2008-05-28 / Political Page

Dems Dump Sabini, Switch To Monserrate In Senate Race

State Senator John Sabini was rebuffed by the Democratic Party district leaders in his senate district last Friday when they voted to support his opponent, City Councilmember Hiram Monserrate, in this year's senate election.

Despite the crucial loss of support from those leaders and the county Democratic organization, Sabini said he will still run in the Democratic Party primary to try to win the nomination and run for a fourth term in the senate.

Sabini, a former City Councilmember and Monserrate, a former Marine and New York City cop, clashed in the election for the 13th District seat two years ago. Sabini won by only 250 votes.

The district, which includes Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst, and East Elmhurst, is heavily Hispanic and was configured in the last reapportionment to favor a candidate from that ethnic group in elections.

But Daniel Hevesi won the first election after reapportionment, held the post briefly, and was succeeded by Sabini. However, county Democratic leaders feel the Hispanic population has increased even more in recent years and this, in addition to the very narrow loss by Monserrate two years ago, entitled an Hispanic to have their support in the coming election.

State Senator John Sabini, above, was rebuffed by the Democratic Party district leaders in his senate district last Friday when they voted to support his opponent, City Councilmember Hiram Monserrate, below, in this year's senate election. State Senator John Sabini, above, was rebuffed by the Democratic Party district leaders in his senate district last Friday when they voted to support his opponent, City Councilmember Hiram Monserrate, below, in this year's senate election. Following the designation meeting at Democratic Party headquarters in Forest Hills last Friday morning, where the 13th district leaders voted to give Monserrate their support, Sabini announced his intention to run in the primary.

"It is ultimately up to the district's voters to decide whom they want as their state senator," Sabini declared. "They can be assured that I will fight for the privilege to continue to serve them."

But despite Sabini's many years of involvement as both a legislator, district leader and community leader, he will now face an uphill fight without the support of the county organization and a falloff in the backing of local leaders.

Couple this with opposition from a popular Latino political leader, such as Monserrate, and Sabini's prospects are not too encouraging.

Monserrate has already shown an ability to win elections in two city council races, and with broader support in the upcoming contest with Sabini, his chances of winning are good.

Should Sabini lose the senate seat, it's quite possible he'll position, himself to run for his old city council seat, which he was forced to give up in 2001 because of term limits. His former Democratic district leader, Helen Sears, succeeded him as the area's council representative and is presently in her seventh year of service.

Sears will also be term limited out of office at the end of next year, and the seat will be up for grabs. It will be an excellent opportunity for Sabini to regain his former seat.

DEMS NOW READY TO RUMBLE: Previous to their designation of Monserrate, Queens Democrats had redesignated Queens' five congressmembers, four other state senators and the 17-member Assembly delegation, all Democrats, for reelection. All are favored to win new terms.

In addition to this army of incumbents, the organization also designated Councilmember James Gennaro (Fresh Meadows) as the candidate against Republican state Senator Frank Padavan in the Northeast Queens 11th district and Councilmember Joseph Addabbo Jr. (Ozone Park) against incumbent Republican state Senator Serphin Maltese (Middle Village) in the 15th senate district, which covers mostly Western Queens and parts of Southeast Queens.

These are the only two Republican-held legislative seats in the entire borough and the Democrats, despite their wealth of political power, are eager to win these also.

Michael Reich, the Democratic organization executive secretary, who supervises the party's election efforts, is eagerly awaiting these two battles. Generally, Addabbo appears to have a better chance of winning his contest than does Gennaro, but Gennaro is waging an aggressive campaign against Padavan in the early stages.

Meanwhile, the Republicans have fielded opposition candidates against several Democratic incumbents this year so a lively local election season should be coming up.

MALONEY TOPS: Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D- Queens/Manhattan) has the distinction of leading her 434 other congressional colleagues in introducing bills this session having dropped 70 bills into the hopper.

Many of them are related to her position as chairperson of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, a very consumer-oriented spot. Still others have to do with women's issues.

Congressmember Charles Rangel (D- Harlem) runs a close second to Maloney, having introduced 65 bills.

CHENEY COMING TO TOWN: Vice President Dick Cheney is scheduled to make a rare visit to the Big Apple tomorrow night. The occasion is the state Republican Party's annual banquet at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers in Manhattan. Sharing the spotlight with the vice president will be former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, state senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno and Republican Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco. Tickets are $1,000 per.

GOOD IDEA: Latching on to an idea which originated in Los Angeles, Councilmember Eric Gioia (D- Long Island City) has proposed guaranteeing every war veteran who returns home to this city a paid municipal internship. Gioia has asked all city agencies to hold open existing internship positions and create others in order to give ex-GIs, both men and women, a chance at a city job. As Gioia sees it, it would be one less worry for servicemembers returning from Iraq or Afghanistan when their tour of duty is over.

WEINER SLAMS SAUDIS AGAIN: Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D- Queens/Brooklyn), a constant critic of the oil-rich Saudi Arabian government, was really annoyed when President George W. Bush asked for and was refused any relief from the soaring price of fuel oil every motorist in the United States is suffering from.

"Once again the Saudis showed their contempt for the United States and our interests," he declared, adding that Congress must cut off the sale of hi- tech armaments to that Middle East country.

Last January, Weiner blocked one such $123 million deal by introducing a joint Resolution of Disapproval, backed by over 50 other congressmembers.

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