in impressive fashion.”
Boudouvas has worked for several years for Padavan as a community representative, attending most community meetings as Padavan’s eyes and ears as the lawmaker attended to matters in Albany. So Padavan had more than usual interest in the race: he had endorsed Boudouvas strongly and so had Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Queens Republican Chairman Serphin Maltese, the borough’s other Republican state senator. Maltese and Padavan are the only GOP lawmakers from Queens in Albany.
Along with the mayor, Padavan and Maltese, the Northeast Queens Republican Club, the strongest in the borough, had been mobilized for the one real chance the party had to win on election Day.
But Avella, the Reich-led Democratic volunteers and his own local organization, were up to the task and turned back Boudouvas’ challenge.
When we informed Padavan about Reich’s comments and his encouraging Avella to challenge the senator, Padavan responded: “That’s not news.” He added: “I’m always ready.”
Avella, reached at his office in Bayside, responded about a possible challenge, “I haven’t ruled it in or out. I’m complimented that people think I can take on such an entrenched and established official.”
Avella said that following his impressive victory over Boudouvas, his well-supported foe, “Lots of people have approached me to run [against Padavan] or [for] some other citywide office in 2009.” Avella, like most of his Queens city council colleagues, will be forced out of office at the end of 2009 by term limits.”
For Reich’s scenario to work out, Padavan will have to run for re-election again next year, which he’s expected to do, and Avella must decide to challenge him. That’s a hard decision to make, since Avella just completed a tough campaign and a challenge to Padavan would be hard to achieve. He’s been the area’s representative for about 35 years and has achieved icon status, serving the area extremely well.
A LOOK AHEAD TO 2009: Making plans for a major career move four years down the road is a tough proposition, but Congressmember Anthony Weiner is reportedly considering doing just that—running for mayor again.
Colleagues of the 41-year-old Queens/Brooklyn lawmaker, who created quite a stir, running in the Democratic mayoral primary earlier this year and then withdrawing from the race, say Weiner plans to form a committee in a year or two to give a run for the mayor’s office another try in 2009.
He’ll have company, of course. City Comptroller William Thompson Jr. was generally expected to make a run for the city’s top office in 2009 when he withdrew from this year’s contest, and confidants said he will also form a committee next year to get the process started. At the moment, he’s the only black pol in the 2009 picture which is a major advantage.
Also eyeing the race is Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr., one of the top Hispanic pols in the city, who was at Fernando Ferrer’s side throughout the recent campaign. Surely there’ll be others.
Ferrer, of course, cannot entirely be ruled out, even though he’s a three-time loser but we would think he’s more in the “no” category at this point.
Weiner impressed us with his campaign this year. After being dead last in the field for much of the race, he staged an impressive runup into contention in the late stages and was easily the most exciting candidate of the bunch toward the end.
Even in bowing out of the race he made points. He had easily achieved a solid second in the Democratic primary voting and while Ferrer’s ability to avoid a runoff was in doubt, Weiner was in a position to create a lot of confusion and could have damaged Ferrer’s eventual campaign. But he wisely decided to be a team player and could benefit from this in the future.
Overall, Weiner should benefit from his campaign and learn from it and should be in the thick of things as a serious player when it gets underway. Four more years of experience in Congress pursuing issues to help the city should also give him favorable exposure.
COUNCIL SPEAKER RACE: Most political columnists narrow the race for Speaker of the City Council to three lawmakers—Melinda Katz of Forest Hills, Christine Quinn of Manhattan and Bill de Blasio of Brooklyn.
In other listings, Leroy Comrie, the black pol from St. Albans, is included in the mix with Quinn and de Blasio. Comrie’s ascendency comes from his support by Black and Hispanic members of the council Black and Hispanic Caucus, But some observers see it as a long stretch to get the 26 votes needed (a majority of the 51-member organization) from the caucus because some members, like every faction in the council, have loyalties to other contenders.
Besides the three unofficial leading candidates, there are four or five others who are seeking the post, including David Weprin of Hollis.
The vote to pick the new speaker isn’t until January 4, about two months away, so the jockeying for votes and the heavy negotiations to line up support will not end until that day.
Queens is in a fairly good position because its 14 member delegation is fairly solidly aligned under County Democratic Leader Thomas Manton. This is not true of the Brooklyn delegation, which has 16 votes, the most, nor of Manhattan or The Bronx, which also tend to split many ways.
With Manton keeping his members united, a Queens candidate has a good chance to capture the top prize. But since securing the top job would mean that the delegation would not receive as many committee chairmanships. The delegation might wind up supporting someone also for the post and then negotiating more goodies for all the other members from Queens. That’s what happened four years ago when Manton opted to make a pact with the Bronx delegation to support Gifford Miller of Manhattan.
Queens came away with 12 committee chair appointments, including Finance (Weprin), Public Safety (Vallone), Land Use (Katz), Zoning and Franchises (Avella), Environment (Gennaro) and Investigations (Gioia). It could happen the same way this time around.