I On Politics
In a move that vastly improves Democratic City Councilmember Joseph Addabbo's (D-Howard Beach) chances of unseating incumbent Republican state Senator Serphin Maltese in November's election in Queens' 15th Senate District, Jamaica attorney Albert J. Baldeo last week withdrew from the district's Democratic primary election against Addabbo.
Baldeo also declared that beside quitting the primary, he was also endorsing Addabbo, unifying the Democrats against Maltese and improving their candidate's chances of winning and helping the party gain a seat in the state senate.
Presently, Republicans hold a oneseat majority in the senate and Democrats are waging challenges in Queens and throughout the state in an attempt to become the majority party.
Queens Republican Party leader Phil Ragusa blasted Baldeo's move, citing his sharp attacks against Addabbo previously during the primary campaign. Before his abrupt change last Friday, Ragusa said, Baldeo charged that Addabbo was responsible for overcrowded classrooms, seniors losing their homes, housing problems and rising taxes.
Baldeo's u-turn regarding Addabbo, Ragusa alleged, occurred because "promises were made" and "deals were cut", which led to Baldeo's "miraculous
Truth be told, Baldeo owed nothing to Queens Democrats because they have never endorsed him for anything, including two years ago when he ran against Maltese and lost by some 900 votes.
Asked in the Times story if he had been pressured to leave the race by Addabbo, Congressmember Joseph Crowley, the Queens Democratic leader, or the Democratic organization's executive secretary, Mike Reich, Baldeo stated only that he had been "in consultation with various party leaders", but wouldn't be more specific than that.
Baldeo's withdrawal benefits Addabbo by allowing him to save all his energy and financial resources for his fight against Maltese. More importantly, perhaps, if Baldeo keeps his promise to actively campaign for Addabbo, he can bring out voters in the Jamaica end of the district.
With Barack Obama marking time until tomorrow night to be nominated as the first Democratic Party black candidate for president, there's every expectation that black voters from Jamaica and other nearby areas of the 15th Senate District will come out in force to vote for him and perhaps the rest of the Democratic line.
But we shouldn't forget that Maltese may benefit from the strong Republican vote in areas like Glendale, Ridgewood and Middle Village, where Maltese resides, that in past elections has turned out for the GOP's presidential candidate, in this election, presumably John McCain.
These areas are strong Republican bastions and surely Maltese is depending on them to carry him to victory.
DEN DEKKER SHOWS MIGHTY SUPPORT: For the past 14 or 15 years, Michael Den Dekker has volunteered to work in the election campaigns of Democratic candidates in either local or boroughwide contests. This year, he's running to succeed Assemblymember Ivan Lafayette, who has retired, as Jackson Heights' 34th Assembly District representative. Den Dekker, 47, has received endorsements and pledges of support from local Democratic leaders from areas as close as Corona and as far away as Ridgewood and Long Island City. The former city sanitation worker also has collected numerous labor union endorsements for his primary.
Den Dekker inherited a primary opponent, Marlene Tapper, who had planned to run against Lafayette. At the moment, however, Tapper is battling in the courts to remain on the ballot after having her petitions challenged.
Den Dekker's endorsements start with Congressmember Joseph Crowley, the Democratic county leader, and Borough President Helen Marshall and include Assemblymembers Lafayette and Jose Peralta and City Councilmembers Helen Sears, Hiram Monserrate and Eric Gioia.
Den Dekker, married with four children, started his political activism in the mid-nineties when he went to work for the Department of Sanitation in Woodside and worked nights for Assemblymember Marge Markey (Maspeth) as a district representative. He worked his way up to sanitation district supervisor by 2001 and after five years took an early retirement and plunged more heavily into his political career. He hopes to start a new job in Albany in January.
MALTESE HAILS BUDGET CUTS: In Albany last week, Maltese voted for the plan agreed upon by Governor David Paterson, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to reduce current-year spending by $426 million and next year's spending by $649 million, for a combined two-year savings of nearly $1.1 billion.
Maltese said the special session called by the governor had been a success "because we have worked together to achieve significant savings in this year's budget without raising taxes or negatively impacting vital services that New Yorkers rely on".
Maltese said the senate majority had been outspoken in its insistence that this year's budget will not be balanced through mid-year education cuts that take resources away from the public schools or that cause layoffs and hospital service or health care cuts.
ADDABBO UNVEILS WEB SITE TO FIGHT FARE HIKE: Alarmed at the recent fare hike imposed by the MTA, Addabbo has created a Web site, fightthehike08.com, "to register opposition to the MTA's plans for a second fare hike and let the agency know it cannot make up its shortfalls on the backs of the middle class".
Addabbo said he would conduct a series of visits at local subway stations to promote the Web site.
In announcing opposition to a fare increase so soon after the MTA had already imposed a fare hike, Addabbo declared, "The first answer to a budget deficit cannot always be to increase the cost of living for middle-class people, especially without a serious improvement in service and facilities."