2006-08-23 / Political Page

Small Primary Ballot Confronts Voters On Sept. 12

Primary elections which are just 20 days away on Tuesday, September 12, will offer voters in Queens a relatively short ballot involving public offices from state legislative positions to governor- and, as usual, dominated by the Democratic Party.

There are two Republican races on the ballot, one to select a United States Senate candidate, the other to choose between two Rego Park residents. The victor in that contest to oppose incumbent Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi for the 28th AD seat covering Forest Hills and Rego Park.

In addition, hundreds of races will involve Democratic, Republican, Independence and Conservative parties in races for a variety of party positions.

The Democratic ballot is topped by contests for governor and U.S. Senator but these present no suspense as to the outcome because Eliot Spitzer is a huge favorite to defeat Thomas Suozzi from Nassau County to take the governor's nomination, and U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is opposed by a virtual unknown, Jonathan B. Tasini of Manhattan, for the Senate nomination.

The only really contentious statewide race on the Democratic ballot is the four-way contest for the party's nomination for attorney general, presenting sufficient heat and acrimony to make up for the other two races.

The heavy favorite to take the party's nomination is Andrew Cuomo. The son of the former governor is being sharply battered by Mark Green, a distant runner-up at this point.

Also in the contest are Charles King, making another try for public office, and Sean Patrick

Maloney, who, like

Cuomo, formerly worked in the Clinton administration.

Another closely watched primary pits incumbent state Senator John Sabini against challenger City Councilmember Hiram Monserrate in the heavily Hispanic 13th Council District covering Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst and East Elmhurst.

In another state senate primary, incumbent Ada L. Smith is opposed by former Councilmember Allan W. Jennings Jr. and Shirley Huntley, a former school board member and civic activist in the 10th District covering Southeast Queens.

This race bears watching to see whether Smith and Jennings, who have attracted much attention for incidents outside chambers which subjected them to criminal charges and possible censure by their respective colleagues will cause voters to reject them as candidates in the November elections. Smith, who represents a Queens/Brooklyn district, has been in the senate since 1989.

In the Assembly, two Queens incumbents, Michele R. Titus from Richmond Hill, and Jose Peralta from Corona, are being challenged. Two other seats, both covering Flushing, are vacant because incumbents Assemblymembers Brian McLaughlin and Jimmy Meng are retiring at the end of this year.

Seeking to fill the McLaughlin vacancy in the 25th AD are Rory Lancman, the county org a n i z ation's designee, and Morshad Alam. The candidates vying to fill the Meng seat in the 22nd AD are organization designee Ellen Young, an aide to Councilmember John Liu, and Julia Harrison, the area's former representative who's coming out of retirement to attempt a comeback at the age of 83.

In the 31st AD, incumbent Michele Titus is challenged by Michael Duvall of Jamaica, and

in the 39th AD, Peralta is opposed by Carmen F. Enriquez of Elmhurst.

In the Republican primaries, former Yonkers mayor John Spencer and K.T. McFarland are in a lively primary, the winner of which faces a major uphill battle against Clinton.

And in the 28th AD, Dolores Maddis and Walter E. Schmidt, both of Rego Park, are seeking the GOP nomination to oppose Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi of Forest Hills, the son of the state Comptroller Alan Hevesi.

Interestingly, only two of the 15 Assembly incumbents, all Democrats, are challenged in the primaries, as are only two of the six state senate incumbents, both Democrats.

Senator Serphin Maltese, who was threatened with a primary by Mayor Michael Bloomberg earlier this year over the school construction funding issue, escaped such a contest.

The many races for party positions are important because there are many contests for Democratic district leaders' posts among them and the winners will vote to elect a successor to the late Thomas Manton as Democratic county chairman.

There are also many contests for Independence Party positions. Both leadership and control of the top party spot in Queens county are at stake.

SABINI: PUNISH HUMAN TRAFFICKERS: State Senator John Sabini, who's involved in a contentious primary with Councilmember Hiram Monserrate, on Monday outlined legislation which would severely punish individuals involved in human trafficking and assist their victims.

Sabini aired the proposal in front of an apartment house in Corona which housed a recently broken up family prostitution ring, thirty-one people who operated the ring's 20 brothels were arrested.

PADAVAN ENDORSED: State Senator Frank Padavan (R-C, Bellerose), facing a challenge from Democratic candidate Nora Marino in the November elections, was endorsed by labor and environmental organizations.

The Northeast Queens lawmaker was endorsed by the 2.5 million-member state AFLCIO, the Environmental Advocates of New York and the Sierra Club of New York City.

Padavan also announced he will open his campaign headquarters on September 9 at 12:30 p.m. at 42-38 Bell Blvd. in Bayside.

WEINER: PAY 9/ 11 CLAIMS OR GET FINED: Congressmember Anthony Weiner says insurance companies which have refused to pay out about $1 billion in claims relating to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and are collecting more than $200 million in interest from the delayed payments, are guilty of "greed with a capital G."

Weiner (D-Queens/Brooklyn) said the withheld funds, which will go toward rebuilding the World Trade Center, should not go into the pockets of the four insurance companies. The companies should be paying stiff fines for every day they delay payments, he said.

Meanwhile, some political pundits see danger lurking for Weiner in the new citywide campaign committee formed by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. They see the committee as a vehicle for Markowitz to run for mayor in 2009 and say it would be bad for Weiner, a likely mayoral candidate in 2009 after the fine showing he made in 2005. Markowitz doesn't appear to be a credible mayoral prospect. Markowitz could draw votes away from the congressmember in a mayoral primary.,

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