2006-01-18 / Political Page

Candidate Hopefuls To Replace McLaughlin Emerge

It didn’t take long after Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin declared last week that he would not seek re-election this year for aspirants for his seat hoping to replace him to emerge, indicating there will likely be a lively Democratic Party primary race for the Flushing/Richmond Hill Assembly district later this year.

Party sources report several unsuccessful candidates in previous elections have indicated they’re ready to jump into the contest for the 25th Assembly District vacancy. These include Morshed Alam, who ran an impressive race in his maiden attempt to win public office in 1998, losing to state Senator Frank Padavan, a formidable incumbent, but grabbing 43 percent of the vote in the process.

Another previous loser to Padavan, Rory Lancman, a Flushing community activist, is reportedly set to run, and so is Dilip Nath, a member of McLaughlin’s home club, the William Jefferson Clinton Democratic Club in Flushing.

Lancman is also a Democratic leader, in the 25 AD/Part B, so this will help his efforts to become the candidate.

Another member of that club, John Dorsa, is said to be considering the race also. Dorsa could be one of the stronger candidates. He’s president of the Clinton Club and his mother, Maryanne, is the Democratic leader in the 25th AD Part A; McLaughlin is her co-leader. Dorsa’s father is a Civil Court judge.

McLaughlin, of course, is staying out of the growing contention over who will be his successor.

Other names to have surfaced as possible candidates are City Councilmember John Liu and Phyllis Shafran, McLaughlin’s top aide, but both do not live in the 25th AD.

Councilmember Tony Avella would be an obvious lock to get the nomination for the seat if he was interested in it. However, he said yesterday he has made no decision about seeking any other office at this point. As we reported previously, the party leaders in Forest Hills are eager to have him challenge Padavan (R–C, Bellerose) this November for his seat, but he’s made no decision about that either.

Avella said another possible option he might consider is seeking citywide office when his present term expires at the end of 2009 and term limits force him to leave his council seat.

Given the fact that McLaughlin’s district stretches through central Queens to Richmond Hill and Ozone Park, it’s possible that some other candidates to succeed him could emerge from the two last-named areas.

The developing South Asian community in Richmond Hill is very active in civic and political affairs and it’s very possible an office-seeker will come out of the current situation.

SUOZZI TAKES A STEP: Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, who’s expected to announce a challenge to Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in the Democratic primary for governor later this year, took the initial step toward that goal last week when he formed a committee to raise and spend money for the race.

Suozzi followed that move with several newspaper interviews indicating he would wage a very aggressive race, setting up sure campaign clashes with the equally aggressive Spitzer.

The Nassau County official also showed he is serious about his intentions as a candidate by attending Martin Luther King birthday observances in Manhattan. One event took place in a Harlem church, where Suozzi sat with black community leaders, including Al Sharpton, on the speaker’s platform.

Suozzi’s campaign committee announcement brought calls from Democratic officials, including state Comptroller Alan Hevesi, for him to stay out of the race.

Hevesi, Democratic state chairman Herman D. Farrell Jr., and Congressmember Charles Rangel told Suozzi they are firmly in Spitzer’s corner and he surely would have an uphill fight.

Suozzi’s announcement also triggered some Spitzer support in Suozzi’s home county, where some people expressed dismay that he’s seeking other public office after recently being re-elected to a new term.

A group called Nassau Leaders for Spitzer told Suozzi that he should continue in his county executive role because he’s doing a good job and forget about taking on Spitzer, whom they strongly support for governor.

Suozzi is not likely to be swayed by these or any other arguments. He appears strongly determined to challenge Spitzer and said he would even accept Republican endorsements, in addition to support from his own party, in order to win the governor’s chair. On the subject of GOP support, he pointed out that he received 100,000 votes from Republicans in last year’s re-election victory.

If he does run, Suozzi has some catching up to do in the campaign finance department. Spitzer has reportedly reached the $19 million mark in his campaign bank account while Suozzi is starting out with only $3.5 million, which was left over from his recent re-election campaign. This gives Spitzer a decided advantage and means that Suozzi has a lot of ground to make up.

FOOD STAMPS STILL ELUSIVE: Only half of the 2 million New Yorkers eligible for federal food stamps are getting them, leaving a lot of hungry families—and angry city councilmembers.

At a press conference announcing those statistics, despite council efforts to enable more people to receive the stamps, an annoyed Councilmember Eric Gioia (D–Long Island City) asked, “How long are we going to be talking about this? How long are we going to accept that there are hungry people in New York?”

Investigators from the council Committee on Oversight and Investigations, which Gioia chairs and which last year exposed shortcomings in the city food stamp program, did a followup on the program recently and discovered that only half of those eligible are receiving the benefit.

The problem is that the city Human Resources Administration, which operates the program, isn’t issuing application approvals quickly enough. Efforts by Gioia and other advocates to speed up the process have been unsuccessful.

CAMERAS IN STATE LEGISLATURE: Assemblymember Margaret Markey (D–Maspeth) announced recently that Assembly and state senate sessions can now be seen on cable television broadcasts beamed into Queens and the rest of the state.

Markey said the broadcasts can be seen on Channel 156 on Time Warner Cable. “In keeping with the reform momentum of 2005, the Cable Telecommunications Association of New York network will further open up state government to all New Yorkers,” she said. “2006 is going to have a lot of lively debates on important issues which can now be seen by all interested people.”

GOV HOPEFUL IN MASPETH: Republican gubernatorial candidate John Faso is scheduled to appear at the Maspeth Republican Club, 30th Assembly District meeting at Four Provinces Hall, 39-30 58th St., Woodside at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, January 31.

Faso is no stranger to these parts. He graduated from Archbishop Molloy H.S. in Briarwood before moving upstate and being elected to the Assembly, where he served as Minority Leader. Now he’s trying to get the GOP nomination to run for governor.

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